Jam Making

When I decided to take on jam-making last weekend, I really had no concept of just how many berries were left in our freezer.  I mean, we certainly ate our fair share of fresh berries last summer, and Gage has made plenty in to wine, but …

… here is the tip of the iceberg …IMG_20140308_075333068

I didn’t even get through this mess, and there is still a PILE of grapes in the freezer.  Not the mention the tomatoes, for tomato jam.

I guess my weekend of jam making is going to be more like a month of jam making.

This time around, I made the traditional strawberry jam (which turned out a little gummy, to be perfectly honest … too much pectin, I guess), but I also tried blackberry jam and raspberry jam for the first time.  The raspberry jam is good, but the blackberry jam is AWESOME.  Definitely making more of that yummy goodness!

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Blackberry Jam and Strawberry Jam

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Raspberry Jam.  You can find these recipes in my post here.  I used the mixed berry jam recipe for the blackberry and raspberry jams, and it worked great.

Still can’t wait to see how the frozen tomatoes do as tomato jam.  Yum!

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Our Prayers for a Killing Frost … Answered!

That may seem like a strange thing to pray for, but I think every market farmer – and one point or another in late summer/early fall – just wants it to be OVER.  Well, it was over for us last Friday night, when we finally got a killing frost.  I went out to the tomato plants after work on Friday and quickly picked one last flat of tomatoes.  We had already harvested all of the peppers.  I also cut the last remaining basil … anything I could salvage last minute (with two small kids in tow, and a husband away at a conference).

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During the weekend, I took that last flat of UGLY tomatoes … 10.21.13 048

Along with the final UGLY jalapenos, combined with our bell peppers and onions from the Olds’ farm, and made one tiny batch of salsa.  I think this is the least amount of salsa I have ever made.  To our family who has come to hope for salsa each Christmas, it will be slim pickings this year.  Promises for double salsa next year!

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Over the weekend, I also took about 35 pounds of tomatoes that we froze during our bumper crop this summer ….

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Combined it with TONS of that fresh basil …

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Added lots of fresh garlic that I bought from Ed Scott at the farmers market …

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And added roasted peppers to make more of that awesome pasta sauce I posted about earlier this year.

Also made and froze seven servings of pesto with the rest of the basil.  Love, love, love having pesto in the freezer during the winter.  I never get tired of it.

Only a few final canning projects left on the horizon.  Possibly up this weekend is a batch of apple butter with the remaining apples from the September harvest.  Also planning to make tomato jam, strawberry jam, and mixed berry jam again sometime in the next few months.

Happy Birthday to Me

Inevitably in the month of September, I always buy myself a birthday gift.  Is that wrong?  But, I always really NEED it, whatever “it” is.

Here is what I got myself this year:

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An awesome 20 quart, stainless steel pot for canning!  I am already in love with this pot!

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It replaces this pot, which I had been using … mom’s old enamel canning pot.  It has seen better days, as you can tell.  It has now been relegated to the out-of-doors.  I see a worm of some sort has already claimed it as home.  Gross.

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Knew I needed a new pot for all of these apples.

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One batch of applesauce – DONE!

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More applesauce and apple butter to come later this fall.

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With the expansion of our family this summer, I haven’t done much canning – just a little corn salsa, my pasta sauce, some pickled okra, and now applesauce.  Hopefully the tomatoes will hold out, and I can can all the way up to November!

Farmers Market Leftovers

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Occasionally I get asked the question, “What do you do with the produce you don’t sell at market?”  Of course a good portion of it goes to friends and family, we also donate some to the local food pantries, but I also like using our “leftovers” in such projects as these:

Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce – holy cow this is so good, you won’t even know what to do!

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I made this for the first time last summer, and it quickly became a family favorite.  Plus, I love being able to go to the pantry to enjoy homegrown tomatoes, peppers, herbs and garlic in the dead of winter.  I can these in quarts, add a pound of browned hamburger when we are ready to eat it, and then serve over pasta, or even better, spaqhetti squash.

Of course, true to form, I always tweak the recipe.  🙂  I don’t peel the tomatoes – too time consuming, and I don’t mind the texture of an occasional peel in the sauce.  Also, I simmer the tomatoes first, strain off excess liquid, and then add other ingredients.  This greatly reduces cooking time.  Enjoy!

Strawberry and Mixed-Berry Jam

I am slowly but surely getting better at jam and jelly making.  Granted, I haven’t practiced a lot, because we are just now starting to get enough fruit to process.  But I have practice quite a big on jalapeno jelly, and last summer, with tomato jam (it is delicious … trust me).

Now, I am tackling berry jams.  Most recently, Strawberry Jam and Mixed Berry Jam, using our own strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

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They are both delicious, as only homemade jam can be, but I think I prefer the mixed berry jam, as it isn’t quite as sweet.  Trying to capture the beautiful color in this picture … didn’t really work.  🙂

However, the next time I make jam, I am going to try a trick I just learned for getting that pesky foam off the top … adding 1/2 t. butter to the recipe.  Has anyone else tried this?  Does it work?