Preserving the Harvest for Winter

Each fall Norman and I can and/or freeze enough food to last the winter.  This way we can have canned goods that have no salt added or very little salt.  It is very hard to find good canned goods without salt.  This page will contain all my recipes I use to can and freeze my fruits and vegetables.  When I get them all together and typed I will print them into a booklet and run them off for anyone that would like a copy.

Last year we put up 98 jars of spaghetti sauce, 55 quarts of pear and pineapple conserve, 7 quarts of apple sauce, 17 quarts apple juice, 13 quarts gape juice, 16 quarts tomato juice, 39 quarts pickles, 9 pints grape jelly, 9 pints apple butter, 2 pints mint jelly, 2 pints crab apple jelly, 1 pint raspberry sauce, 1 pint blackberry sauce and 5 pints catsup.  In the freezer I had the corn, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, beet greens, grated  zucchini, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon.   I didn’t record last years freezer quantities.

OLD COUNTRY STRAWBERRY JAM

6 cups sliced strawberries  – 3 cups sugar

Put the sliced strawberries in a large kettle and mash –  Cook over moderate heat until fairly thick about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and gradually add the sugar, stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.

Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for about 15 or 20 minutes or until juice sheets from the spoon  220 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Skim and pour into sterilized jars, seal and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Don’t over cook as it is much more useable if it is not too jelled.  We like it on ice cream, on buttermilk biscuits for a strawberry short-cake or with peanut butter on toast, or in the morning on melons as our fruit cup.    We had a wonderful crop of  strawberries this year.  Our house is on the side of a mountain facing east.  We planted the fruit trees on the south side of the house,  on a very steep hill and needed something to hold the soil when it rained.  We put in a dozen strawberry plants that we brought here from Georgia and mulched the whole hill around the trees to give the strawberries a chance to spread.  Now four years later the whole hill is covered with strawberry plants and we got enough strawberries to can 20 pints of strawberry jam and still have all the fresh strawberries we could eat.  Fresh strawberry shortcake makes a wonderful supper.  The mother plants that we brought from Georgia have now played out and must be replace this next year but the new plants that spread down hill will produce for us for a couple more years until the new plants can take over.  They hold the hill very nicely.

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GREEN TOMATO RELISH

2 quarts (4 to 5 pounds) chopped or grated green tomatoes, –  2 medium onions, chopped or grated –  2 quarts cold water –  1/2 cup salt.  Combine these three and put in a crock or large bowl and soak for 3 hours.  Then drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

In a large kettle combine  – 1 & 1/2 cups white vinegar – – 1/2 cup boiling water –  1 & 1/2 cups sugar – 1 &  1/2 teaspoons celery seeds – 1 tablespoon mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon each of ground turmeric and cinnamon –  1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard.

Bring these to a boil and boil for 3 minutes, add the rinsed tomatoes and onions, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.  Pack into hot sterilized jars and seal. this makes 2 to 2 & 1/2 pints.  This should be processed in a water bath method for about 15 minutes.

We put up a few of these at a time as we have the time though the summer to make some or to fill a water bath we are processing.  They are easy to do and so good for cook outs or for baked beans.    At the end of the season we use all the left over tomatoes and make up four or five batches at once so we have plenty to give to the family at Christmas.

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CANNED PEACHES

Peel the peaches , if the skin does not come off easily dip them in boiling water and then into ice water and the peel will come off easily.  Cut them in half or quarters and take out the seed and any bad spots.  Put them into cold water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar to keep them from turning brown.

Make a medium syrup using 3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water for canned peaches, bring to a boil.  Use a heavy syrup for brandied peaches – 4  3/4 cups of sugar to 4 cups  water and bring to a boil. (This year, 2012,  I used a light syrup – 2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water.)

Pack the peaches into not sterile jars and fill with the hot syrup.  If you are making brandied peaches use the heavy syrup and 1 -2 tablespoons of brandy to each pint jar of peaches.  Seal the jar and process in a water bath for 15 minutes. ( This year we processed in the pressure canner – 7 lb pressure for 10 minutes.  We had very good luck with the peaches this year and got 46 pints canned.)

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GRAPE JELLY

4  1/2 to 5 pounds of grapes, at least 1/4 of these should be green as the pectin is higher in the grape just before it gets ripe and it is the pectin that makes it jell.

Wash and pick the grapes so there is no stems or leaves, put them into a kettle, mash a little to break the skins and add 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stir so they do not stick.  Put into a wet jelly bag and let drain.  If you use cheese cloth for your jelly bag do NOT squeeze the bag to get the last of the juice out, if you use muslin as I do you can squeeze the bag .

Measure the juice for each cup of juice put a slight cup of sugar.  I like just a little less sugar than the usual one cup as I like a little tang to my jelly.  If you don’t put in enough sugar it won’t jell.  Put this into a very large kettle as it will boil up about ten times its height, bring to a boil and boil rapidly until it reaches 220 degrees on the candy thermometer or until it sheets, don’t go over 220 or it makes for a hard jelly.  Put into hot sterile jars and seal.   Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.  Or seal each jar with parraffin, in which case you don’t need to process it to keep it.

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This year(2011) I was making pickles and jelly at the same time a made a mistake and added 1/4 teaspoon each of black pepper and turmic to my jelly.  When I saw what I had done I tried to skim it off with the old milk skimmer but didn’t have much luck so went ahead and finished it as jelly.  It came out really very good and I call it spiced grape jelly.   I put it into small jars so everyone could try some.  ( This year – 2012 we will not have any grapes.  The arbor broke last year so I had to cut back the grapes and I cut them back too hard.  They grew but produced very few grapes.  Next year we will have more.)

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Just before the freeze came to Baker Mountain we pulled the tomato plants in the garden.  Some were already dead but many still had green tomatoes on them so we collected all of those and got about a peck of very little ones.  The larger ones we put out to ripen but the small ones of an inch to two-inch in diameter I wanted to find something to do with.  Here is what I came up with.

1.  cut in half the smaller ones and quarter the larger ones and coat in the deep-frying batter and deep fry. – very good.

2.  cut in half the smaller ones and quarter the larger ones.  Take equal parts of the breading and grated cheese.  Roll the tomatoes in beaten egg then in the breading cheese mix and pan fry in a non-stick pan with just a little oil until golden brown.  Great!

3.  the larger green tomatoes sliced very thin, equal amount of potatoes sliced very thin, a large onion.  Put into a casserole dish in alternate layers, salt(also salt), pepper, and dried mustard greens or parsley on each layer and top with a white sauce made with either milk or broth and cheese if you want.  Bake for one and a half hours.  Very good.

4.  Slice thin and add as a topping on pizza.  Gives a wonderful tangy flavor to the pizza.

5.  tomorrow I will try green tomato fritters.  Other things to try is putting them into soups making, stews of any kind, drop in whole or pot roasts the same way.   Yesterday I tried freezing some.  I trimmed off the top stem and any spot I would not wish to eat and froze them whole in a freezer bag.  Now this winter when I need to make a broth for soup I will take a quart of those and let you know how it worked.  I know it will give a great flavor to any broth. ( I used these tomatoes in everything I cooked from baked beans to casseroles and found they gave a very nice tangy taste to the dish.  )

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CANNED  ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO

Wash any size zucchini and cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes.  Wash and skin enough tomatoes to make enough tomato sauce to cover the amount of zucchini you plan to can.  Chop the tomatoes and a couple of onions.  Add a little water, some garlic, some parsley, and any other herbs you like and stew for about half an hour.  Mine comes out different each time I make it depending on my mood but it is good every time.

Cover the zucchini with water and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer – Pack hot sterile  jars with the hot zucchini, cover with the tomato sauce leaving 1/2 inch head room, seal the jars and process with 12 pounds pressure for 25 minutes.

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FREEZING APPLE PIES

I have tried making the pies and freezing them but we do not like the crust after it has been frozen so now I just freeze the apples and when we want a pie I make a crust, take the apples from the freezer, put it in the crust and bake as for a fresh pie.  Also we have found we like a “tarte” better because it has more apple and less crust, it takes three apples instead of four and half the crust.

Take a dozen good size apples.  Peel and quarter the apples and place in water with to keep them from turning brown. Save the peeling until you are finished with the pies.  THE Crust – Take one cup of flour; quarter teaspoon baking powder; half teaspoon salt; quarter cup olive oil.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in the oil until the whole thing is well blended and looks like a course corn meal.  Add water about a quarter cup until the whole thing holds together.  Roll out the crust so that it is about twice as large as the pie plate you are using.  Put the crust in the pie plate with the extra hanging over the edge.  The filling:  Slice 12 apple quarters into the crust in the pie plate.  Top with about a quarter cup of sugar, if your apples are very tart or you like a sweeter pie add more sugar, top with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Fold the extra crust up over the apples, there should be a spot on the top that has no crust over it, this is to let the steam from the cooking apples escape.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove the tarte from the pie plate while still hot so it will not stick to the plate, put on a large dinner plate.  Serve as you would for any pie.  ***

TO FREEZE THE OTHER TARTE APPLES:  Use three disposable aluminum pie plates, slice 12 pieces of the apples you have left in the water, into each pie plate.  Top each with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg just as you did for your pie.  Put each into a gallon freezer bag and put into the freezer.   When they are well frozen, about 4 to 5 hours or the next day, remove from the freezer, open and remove the apples from the pie plate, they will all hold together so you can return them to the freezer bag and then reuse the pie plates.  Put these all into a two gallon freezer bag.  This double bagging keeps the apples from getting freezer burned.  Return to the freezer until you want to make a tarte.  When you want a tarte just make a new crust and assemble your tarte and cook as for a fresh pie.******

Apple Jelly. – Now take the peelings and cores and add enough water to almost cover the peelings, cut the peelings so they will settle into the water.  Bring to a boil and cook for about half an hour.  You will either need to add a drop of red food coloring or I put in a hand full of grapes to give your jelly a nice color.  Then strain out all the peelings and cores and keep just the juice, I usually get about a cup of juice from this, if you don’t add enough water to make a cup, if you get more that is fine.  Measure the juice and add that same amount of sugar and bring to a boil.  Boil this until it reaches 220 degrees or until it sheets from the spoon.  Pour into a hot sterile jelly jar, you should get a jar full.

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MARINARA SPAGHETTI SAUCE

Take two large onions and mince, 6 -8 good sized cloves of garlic and mince.  Brown these lightly in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Put these into a 5 gallon cooker.  You need 20 – 30 pounds of tomatoes.   Peel the tomatoes by putting them into boiling water for one minutes, then into ice water and the skins come right off.  Cut each tomato  in half and remove the seeds to a strainer.  Strain the seeds and save the juice, discard the seeds and skins.  Chop the tomato pulp and put into the large cooker.  Add 4 tablespoons chopped parsley, 4 tablespoons dried mustard leaves (if you don’t have the mustard leaves use Italian seasoning), 4 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons dried basil leaves, 2 table spoons dried oregano leaves, 1 tablespoon marjoran leaves,  teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar.  If you like you can add some tomato paste, I use the salt free kind when I use it but unless the tomatoes are very watery I never use it.   Simmer until thickened to desired consistance 1 – 2 hours.    Put into hot sterile jar and process 15 minutes at 12 pounds pressure or process in a water bath for 40 minutes.

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APPLE JELLY WITHOUT PECTIN

I never use pectin to make my jelly if I can get it naturally.  Today I made some green apple jelly.  At the farmer’s market I got a bag of green Johnna Gold apples, I used three to make a pie (tarte).  I used the peelings from those with the cores and then cut up the other 11 apples with the peelings on and the core in, I put them into a large pot with about a dozen little crab apples cut in half and 6 ripe grapes for color and put in water about 3/4 of the way up the apples and cooked them for about 40 minutes untill the apples were mushy.  Then we put them into the apple press and squeezed them through three layers of cheese cloth.  I got 9 cups of juice and put that into a 5 gallon stew pot, added 6 1/2 cups of sugar.  This I boiled until the temperature reached 220 degrees and the jelly sheeted from the spoon.  I then put it into the small, half cup hot sterilized jelly jars put on hot lids and screwed on the rings to seal the jars.  I got 15 jars from my apples.  These small jars I give to my daughter and grand daughter to use as Christmas presents for their friends and co-workers.   I need 9 more jars so will get more apples next week when we go to the farmer’s market and look for a few grapes to add for color.

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7 Responses to Preserving the Harvest for Winter

  1. Shanti says:

    I have a bazillion green tomatoes this year that aren’t going to have time to ripen. Besides relish and fried green tomatoes – any other way to eat them?

    • I toss the green tomatoes into any soup or casseroll I make. Once the heat hits them they turn red anyways and they hold together better than a fully ripe tomato. You can also wrap them in newspaper and let them ripen, they don’t get any bigger but they do ripen. You wrap them in newspaper so they don’t touch each other and rot before they rippen.

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    • Hello, I would like to keep up a correspondence with you. I would like to know more about you. We used to have a bed and breakfast in New Hampshire. We were in a skii area and the four years we ran this we didn’t have any snow so the business did not do as much as it should have. Let you can write to me any time on my blog and I will answer you. Have a great day.

  3. Hi, at first it took a while to get started but now it is like writing a diary, I just talk to my blog as I would to my sister or daughter when they come to visit. My children live all over the country and where we live in the woods in TN they worry about us so this is the best way for us to let them know what we are doing and l=to let them know we are well and happy. So this blog is really meant for our family and friends but if anyone else is interested in subsistence living I welcome any questions they have for me. Living here in the country in the woods it is not hard to keep your mind cleared, there is no outside distractions and enter my thoughts only when invited. Someone told me once to stop and smell the roses and I did – Try it sometime, it really works. Have a great day.

  4. ToneyNOdiase says:

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    • Hi, If you have any questions about any of my blogs, please feel free to ask and we can talk. My blogs all are based on our farm or my work with the family tree. What are you most interested in? I have been a teacher for over 50 years so love to talk about any topic I am interested in and I find I have more interests than I can name so lets talk!! Ouma

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