It’s been a while since I did any substantial amount of canning, and I seem to be making up for lost time. Last count was over 50 1/2-pint jars, and I’m not done yet.
It started when I saw a flyer at the feed store, announcing that they would be having a box produce sale early this month. The timing was perfect, since I would have a little disposable income from judging at State Fair (more about that later). I came home with a 25 pound bag of onions and a box each of Gravenstein apples, peaches, and Roma tomatoes.
The onions are amazing, probably the freshest I’ve ever bought. I caramelized about a dozen of them in one batch. I love having them in the freezer. I store them in small bags, then use them in soups & stews, or add them in to all sorts of other dishes. I’ll do the rest once I catch up with all the canning.
I discovered a wonderful new (to me) blog, http://localkitchenblog.com/. She has a lot of great jam recipes and most are pretty low in sugar, which I really appreciate. Several of the creations coming out of my kitchen right now are either directly from her site, or inspired by things there.
First up was a handful of the apples. The pulp became Bourbon Apple Butter, and the drained juice became Apple Jelly with Lemon and Lavender. I still want to make applesauce, but the apples will hold for a little while, and the soft fruit was demanding attention. The tomatoes were easy, just peeled and put up in quart jars with a bit of citric acid.
On to the peaches. From the Local Kitchen site, I settled on a Peach Jam with Caramelized Onions and Basil. This is more of a savory jam, and I think it will be fantastic on pork or chicken. I’ve made one batch, but I think another is a good idea. I also made a simple Peach Butter, and on the recommendation of my friend Brenda, the pits and skins were made into Peach Pit Jelly. I’m still waiting for that to actually gel, but all the sites say to give it up to 2 weeks before adding more pectin. It’s a very subtle taste, and very pretty.
Then the feed store sent out an e-mail saying that any produce left on Sunday was half price. I was really hoping for another box of the apples but they were all gone. Instead, I came home with a box of Bartlett pears. Luckily, Tien Chu mentioned that she was going to be making a Pear-Lavender Jam and she generously shared the recipe with me. My first attempt could have been a fiasco, because I turned on the burner and sat down at the computer. I completely forgot about the pot on the stove until I smelled burning sugar. Oops! It turned into one of my best “mistakes” ever! The lavender got lost under the caramel, but it was tasty enough that yesterday I recreated it, using ginger instead. I also made 2 successful batches of the Pear-Lavender.
To top it all off, I came home from a massage on Saturday with 2 more boxes of peaches. I chopped up most of the first box this morning and let them macerate with some lime juice and a bit of sugar before cooking them long enough to soften them up enough for the food mill. Now the pulp is cooking down, and it will become Peach Jam with Lime and Balsamic Vinegar (I’m inventing this as I go). And yes, the color in this picture is accurate. These are some of the reddest peaches I’ve seen in a while, and very tasty. A peach pie is definitely a possibility…
So what about State Fair, you ask? It was a fun experience. Mom came along, since she had never been to the State Fair before. We drove over in the morning, checked in to the hotel and dropped off our luggage, then headed to the Fairgrounds. After a quick lunch, we strolled the grounds, checking out the entries and the commercial booths. We spent a lot of time looking at the orchid exhibit (we have a hard time believing that they are really easy to grow). We were headed over to spend a little time watching the horse show, but got distracted by the big cats and a wonderful reptile exhibit, and then by the birds of prey show. Then it was time for me to report for duty. For their first show, the Angora breeders did themselves proud. Several of the classes put me through my paces, and I tried to incorporate the things I’ve learned as an exhibitor (even if you’ve made up your mind everyone deserves a look, find something positive to say about every animal, and let everyone know why you put the class the way you did) . I won’t be upset if they ask me back next year to judge again. It was a nice couple of days with my mom, and a good introduction to the State Fair for her.
Last week I delivered 4 sheep to their new home, 3 of mine and an extra from another local breeder. Meridoc, Manny and Nelson are now enjoying life on the coast with their new owner. It’s always fun seeing the looks I get with a van full of sheep. I even had a Highway Patrol man following me for a while, and when he pulled around me he paused long enough to catch my eye and wave. It surprises me more how many people don’t notice the sheep staring out the windows. The trip also allowed me to have a quick overnight visit with Kid the Younger and see the new apartment, and to treat him and the roomies to dinner out.
I wish I could say that I’m totally ready for Oregon Flock & Fiber in 2 weeks, but I’ve been distracted by the fruit. Oh well, hopefully I’ll get my act together this week.