Bounty from out east

Every August we spend a weekend in Yakima picking up (and u-picking) produce to preserve for the coming year. The first year we went may have been pre-children, and I think a couple other times we managed to leave them with the grandparents, but by now it’s become a full-blown family vacation. There is the hotel with a pool, Mexican food for dinner, the quirky winery we go tasting at, and of course our favorite places to buy produce.

This year we made quick work of the tomato fields, picking 140 pounds in 20 minutes or so. Even when the tomatoes are 35 cents a pound, they end up costing quite a bit when you get 4 huge boxes full. When we got home and realized what we’d done to ourselves… the project was pretty daunting. The first half of the batch we peeled, pureed, and cooked down to a really tasty pizza / pasta sauce (the recipe in the photos is what we added to each stockpot of sauce after it had reduced by about half.

The second half of the batch we peeled, chopped, boiled, and canned as stewed tomatoes; it was a lot less work and we put those away as quarts rather than pints. All told, we ended up with about 25 pints of pizza sauce and 25 quarts of stewed tomatoes. The best part was getting that bucket of tomatoes out of our fridge.

Written by dan in: Food | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Canning Continued

In addition to tomatoes we picked blueberries as a family in Yakima.  It was the end of the season and the field wasn’t really even open, but one of the workers let us pick after warning us there was not much left.  We were impressed by his sense of “not much” since we had no problem filling two large buckets in about 30 minutes.  That doesn’t even include the dozens eaten by our kids.  The best part was that he only charged us $1 a pound.  We picked 10 lbs and have been eating them steadily, however it was clear we were going to need to do some preserving.

We approach canning for a practical standpoint.  Whatever will attract the most fruit flies is attacked first, hence the tomatoes canned on Sunday.  Blueberries are the next priority.  Yesterday I made a blueberry pie (with lard crust) and today it was syrup.  We are so overloaded with jams and jellies I am having to try different ideas for fruits.  Pancakes are a regular breakfast food around here so I figured syrup would get used up fairly quickly (like before next summer).  It’s also pretty easy.  Just crush and boil blueberries, run them through a food mill and then boil again with sugar water.

I used 8 cups of blueberries and got 5 pints worth, which seems pretty good. I used the proportions in the Ball canning book which I recommend.  We got it from the library last season and I added it to my Christmas list soon after.  Its a great book for coming up with ideas and it has all the basic info you’ll ever need as well.   Tomorrow I may make blueberry juice or I might  just freeze the rest for winter cobblers.

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