Saturday, August 15, 2009

First August Preserving Marathon

With stuff coming to fruition, this is when the harvest crunch comes in the summer. Plus I'm away for five days next week so I'm trying to get "get stuff done"!

We've finally gotten several days in succession of sunshine. This means I can use my solar dehydrator for things other than herbs and greens and have them actually dry. The dehydrator I built, though, is very good at maintaining warmth and the air flow if clouds come by or move in for an hour or so. And I can leave the trays in it overnight even if we get a shower.

Things I've dried this week:
  • Cremona mushrooms (done in a day and a half)
  • kale and chard (done in a day)
  • calendula flowers (done in a day)
  • green pepper (sliced thin -- done in a day and a half)
  • celery (sliced thin -- done in a day and a half)
  • rusk (done in a day)
  • zucchini "chips" (done in a day and a half)
  • yarrow (done in a day to a day and a half)
  • chamomile flowers (done in a day)
  • sweet dark cherries (three days)
  • almond meal (from making almond milk - done in a day)
My black raspberry liquor finished steeping, so I bottled it. I drained a couple of pints of last years' rhubarb sauce and made a spicy black raspberry spread (adding some cinnamon) with that pulp and the steeped black raspberries.

Yesterday I harvested everything I could before going away: rhubarb, cucumbers, green beans, snow peas. The snow peas were a small enough amount we had them in our pad thai supper, along with some of the green beans. The rest of the beans and the cucumbers went into dill pickles (with my own dill, hot red pepper, and garlic). I made rhubarb ade concentrate and then used the pulp with a couple of past jars of raspberry sauce (which had come out gluey from an overabundance of pectin and/or fruit) to make a Rhubarb Raspberry spread. I took the last jar out of the water bath at 10:15 pm and was glad to shut down the stove for the night.

Things cooled off well overnight. This is an odd day, so that means I can water in my town. With today and the next two days being hot and my pole beans starting to wilt, I thought it best to thoroughly water. I've got jug and bottle waterers all over and a couple of soaker hose lines. I started shortly after seven and was done by 11 am. I used water from my rain barrel for the kitchen garden. While the "outside the fence" garden got its soaker hose run, I decided to strain and bottle up my black raspberry vinegar. What to do with the berries? I decided to make a savory sauce with them that we can use with meat in the slow cooker. I actually cooked the sauce in my thermal cooker rather than heat up the kitchen with a long simmer. Then it was time to move to watering the main garden. I have a Y junction there, so I can start the soaker while filling jug and bottle waterers in the squash patch, for some of the tomatoes and for the peppers. I also do some wand watering on the lettuce, ground huckleberries, fall snow peas and zucchini.

I had breakfast and got all my jars from last night labeled and put away.

About 1 pm I checked on the sauce and ran the immersion blender on it. Then it was time to adjust the seasoning: more light brown sugar, some salt, and juice from a quarter lime. I gave my husband a taste and he approved. I brought it up to boiling again and put it back in the thermal cooker to "simmer" some more. I decided to blend it to a smooth sauce rather than leave it a little chunky and put it up in a quart bottle.

1 comment:

  1. I read your post at Sharon blog about dehydrating becoming one of your favorite ways to preserve. Me too! I use my greenhouse as a solar dryer. But I'm not entirely successful - are you open to giving advice?