"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Chill is in the Air!

We have been diligently preparing for fall and a big part of that involves the harvest and preservation of food still in the gardens. According to the notes I have taken over the years we have until sometime between the 15th and 25th of this month to harvest all tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, eggplants, and other weather sensitive crops. Hard frost often creeps into the garden around early October but sometimes we get light frosts as early as mid September. After the 15th any tomatoes left on the vine, which will be less then half of them this year, will be picked to ripen indoors. Normally we only get about 30-40 percent of them to ripen on the vine so if only half are green that is good. Honestly though, most of the green tomatoes that we ripen indoors are every bit as good as the vine ripened ones and much easier to handle.

Burstyn

So we have started picking and canning the tomatoes as they ripen and yesterday I hauled in another batch for the next few days canning adventures...if I ever finish with the tomatillos. In the past we have always frozen our tomatoes but this year we are giving basic water bath canning a go...a first for us. So far so good as nothing has exploded or erupted! If all goes well we will end up with 20 quarts and 45 pints for soup and sauce. That's not going to make much of a dent in the tomato population this year so I suppose we will have to be creative with the rest. That makes my wife happy as she will have unlimited access to dried tomatoes this year...one of our favorite winter salad toppings.

The other day someone was kind enough to explain the many benefits of owning a pressure canner to me, and I think she's right. Perhaps we will buy ourselves one for Christmas and have many more canning choices available to us next year.

A few of our canned goods sitting in the dungeon/root cellar


I grew a large variety of tomatoes this year with the hope of whittling down my favorites...unfortunately I like them all for various reasons. So next year I will probably continue with my usual "fly by the seat of my pants" method of gardening and just go by feel, and that usually means we plant everything.:)


Targinnie Red

16 comments:

Stefaneener said...

I like your plant choice idea. I keep asking myself, "Would you plant this again?" I don't always have a clear answer.

Welcome to the pressure canning club soon! It's lots of fun -- and I like flirting with danger.

Jo said...

Love your tomato photos. I've done a fair share of tomato canning the last few years, and really like Amish Paste for their fleshiness. I also like roma-type and San Marzano for ease of coring. They are easy to can whole and keep their shape fairly well in the jar, too.

Your blog is very inspiring! Thank you!

Granola Girl said...

Our pressure canner (23 quart Presto) is by far the best investment we have made in our voluntary simplicity and growing our own food. It cost 100 dollars out of my tax return and paid for itself within the first few months.

Not only can we now can soup readymade, but I don't worry as much about the exacting specifics with things like salsa, soup, and sauce due to how high the cooking temperature can be with a pressure canner. It is still important, but just not the same extent of worry.

It's me ...Mavis said...

I love my pressure canner I received last Christmas! It should be #1 on your list. This is the first year I am canning tomatoes. So far I have made salsa, tomato basil soup (awesome) and 20+ Quarts of tomato sauce. Next on the list I think I might try and make some butternut squash soup with it...it's pretty exciting. Nice tomato pictures....you can never have enough tomatoes :)

Ruralrose said...

excellent photos, a pressure canner doesn't work on a glass stove top, you do get a very early frost, we are about the same unfortunately not one of my tomatoes are ripe - i have only had one yellow plum one, i can't believe it - my fruit trees are making up for the deficit as i am making "tomato sauce" with my plums - frozen in meal size portion, peace for all

Rick said...

Now that is an impressive harvest of tomatoes! Yeah a pressure canner may have to be in the plans for us this year as well. It would be nice to have something to process low acid foods with.

Mr. H. said...

Stefaneener,

I'm willing to pick raspberries with hornets and happy to pick huckleberries with bears...but the whole "contents under extreme pressure" thing still makes me a bit nervous.:)

Mr. H. said...

Jo,

We grew Amish paste and San Marzano both for the first time this year. The Amish are huge, I thought they would be a little smaller. Both have been pretty slow to ripen though, so I have been mixing them in with the others.

Mr. H. said...

Granola Girl,

Makeing soup, better salsa and like you said not worrying as much about the exacting specifics just about says it all.

Mr. H. said...

Mavis,

Butternut squash soup sounds really good. Sometimes we have to many tomatoes at once but so far we have never had enough.:)

Mr. H. said...

Ruralrose,

Luckily we do not have a glass top stove...actually my goal is to replace our pellet stove with a wood cook stove one of these days.

Usually we have the same issue as you getting our tomatoes to ripen. This year was the opposite, our plums are suffering from the heat while the tomatoes are basking in it.

Mr. H. said...

Rick,

The tomatoes are doing great this year, of course it helps that we planted way to many.

Yeah, I think we have the canning bug and the next step is a pressure canner for sure.

Roasted Garlicious said...

I just bought a new Presto Canner... woohooo it has a gauge... am hoping my daughter will be brave enough to use it! so i brought my old one (30 yrs plus) back to my house and have been busily canning away! I love the Targinnie Red colour, are they as tasty as other varieties?

LynnS said...

I love seeing all of the variety with your tomatoes. Such nice photos too.

You will love having a pressure canner. It will open up a whole new world to you!!

Wood cook stove, eh? I said something about wanting one a few weeks ago. Our gas stove went belly-up and it was only 2 years old. He thinks I've really lost it....

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious,

A 30 year old canner...wow, I'm glad to hear they last that long. At least the older models.

That targinnie red was supposed to be a 2-3 oz egg shaped red tomato and one of ours is, the one in the picture is closer to 4-5 oz, not egg shaped, and more pinkish red in color. So we decided to call in targinnie red #2 for the time being. It has a nice sweet flavor and is one of my favorites this year.

Mr. H. said...

Lynn,

Yes, a wood cook stove. We have both been considering getting one if our pellet stove goes belly up on us.

The pellet stove is fairly old and eventually the electronics for the blowers will fail. The best part is that the pellet stove is located right there in our kitchen exactly where a wood cook stove would need to be.

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