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Putting Up the Harvest August 18, 2006

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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A few weeks ago, we went to the Flea Market to poke around. We’ve been looking for old-timey crystal doorknobs and furniture that could have once been in our 100+ year old house. We came across an old wardrobe and a pie safe. They were a bargain compared to many we’d seen and we were very excited.

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Thank goodness for pick-up trucks! We loaded both pieces in the bed of Joe’s F-150 with room to spare and headed home. We put the pie safe to immediate use in the kitchen to hold the bounty from our garden. I’ve been canning like a mad woman as things have ripened. As the summer closes, we are so pleased to see the results. (And thanks to Becky for giving us the canner and to those who donated mason jars to our endeavor!).


We’ve got pickled jalapeños and okra, tomatoes, new potatoes, corn chowder, venison stew (meat courtesy of my excellent marksman husband last winter) and green beans among other things. (And if I never smell another green bean cooking while I’m pregnant, I’ll be more than happy! Every time I took the cover off the pots to stir them, I had to hold my breath or gag- nothing wrong with the beans, just something wrong with my nose during pregnancy).

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We hope to put up more food yet, but have run out of room to store it. We are planning to put shelves in the wardrobe, so maybe that will help with the overstock. Bon appetit!

 

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Comments»

1. jipmeister - August 18, 2006

We’ve already established the fact that I am so ignorant when it comes to stuff like this, haven’t we?
Okay…so…what do you do with all that stuff now? It’s cooked and then put in jars? Is that good? I mean I’m assuming the jars of white things was the new potatoes…won’t those be kinda…mushy after being cooked and then soaked in jars ? Kinda seems like it would all be kinda mushy after that…splain it to me! I’m serious…the closest I ever got to anything “canned” in jars like this is those big nasty jars in the convenience stores that have eggs in them… OH and then once my dad did make fig preserves and put it in jars…but I got about as close to that as I did to those eggs in the convenience store…

2. chickenmama - August 18, 2006

All very good questions, and ones I haven’t known the answer to myself for all that long- I didn’t grow up knowing how to do this. Canning, like a lot of other “domestic arts” (quilting, making biscuits from scratch, etc.) is something few people seem to practice anymore.

Basic set-up is a large stainless steel pot with a lid that locks into place. There are rubber gaskets that create a seal and a pressure gauge to let you know what’s going on inside.

Fresh food is moved from garden to canner as quickly as possible after picking to preserve freshness and taste. Many vegetables are “blanched” (cooked for just a minute or two) before canning or freezing to halt the ripening process and retain color.

All food is washed and carefully examined for blemishes. Any soft spots or imperfections are removed. Then, depending on what the item is, it may be shelled from its pod, shucked, snapped, trimmed to size, seasoned, and heated. I will be truthful, this is quite time-consuming.

The jars to be used are sterilized and held in hot water along with the rings and lids. The canner is heated with several inches of water in the bottom. As jars are filled, wiped off, and lidded, they are added to the open pot.

After you have all the jars in the canner, you put the the top on and lock it in place. With the steam contained inside, pressure builds as the heat rises. Once the gauge reads 10 pounds of pressure, the internal temperature is 240 degrees. That is past the point of boiling. The amount of time they keep “cooking” depends on the acidity of the food (tomatoes, not long, but corn stays a long time).

In that pressurized, above-the-boiling-point environment, all bacteria that may have been on the food is killed. It is generally this bacteria that causes food to go bad. Heating “excites” the air molecules inside, forcing them out. As the jars cool, the vacuum created makes the lids seal and no further oxygen or bacteria can get it. Food can keep this way for long periods of time.

As for the texture of them- yes, it is somewhat changed by cooking, but is more familiar than you think. Canned fruits, veggies,and soups from the grocery store have gone through a similar process, but have not been packaged in fragile glass jars. The bigger difference, though, is that when you eat store-bought canned foods, you can’t taste LOVE and you get no personal satisfaction in eating something you grew. When bleak, dreary February comes along, we want to have colorful tomatoes and spicy pickled jalapenos to liven it up. The challenge will be to hold off eating them all before then!

Let me know if I haven’t addressed something you want to know. I’ll be happy to elaborate!

3. jim Warmke - August 18, 2006

I love your blog, wonderful farm and family stuff.

4. Becky - August 18, 2006

Oh, does this all remind me of going to Granny’s to help can things from the garden. It is a long, tiring process but you can’t buy food in the grocery store that gives you the satisfaction of knowing you grew and canned it.

It brings back wonderful memories of sitting (for hours) on her porch breaking green beans, shelling peas, pinto beans and butter beans, or cutting corn off the cob. Then you prepare the food to go into the jars and wait for the canner to do it’s thing. When that is finished and you would take the jars out and line them up on her bar to cool. Oh, the satisfaction was so fulfilling. I really miss those times. I’m sure Joey must have so many of those same memories. He will be the first to tell you to be very, very careful pulling corn off the stalk.

I love your pie safe and all of the “home-grown with love” food that you have stored in it. It’s making me hungry!


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