Friday, April 15, 2011

Farmday Friday!!!

I remembered!  That deserves a yell.  Yaaaaaaay!!!  Working 12 hour days is not conducive to blogging.  I'd love to try writing them in advance but am struggling to stay awake when I get home.  Maybe I'll have to write five on Sundays and just delve them out during the week.  Hm.  That's a thought.

Anyway it's Friday so it's Farmday!  Let me check my Farm folder (yes, I have a Farm folder) and see what I can dredge up.  Aha!  Preserving.  I love to preserve foods.  My title bar backdrop is from a picture of some of my many canned goods from last year.  Each year I do jams, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, beets etc.  Basically, anything I can can, I do can.  Last year, doing it in 90 degree heat was not fun but hey....I got my farmgirl skirt on, got my hair pinned up and turned the AC off with the fans running and sweated through it.  In winter, it was well worth it.  But the heat didn't beat me nearly so bad as these did.......

You want tedium?  I'll give you tedium.  How 'bout picking and stripping the berries from 7 lbs of elderberries.  Holy moly it tried even my now fairly decent patience!  But the result was wonderful.  If you've never had elderberry jam, you don't know what you're missing.  It has an amazing flavor, even after cooking (it's a cooked jam vs. a freezer jam). 
Very tasty!

Look at that!  Love this picture.  Fruits of my sweat and labor.  Peaches, beets, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini...all ready for me to eat in dead of winter.  Pressure canners are awesome.  Don't be scared of them.  Get a good book and sit down near them when they hit the pressure they need to be at.  I conquered my fear of disaster that first year I did it.  The trick is understanding the relationship between your canner and your stove.  You may start at a high temp and have to take it down lower a little bit at a time.  It just depends.  Learning something new is just about paying very close attention!!

One of the other things I love to do to preserve tomatoes is roast them on a cookie sheet until they're blackened and dried out.  I clean out the seeds from Roma's, brush them with olive oil on the inside only, sprinkle some with Italian herbs or just leave 'em be, then roast them at maybe 200 degrees for a long, long, long, long time.  Check them now and again and when they've shriveled up with some blackening going on (but not too much or they cook away to nothing) you take them out, let them cool, throw them in a baggie in the freezer and voila!  'Sun' dried tomatoes on demand.  I take them out frozen, chop them up and put them in my morning omelet, my salad, you name it.  Whatever you put them in, the word is YUM salty goodness.  Remember this when you are picking tomatoes in August and need a break from canning them.  There are other options. 

IMPRESSIVE! and only half of what I ended up with last year.  I was a cannin' machine!

If you've got the canning bug but haven't ever tried it, try jams first, they're pretty easy, especially freezer jams which you just freeze, jar and all, after mixing in the pectin and heating for a short time.  I actually prefer them since I eat enough jam, longevity isn't an issue and the flavor always seems a bit better in them.  The less you cook anything, the more you preserve the flavor and freezer jams are barely cooked at all!

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