Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Tomato Canning

I recently made a bunch of quarts of finished spaghetti sauce and I'm canning more tomato sauce today.  My family will sure be getting their lycopene this winter!

I'm still in love with my very handy Squeezo Strainer.  Mine is hand cranked.  You can buy motorized versions, but I just like the old-timey-ness of hand cranking.  

Today I'm cooking and canning a BIG pot of sauce!

And the pigs get the squeezin's (which they squeal for!)

This afternoon we're picking beans for blanching and freezing and I'm going to dehydrate some grated zucchini. 

Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing.
~ Cicero

Other than family, friends, and health, how very, very true....


Monday, August 29, 2011

Mountain Mustard

What to do with an overabundance of Hungarian Wax Peppers or Banana Peppers?

Make Mountain Mustard!

The description for what is called Hot Pepper Mustard on allrecipes.com (but known as Mountain Mustard here in Potter County), says it's "A sweet and tangy pepper mustard that is delicious on hot dogs, pretzels and lots more.  A great way to use up an abundance of hot banana-type peppers grown in the garden."  

Mountain Mustard
adapted from Allrecipes.com

40 banana peppers (5 inches long), stems removed
4 cups yellow prepared mustard
5 cups white sugar
1 cup honey
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup water

Remove the seeds from the banana peppers and place the peppers in a blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.  Pour into a large pot and stir in the mustard, sugar, honey, apple cider vinegar and salt.  Bring to a boil, so that it's boiling so hard it cannot be stirred down. 

 I found that you'll want to use an extra large pot because it foams up a lot and mine boiled over a bit.  The smell of this cooking really clears your sinuses!  

Stir together the flour and water until smooth.  Pour into the boiling mixture.  

This is where I adapted the recipe because friends who made this told me that if you follow the recipe on this you'll end up with chunky bits of flour in your mustard.  I put the flour and water in the food processor and mixed it (it formed a paste).  Then I added about four or five ladles of the hot mustard mixture to the flour paste -  mixing after each addition of hot mustard.  I then added the hot, thinned-out flour and mustard mixture from the food processor to the to the pot of hot mustard sauce and stirred hard.  

Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.  Pour into sterile pint jars and seal with new lids and rings.  Process in a boiling water bath for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your altitude (I usually go for the longer time and err on the side of safety).

This mustard tasted yummy on spread on the tortillas of last night's sausage fajitas.  It's a little bit sweet, but tangy too!  I like to experiment, and I think that next time I make it I'll replace some of the hot peppers with jalapenos or some other really hot pepper for a spicy version. 

Won't this make some great Christmas gifts!?!

P.S.  Don't forget to hop over to the Homestead Revival Barn Hop!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yellow Transparent Apples

At yesterday's Farmer's Market, one of the other farmers, Mile's Farm Produce, brought a wonderful crop of Yellow Transparent apples and their own local peaches.  The fruit is smaller this year due to the late spring and the long, painful drought, but it still tastes very, very good and is all the more precious!  When I talked to the older folks that came to my stand, they told me that yellow transparent apples make a wonderful applesauce.  Of course I had to give it a try.   

I wanted to get some history on this pale beauty.  According to vintagevirginiaapples.com, "Yellow Transparent originated in Russia or one of the Baltic States and was introduced into Europe in the early 1800s, and into the United States in 1870.  The white flesh is crisp and juicy with an acid flavor. Refreshing, well-flavored, soft, pale-cream flesh, whose acidity can make it too sharp for some tastes.  It will store for only a few weeks, and ripens in late June and early July over a 3 to 4 week period (here in north-central PA, we're just seeing these apples riping in mid-August!)."  


There's nothing easier to make than a pot of applesauce - peel and core the apples, cut them up, throw them in the pot, heat and mash them.  You'll end up with chunky applesauce that tastes 1000% better than anything that comes in a jar.  

If you like to flavor your applesauce, or if you like it a bit sweeter, you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or a little brown sugar.  An added bonus to making applesauce is that the cooking apples make your house smell delicious!

What did I think of the yellow transparent applesauce?  Let me put down the spoon so I can let you know...

No, seriously, the sauce from yellow transparent apples was not as sweet as I've made from MacIntosh or Yellow Delicious apples, but the fresh apple taste came through beautifully.  If you're used to a sweeter sauce then you might want to add a dab of sugar.   

"An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away"

Derived from the old English saying . . . "Ate an apfel avore gwain to bed, make the doctor beg his bread," the original author of this most popular apple saying has been lost to history.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Color - full!

I was in love with the range of colors coming out of my garden for the Farmer's Market this week!  

Summer squashes of yellow, green and striped, red cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, dill, chives, heirloom tomatoes, and basil!  There are even purple and yellow beans!   Mmmmm.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Coming Up For Air


This is the sound of me coming up for air.  I began August by preparing for a big party and a houseful of guests, and then there was the night of the party (a birthday involving a multiple of 25!), guests afterward, then preparing to go to the beach for vacation, and finally returning from the beach.  

I came home and jumped right into harvesting my garden's bounty mode.  

My first project was to dehydrate an abundance of cherry tomatoes.

First I washed and spun them dry.  Doesn't that just make your mouth water? 

Then I sliced them in half and placed them on the shelves of the dehydrator.

My dehydrator is a Nesco American Harvest Food Dehydrator.  It has five round shelves.  I've never used any other dehydrators, so I can't tell you how it compares to other brands.  Next year, my goal is to build a solar dehydrator and bypass the expense of running the energy sucking, and noisy fan. 

After all the shelves were full, I placed the dehydrator in another room.  As I said, the fan was a bit noisy.

And then I let them dry...

and dry...

and dry...

and dry...

All told, it took about 12 hours for the tomatoes to reach a leathery-ish stage.  I ended up freezing them on a cookie sheet and then dumping them into a freezer bag.  

I'm not sure if the time spent cutting up the tomatoes and expense of running the warming fan was worth the quart bag of the final product.  I'll let you know this winter when I'm putting dried tomatoes on homemade pizza and sprinkling chopped dried tomatoes on chicken and salads!

The next dehydrator project I'd like to tackle is to shred and dry zucchini for winter loaves of zucchini bread.  I've tried freezing shredded zucchini without good results (I end up with watery, mushy mess).  It'll be interesting to see how drying works!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

National Farmer's Market Week

Did you know this is National Farmer's Market Week?  I started my farming journey when I made a vow to spend at least $10 each week at my local Farmer's Market!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Food, Inc" on PBS August 9!

I've had guests the past week and haven't been posting blogs, but I saw and wanted to let everyone know that Food, Inc. will be showing on PBS today.  The weather forecast is calling for rain - it's a great day to watch a life changing movie!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Down To Three Pigs

We took the largest of our pigs to Painter's Meat Processing in Elkland, PA to be prepared for our pig roast this next Saturday.  

First thing in the morning, we pulled our hillbilly livestock trailer into the pig pen and set about trying to catch him.  He knew something was up!  A farming friend told me a trick that involves getting a bucket over a pig's head.  You get the pig to stick his head into a bucket; then you can back them up to just about anywhere.  After a bunch of walking around trying to entice our pig, his greed finally overcame his common sense and I was able to get him to stick his head into the bucket of feed.  It was quick work to push the pig backwards into the trailer and Fitz slammed shut the door. 
We brought the pig to the processor on a Sunday, so he gets put into the holding pens until Monday.  Luckily, just before we brought him into the pens, another person had dropped off two enormous hogs in the pen directly next to him.  He was utterly fascinated.  

As usual, as we were driving off, I felt that little "pang" I get in my heart when I drop off one of the animals I've raised from babyhood.  But, although my heart gets a pang, my head realizes this is part of farming... 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Food, Inc.

Put this movie on your family's viewing list this week.  It may possibly change the way you live!