Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Green tomatoes and more

Last night they forecasted temperatures in the 30's in the Detroit Metro Region. Not wanting to take a chance, I went ahead and picked almost all the fruit left in my garden.
Some of the tomatoes were either already ripe, or had at least started to ripen,

Some were the "striped" heritage tomatoes bought by the roadside near Kent City Michigan (I got both red and yellow varieties), 

Some were totally green and had not even started to ripen yet.  Anyone have a good pickled green tomato recipe?  I have at least 1/4 bushel of these. 

I had four varieties of pepper.  The black ones are "Kaleidoscope", evidently the red and yellow plants of this variety are harder to germinate because my germination rate was low, and the only peppers I got were the black ones.   Also had a green bell, a yellow sweet banana pepper, and some peppers that were advertised as "jalapeno" at the local flea market but I suspect are "cherry bombs".

These gourds were volunteers this year.  I don't know what to do with them except to use  them for decorating.  They are pretty.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Mission Accomplished

Mission accomplished!

I picked almost a full bushel of tomatoes (some just starting to turn pink) and canned 7 quart jars of tomatoes and 6 pints of salsa.

Now to label them.  I've been printing labels using Avery shipping label forms (10 to a page) and my own logo. On the label I put my logo, my "bright meadow farms" name, the name of the contents, the ingredient list, the date processed, and a favorite quotation.  But sometimes the "sticky" on these labels doesn't hold up to glass jars and long storage.

Today I noticed that on I had enough points entered to get a free page of stickers from   Exploring their site, I found they had labels designed for food storage-- but didn't allow custom artwork. But then I also noticed they have a sister "make+print" site that allows uploads.  The problem is, that I will need to wait to receive the labels!  I assume that "free" means I will pay for shipping... and it is only one sheet. Ordering in quantity would mean hand-writing some of the information, at a minimum the date.  I typically can in batches of 7 jars, since that is what the canner will hold, not 9, the number of labels on one sheet.

 hmmm.  I also noticed their "store locator" tool and find that the local Hobby Lobby carries some of their blank labels. 

Friday, September 07, 2012

Tomatoes and Daisies

Tomorrow my dear husband will be attending the Henry Ford/Greenfield Village Old car show.  So I will be canning tomatoes. 

I checked out the availability of tomatoes in my garden tonight, and I found that I've got well over 100 ripe tomatoes ready to be picked and preserved.

I plan to get an early start. It may be a long day.

I also checked out my front flower beds tonight.  The bindweed is rampant, and I haven't had time to go and pull it.  The flowers look like morning glories but I understand once you have flowers, you will have seeds, and that will be an issue for next year. 

My plan of attack is to dig up all the perennials, especially the Shasta daisies which are so ugly once the flowers have finished blooming.   Then take them to the back forty and either plant them or toss them in a hole.  Then I will pull as much bindweed as possible, then fill in with fresh topsoil and mulch.  Lot of work.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Green Beans

Green beans, yellow beans, purple beans...

We went to the farm this weekend and I was surprised to find that there were green beans that were at the peak of harvest time. 

They were not ready in August when the kids visited.  In a normal year they would have been ready for harvest the second week of August.

With the extreme drought conditions, there weren't many ready then. 

But although the plants are quite stunted, there were a lot of green beans.

I spent the whole day today on green beans.  My dad's comment last year was "why spend so much time on a low value crop?"

Last night when we arrived at the farm I picked two rows.  This morning I picked one more row plus found some I had missed last night. 

These were VERY LONG rows.  I had a lot of time to think while picking.

Stoop down.  Pick 3 beans.  Stand up.  Move to the left.  Stoop down.  Repeat. 

After I while I realized that maybe if I didn't have so much up and down movement I would go faster.  So I tried hands and knees for a while. 

Suddenly I realized that I do not have as much upper body strength as I had when I was a toddler.  After 100 yards, I decided to stand, stoop, and pick again.

Picking beans, you have a lot of time to think about many things.  I thought about inventing a bean picker.  My husband later told me it's already been done.  We just don't raise enough beans to make owning one a wise investment. 

I thought about my job.  I thought about my family.  I thought about people who pick beans for a living.  We all want to eat beans, but in order for us to do that, someone has to pick the beans.  Planting the beans with an old planter takes an hour, but picking the beans takes a lot of time. 

If you leave the bean plant in the ground, it will flower again and produce more beans.  If you pick the whole plant and take it to the barn, you can sit down while you pull off the beans, but the harvest is finished.

I left an entire row unpicked.  I knew I needed to process the beans today.  You have to snap the ends off the beans before you can freeze or can them.  I did not have a pressure canner at the farm, so I chose to freeze them (It's easier and faster anyway).

First I sorted the beans by color. 

The yellow beans were a little more mature, in general, than the green and purple beans. 

The purple beans were not as prolific as they have been in previous years.

I was really impressed by the performance of the green beans.  The pods were full and the beans were long.  Even though we have been in extreme drought, when I found a plant with beans, there were 3-5 beans on each plant.  I will re-order the same variety next year.  I hope we do not have another drought year next year. 

Next I blanched the beans.  The green ones were blanched for one minute because they seemed very tender.  The purple beans were blanched for 3 minutes because they were not quite so good.  The yellow ones were blanched for four minutes because they seemed very tough. 

I packed them into zip-lock bags, labeled them, and threw them into the freezer.  About 15 quarts in all.  Not so good for as many as we planted, but considering the weather conditions, not so bad after all.

Our freind William visited while I was snapping the beans.  It evidently reminded him of down-home cooking.  He had quite a few stories about cooking coons and chicken feet.  I am not interested in these recipes. 

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