There's been an increasing challenge of late as I call in whomever is responsible for setting the dinner table that day. The (beautiful) trouble of course is all the produce coming in from the garden! Though our kitchen table is a generous nine feet long, we really need every square inch of that for evening meals with eight. There's been a scramble each day as we try to find a place to put this tray or that basket of tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers or whatever else may be coming in right now. In a pinch, with every available counter space already taken and tomatoes spilling into the library, Steve grabbed a folding table from the barn and quickly set up an 'incoming' table in the kitchen entry. Ah! Perfect! (And if I were ever to redesign a kitchen/mudroom here, which I don't think I'm actually doing, I'd certainly build such a garden incoming/prep spot somewhere.) Anyway, that quick fix got us through dinner alright, but with more coming in today, I knew it was time to get serious about some preserving this week, despite all the distractions and pulls in other directions. Last night I got to it, with a good audiobook for company (Circling the Sun), and every last pot/pan/large bowl/bucket I could find put right into use. Added to what has already been canned this summer, I think we're in really good shape for the winter ahead. I hadn't canned a lot of soup in the past years, but a recent celiac diagnosis in the family has us changing up some regular standby meals. Pasta, frozen pizza and all those other quick prepared things are in a state of flux as we sort out our favorite Gluten-Free versions of the same. Having canned soup for nights when I find ourselves in a dinner pinch is going to be so helpful, I think (I'm using the pressure canner for those, as I do for chicken stock as well). And speaking of canners, I purchased a steam canner earlier this year and have used it for some of my high acid canning. I know it's a controversial thing, but following the safety instructions to a tee and using a Ph tester as well, I feel confident about the recipes I've been using with it. The time (and water) it saves is rather remarkable, really. And I haven't had any breakage with it, which is a huge bonus.
Since I'm certainly browsing around these days looking for tried and true canning recipes and favorites, maybe you are too. So this is what went on in my kitchen last night:
*And a whole lot (enough so that I can say we're 'done' with canning relish for the year!) of the Classic Sweet Pickle Relish from Pickled Pantry by Andrea Chesman.
*Also from that book, I made some Simple Salsa. This one is a bit thinner than our Soule-Sa (from The Rhythm of Family), but it's nice to have some variety in salsa on the shelves come winter time.
*And last but not least (and the very thing that kept me up past midnight waiting for it to cook down to the right thickness), is Good Ketchup from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. I'm glad to have enough tomatoes coming in this year that I felt able to make ketchup (which takes a whole lot of tomatoes to make not a whole lot of ketchup). The 6 pints I made certainly won't last us all year long, but it will be a nice treat for a little while. Homemade ketchup is really the best.
Phew! So that was last night (I'm sparing you the morning dishes photograph because I really don't want to look at it either). I'd like a nap this morning, but don't see that happening. I do see the "incoming table" is only half empty after all of that and I know there is so much more ready to be harvested out there. Looks like I'm adding 'buy more canning jars' to the to-do list today!
Oh, the bounty of harvest season and the joy - truly - of saving it.
What's happening in your kitchen these days?