Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August's end

There's been a hint of September in the air these last few mornings and I've been noticing a sense of urgency rising in me about the vegetable garden. Much is ripening now with the help of wide sunny days and heavy dewy nights, despite our low precipitation. Wherever I am in the garden I hear bees and birds and have to think they're also feeling the gentle but persistent nudge of autumn.
And so I've been doing a bit of "putting by" in preparation for those long, gardenless days that are bound to be here sooner than I might wish.

Three more jars of pickled beets whose color is spectacular. And green beans, stringless this time, blanched and flash frozen side by side to fill 2 cookie sheets before being bagged and set in the freezer.

Then there are the tomatoes. Until now we've been eating all we've harvested, keeping up with them pretty well. But Mother Nature is cranking up production and I can only eat so many each day. So yesterday morning early before our much needed rain I picked tomatoes. First round these 3 full containers went into the sink and I went back to the garden to look again.

And found even more tomatoes.

 Clearly I couldn't keep all of them in the sink while the work went on, so I found a large plastic storage bin in the basement, lined it with newspapers, set it on the kitchen floor and filled it up.
Then the work really began.
You can see the soup pot we had been using until now for our water bath processing. We'd been working with small batches of pint jars for our pickling projects, so it worked just fine. But clearly this wasn't going to be up to the tomato job. So I went out and bought a serious enamelware pot with rack/lifter which can handle 7 quarts at a time. Much better.
Here is the result of my first attempt at simple canned tomatoes, the genuine article. They contain only cut tomatoes with skins and cores removed, salt and lemon juice as directed by the Ball canning folks.

Unfortunately I was not home to hear the most satisfying sound:  each jar sealing itself with a most lovely "Ping!" I had been invited to join a friend for an early dinner and left the house only moments after pulling them out of the new pot. Happily all were sealed when I returned. You can see that I could have packed the tomatoes more tightly in the jars as there is juice settled at the bottom. But all in all a happy conclusion to a full day.
And the chickens were delighted as well since they were the eager recipients of any cracked, nibbled or split tomatoes I came across while harvesting. I wondered if maybe by the time I went into the house to begin the canning they were clucking among themselves "Not more tomatoes!" It didn't seem like that to me as they ran over to each as it was lobbed over their fence and went to it.
Today I'll try to get to the rest of those I picked yesterday, mostly smaller tomatoes, a longer job of skinning and coring them, but I'll give it a go. Oh, and there are plenty more tomatoes in the garden.


  1. That is a great tomato harvest. I only grew a few cherry tomatoes this year and could have done with growing a few more. I use them a lot in cooking and I am sure your jars of tomatoes are really tasty. It has been a great year for apples in the UK and I am trying to think of many ways to use them up!

  2. Oh, what bounty!

    Thank you so much for your kind words yesterday. They helped.


  3. Sharon, I can just about taste those tomatoes!! What a treat to have them during the long winter!
    My dad always kept a very large vegetable garden and his tomatoes were spectacular. Every September our kitchen looked like this as he and my mom put the tomatoes up. What a nice reminder of that!