For the last two weekends we have been working on harvesting, freezing and canning the rest of the corn. By the end of Sunday (August 29) we had frozen over 200 quarts of sweet corn – lost track of counting somewhere along the line. Had several friends stop by and pick corn for their own use plus we made 5 gallons of chicken corn soup, which we canned.
Jeff helped a friend butcher a beef – and came home with one of the hind quarters. He cut a lot of it into cubes for stew, had some ground into hamburg and used the bones and left over meat to make about 5 gallons of vegetable beef soup. Froze all the meat and canned the soup.
Continued working on tomatoes at the same time – made more spaghetti sauce, canned 12 quarts of plain tomato juice and made a batch (20 pints) of black bean-corn-tomato salsa. No end in sight yet for the tomato harvest – currently have two 5 gallon buckets of roma tomatoes in the refrigerator, ready to be processed.
Last week we also pulled out all the irrigation lines – (except those that are permanent in the blackberries) – and used the tractor with the bush hog to mow the corn stalks and the fields around the garden and corn patch – which made everything look a lot better.
The weather continues to be hot and dry and the water level in the pond is rather low. Lars started Middle School on Wednesday and we dropped Samantha off in Brooklyn on Friday for her senior year at Pratt. Midget football started a few weeks ago, and with Sam off in college we’ve got to drive Lars to practice three evenings a week (which kind of cuts into the weeding time). Zach and Rachel closed on their house in Ohio today, so they will be moving in a month.
Our corn in the house-side field is ripe! We had our annual “husking party”, where everyone pitched in with picking, husking, blanching, cutting and freezing. We started Friday afternoon and worked through Saturday afternoon – at the end we had frozen 129 (very full) QUARTS!, canned 7 quarts and 17 pints of corn. Friends and neighbors also picked corn for their own use – but we still have more on this field and will continue to work on in. Plus there is the second field of sweet corn on the pond side, which was planted three weeks later.
Also got some blackberries (from our old house), froze some, and made pies and tarts.
Here is my favorite Blackberry Pie recipe:
For the 10″ double crust:
- 2 cups flour
- scant 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 sticks of butter
- 1 tablespoon of crisco
- approximately 1/4 cup cold water – enough to form a pie dough
- roll out two circles, place one in pie plate, use second to cover
For the filling:
- 6 cups freshly picked blackberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- mix above ingredients and pour into pie plate
- Cut 1 tablespoon butter into small pieces, dot on top of the mixed filling before covering with second half of dough, make slits into top crust
- make egg wash (I just use egg white, whipped) and brush it on top of the dough
Bake at 425 degree F for 40 minutes (really good with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream)
At the very end of July we finally got all the beans picked and the stalks pulled out. The last picking was done by friends (thanks Cindy!) Our total bean harvest resulted in 40 canned quarts and about 60 frozen quarts (not counting what we ate and what we gave away). At this point we also put away 30 pints of bread and butter pickles and 42 quarts of kosher style dill pickles – cucumbers are still growing, so we may make more. Just picked another 2 buckets of roma tomatoes to start our 3rd batch of spaghetti sauce – each batch makes about 20 quarts, depending on how much we eat before canning 🙂
Bread and Butter Pickles (sweet)
4 lbs cucumbers, cut into slices (use food processor slicing blade)
2 lbs thinly sliced onions
1/2 cup canning salt (do NOT use regular salt)
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. mustard seed
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon ginger
3 cups apple cider vinegar
- Place cucumbers and onions in a large bowl, layering with salt. Cover with ice cubes and let stand for about 1.5 hours, then drain and rinse twice.
- Combine spices with vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil, add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil.
- Pack hot pickles and liquid into pint jars, remove air bubbles, adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
After a wonderful week at the beach we returned to PA to find out that everything on our farm had a major growth spurt. It rained over 5 inches while we were gone – lucky for us we had just gotten the new rainspouting installed on the barn the day before we left for vacation. The vegetable plants, as well as the weeds and grass, had grown incredibly fast. We got home around 10 am on Saturday after a 12 hour drive from South Carolina, took a short nap and got to work in the garden. By that evening we had picked and cleaned 1 bushel of green beans and pulled all the weeds out of the herb garden and the flower beds around the house – 6 wheelbarrow loads of weeds for the compost pile! We picked and processed another bushel of beans on Sunday and altogether froze 24 quarts. These were the earlier variety of snap beans, the second variety we planted is just now in blossom.
We also picked 3 buckets (the 5 gallon size) of cucumbers, and loads of zucchini as well – shared much of this weekend’s harvest with friends. Luckily Rachel and Zach had kept up with the zucchini while the rest of us were at the beach – Rachel baked 12 loaves of zucchini bread that week.
On Monday evening, after a spice shopping spree, we made our first batch of “bread and butter” pickles and canned 7 pints. We have not made pickles for a long time, and our plan is to experiment with different recipes and methods, from fermenting, to fresh pack (like the batch we just did) to refrigerator pickles. We’ll have to wait and see which ones turn out best. Even the fresh pack pickles take about 4 weeks in the jar in order to develop their flavor. Here is hoping that they stay crunchy after being canned 🙂
Temperatures soared up to 110 degrees this afternoon, it has not rained for days and there is not rain in the forecast – luckily we have irrigation in our blackberry rows and the vegetable garden. Both are doing great:
Finished picking and shelling peas this weekend as well and froze 10 quarts (we really only planted the peas for fresh eating – just had a few extra). Continued harvesting red beets, potatoes and onions for immediate use.