Friday, August 7, 2009

Canning Abyss


Not so many of you are posting these days. I know why, too. You have entered the canning abyss. I am there as well, but doggedly attempting to keep up with sharing what I am doing, so that I can do my part in saving the world. Well, my little part of it anyhow.

I keep meaning to fix this photo, I know it's cut off at the right edge, like all of them, but I will probably never do it and I want to post it anyhow. The sweet peas that are making me envious enough to plant some of my own next year.


Yesterday morning, after Bible study and chores and such, more canning meant a sudden trip to town on a mission to obtain more granulated sugar for 'berrious' endeavors. Also, the chickens seemed to be hungry, so we had to pick up some feed.

On the return home I tackled more jam making. When you've got over 4 gallons staring at you because there is no room in the fridge, you've got to do something quick! So small batches at a time, since I learned that the pectin actually breaks down after too much heat, I made three more batches. The first one was just Hot Blackberry Jam, in which you chop up peppers to spice it up.

Michael doesn't like it too hot, so I put in about a 1/2 cup to 10 cups of berries and 6 cups of sugar. It gives it just a little fun zip, without leaving any burning sensation in your mouth.

In the mean time, Michael once again left for the netherworld of the lower garden. He is like me, in that the trudging up and down the hill is tiresome in the heat. Such babies we are. I am very grateful for our home, but my thoughts do occasionally wander to the luxuries of flat land. A large, green and shady yard off the kitchen door, with chairs and tables to sit in and watch the flowers grow, and a hammock swaying gently between a couple of gorgeously perfect trees. The garden gate just at the edge, invitingly beckoning to...

Never mind, back to reality. Michael grabbed several baskets and went down with the camera.

Here is the melon patch with all the marker flags Michael put in the other day. They really help.

Bob? Is that you? (Inside joke for Veggie Tales fans.)

Now here you see our "Three Sisters" garden.
Where is the first sister, the one with the corn rows, you may ask?
She's been pulled down by her bean-pole second sister and choked to death.

The youngest sister, the fat and plump Squashita, is battling Bean-pole, for dominance, and it I think will eventually win.

This is how it looked a couple of weeks ago.

Lessons learned. 1. There is a reason you don't plant so many beans around your corn. Half as many beans, not half as much corn. 2. Need more space. Need much more space!

Michael is chomping at the bit to get his hands on those broom corn stalks. He took the machete down and checked them out.

Oh, and while we're at it, I took this picture of the grass that is now thickly growing over what used to be mere horse pasture dirt and weeds every summer. Cool!

Back to Michael's photos. Here is that giant pumpkin. There's Michael's size 9 foot next to it. Victory is not so sweet since it looks like there may be some bet welching going on...

So we are letting the plant grow more pumpkins. They'll be nice for more holiday decor.

These beans are fun. We planted a variety of pole beans, as well as a bunch of pinto beans from the store, so I have no idea what beans are what.

My mistake on the melon naming the other day. That honeydew was not a Prescott Fond Blanc. This is.

So this melon was perfect, maybe a little past ripe.

This one was a little under ripe, but still good.

And the PFB was completely under ripe. It's supposed to be bright orange and very fragrant. But we did more reading up and Michael is confident he's got more of an idea now.

Here are the ones he missed before flagging.

Boy at play.

Sadly, that one rolled right into the garden. LOL Volunteers next year!

Back inside, I am making two more batches of jam, but these are hotter and with spices.

I added about 2 cups of Jalapenos to 12 cups of berries and 7 cups of sugar, as well a couple of teapoons of ground cloves. Yummy! I've also done this to strawberry jams in the past. The batch was slightly too big, though, and I cheated and added a little liquid pectin to set it.

I made 15 pints of blackberry jam yesterday.

Then still had more berries to use up, so I made another 3 quarts of blackberry pie filling. This time I cut down on the water to half. I was not pleased with the runniness of the first batch, and I also wanted more berries in proportion to the liquid. Here is a comparison of my first batch on the right, with the reduced liquid batch on the left.

Here is a cooling spot out of the work area of the kitchen. The spare room, which is now canning storage. I turn the overhead fan on to cool the bottles a bit before 'storing' them on the floor.

Then I still had tomatoes to do, and trying to get it all done before we had a movie night. So I used the "Italian Tomato Sauce" recipe from the Ball book and made three and a half quarts.

Here is my canning cache so far.

Michael made stuffed jalapenos again, and I made veggie sandwiches, and we turned off the light, lit candles, and watched "City of Embers", all achy and tired on the couch. Then we watched the light of the full moon through the windows and made up limericks for fun before going to bed.

Sleep was sweet.



  1. Rest well, you deserve it!


  2. How blessed is your child.....he appreciates it today I am sure, but one day when he is much older, he will look back and it will have meant everything....having a Mamma who taught him so well, who embraced all of the "sweet things" in life with her whole heart, defying the odds. You are a strong and beautiful woman Faith. How blessed is your child!

  3. Faith,
    I know work is work... but you and Michael make it look like fun! You have got one awesome kid on your hands!

  4. Great pics Faith! Wow, that pumpkin is HUGE!! I have to say, I've never seen corn that high before, up here in WI, it doesn't get that high. Ours is about 6-1/2 ft. right now, hopefully will be harvesting some soon.

    Looks like you have plenty of canned goods to make it through until next season!

    How many square feet is your garden, approximately?

    R Dean

  5. WOW, Faith, there's so much to talk about!! I'm so glad I don't have to explain myself to my gardening friends! You know what I've been doing!

    Your garden look really jungley. I love the flag idea! Unfortunately I don't have enough melons to require flagging, mine didn't do too well this year. Your squashes and melons look beautiful and delicious, wonderful selection.

    Take care!

  6. Kat,

    I do hope I am building great memories, and great character. But I am blessed to have been given such great foundations to work with.

    Living in the country is also such a blessing. I wish all kids could grow up this way.


  7. SBF,

    What do ya' mean? Isn't it fun for everybody??? ;) LOL


  8. Dean,

    That's the broom corn. Did you see the regular corn?

    No, I didn't think so. It's so short it's underneath the squash and beans. LOL

    The main garden is about 75 feet square. Then there are 6 4 by 50 foot beds for the strawberries, herbs and flowers, a small vineyard of 100 plants, and one row of blackberries. I used to have a lot more, and hope to again. I got a lead on some free raspberries today, and those were on my wish list for this fall. :)


  9. Jo,

    No, we all just begin to talk, and those listening just nod their heads in complete understanding. LOL

    The garden used to have rows, and boy, do we wish it still did. We have some awful work to do on it, hopefully by Monday.

    Michael is already talking about how we need to have a neater garden next year. ;)



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