Our apple tree is giving us a bountiful harvest this year! I have a daily ritual of picking the ripe apples every evening (and raking/scooping the fallen ones into the trash). I finally had a refrigerator bin full so the kiddos and I made jelly!
After A TON of cutting and de-bugging I ended up with two instant pots full of beautiful red apples. The tree was here when we moved in so we have no clue what kind they are. We just call them red apples, lol.
We painstakingly drained and filtered the apples for most of the morning. That left us with enough juice for three full batches of jelly.
And the apply flesh/pulp the kids and I ran through the food mill to make apple sauce. I’m not a fan of applesauce but PB and Jellybean gobbled it up!
Safe to say our winter stores are good to go for jelly. No doubt some of this will end up in Christmas gifts!
Our current temperature in Kansas is roughly the surface of the sun with like 1,000% humidity. So why wouldn’t I want to haul out all my canning supplies and heat up my kitchen? I was having some anxiety related to world events and general unrest so I felt the need to make something. That feeling turned into one batch of strawberry rhubarb jam, two batches of blackberry jam, two batches of peach jam and one batch of strawberry jam.
Jellybean helped me off and on saying that he “didn’t like the hot and sticky parts”. Which we all know is almost the whole process. He did like how dark and ruby colored the blackberries cooked down into. All this fruit, except for the strawberries, was homegrown from my families gardens. To me this gave me a grounded feeling and a connection to people I can’t visit right now.
This project did make me feel a bit better. I did have a tiny bit of frustration when my peach jam didn’t set and I had to haul all the supplies back out to re-cook and add more pectin. But the re-do process did seem to work. Now I have some jelly stores for the next year and enough to give as gifts this holiday season.
My neighbor has a pear tree that was LOADED this year. I managed to be the recipient of two grocery sacks of pears this fall. I managed to get the bulk of them ripe at the same time and decided to make pear jelly.
The hubby did his best to keep the tiny humans away from the boiling hot liquids. I managed to get all the pear juice I needed and then sieved the pulp into pear-sauce for the kids.
In the end I got six pints of jelly. It is a very loose set though. I can tip my jars and see the contents move around and I see some juice on top. I need to consult my grandmother, the expert jelly maker, to see if this is a problem or not. I’m pretty sure you can attempt to re-set jelly but I’ll need to use the inter-webs.
But for now I’m feeling proud of this amber colored goodness!
When one has access to A) free babysitting and B) large volumes of tomatoes…..you make sauce!!! Here are my happy three pots of sauce bubbling away on the stove.
I only managed to burn myself once, spill a million times and actually finish the day with 20 pints of pure tomato goodness. My house uses this all the time instead of store bought sauce. Note: I don’t season my canned sauce. I prefer a blank canvas to be spiced up later.
This weekend my husband took Jellybean all by himself to the Kansas State Fair and to see his side of the family. You guys….just between you, me, and the blog….I haven’t had a weekend alone in my own house for THREE YEARS. Since before Jellybean was born, for real. I’ll let that sink in….and with the recent sleep jihad by Jellybean (we have been to a doctor and we all agree that he’s having legitimate allergy/sinus/bloody nose pain and issues….my baby has to have very minor surgery and it breaks my heart but it will help him and Lord knows we ALL need to sleep better)
But I digress, I had almost the whole weekend! Jellybean got me up multiple times between 4 and 7 am the night before so I decided to be industrious after they hit the road. I pulled seven or eight gallon bags of tomatoes frozen from our summer garden and started simmering tomato sauce. This is most the ingenious thing my grandma taught me. Since my tomatoes didn’t set enough at one time to make batches of sauce we freeze them in bags after being washed and de-stemmed. When you pull them out and dunk them in warm water the skins slough right off and the flesh can go right into the cook pot. There is no blanching or peeling….its amaze-balls!
It was hot and messy but in the end I made 3 1/2 pints of super hot jalapeno salsa for the hubby. And then 12 pints of plain tomato sauce for cooking. I’m sooo happy to be filling my pantry with these goodies for a fresh pick me up mid-winter!
I did a fair bit of knitting as well while the sauce was simmering. I’ll show you that later this week….stay tuned!
I had some rare toddler free time thanks to the miracle that is a friends sleepover. I decided to put my butt in gear! I harvested fresh basil from the garden and made some yummy pesto! I froze this batch into little discs to pull out this winter.
And I picked five lbs of apples for making jelly. I was a little disappointed that after cooking I only got four cups of juice when the jelly recipe called for seven. Jam and jelly require precise measuring so I had to fudge a little and used some of apple sauce pulp mixed with some purified water to get to seven cups of liquid. The jelly is very cloudy as a result and set very very firm. I’m definitely going to taste this before sharing with anyone…
I had been cleaning out the freezer and found four gallon sized bags of last years tomatoes. I decided to cook them down into sauce. I managed to get eight whole pints!
The house was very warm all day and I ended up running the dishwasher three times but it was very nice to stock my pantry and feel like I accomplished something off my list!
I must be a masochist…or really love my husband. I’m peeling, blending, cooking, and canning 6 more gallon bags of homegrown tomatoes today. All so I can feed his salsa addiction over the winter and possibly give salsa out as Christmas gifts…
At least this cooking day I invested in a stool for the kitchen to rest my swollen preggo feet. Kind of a fool me once fool me twice kind of epiphany, lol.
This should be the last hurrah for my canner this summer and then I’m going to KNIT ALL THE THINGS until jellybean arrives!
My nesting seems to involve making sure we have food after Jellybean arrives. I previously talked about canning tomatoes and apples, and my adventures have continued!
This past three day weekend I added to the freezer and pantry!
Eight crock pot meals of the chicken variety. I used this pin/blog post from Pinterest for those interested.
I turned some beef neck bones into rich beef broth (frozen in freezer safe ball jars) and there was even enough beef bits for two BBQ sandwiches!
Then I turned these pots into 9 more pints of tomato sauce. And not pictured was four pans of beef and three cheese lasagna! I used my own recipe but everything is fully cooked and so we just have to thaw and bring back up to temp! Easy peasy and yummy for our post baby fog!!
That brings my count to nine casseroles, eight crock pot meals, and more cans of apple sauce and tomato sauce than I can count right now. Pardon me while I rest on my laurels and put my feet up.
I’m interested….does anyone else out there prep for busy times by filling the freezer?
My family has a ridiculously large garden. And I’m blessed to reap the rewards. Right now I have 8 gallon bags of frozen home grown delicious tomatoes in my freezer. Ripe and ready to hit the sauce pot. And that is literally just the tip of the iceberg so to speak of what the plants produced.
I learned how to cook, season, and can my own tomato sauce and salsa last summer. And boy….let me tell you how delicious that was all winter to have yummy jars to cook into my casseroles and crock pot!
Jellybean is growing and growing so I don’t quite have the get up an go of last summer. But my plan is to work slow and steady today with lots of water and sitting breaks. All so I can convert those juicy tomatoes into sauce. It’s a rough day when your food cravings crash against your swollen pregnancy feet, lol.
Wish me luck! I hope to have some good foodie photos to show when I’m done 🙂