Yes, Betsy and I have been busy as squirrels this week, preparing our garden produce for eating in the winter and spring. Canning, freezing and pickling like mad, we have placed in our basement cupboard and freezer lots of fruits and vegetables to enjoy when the snow flies.
Here’s where we are so far:
Tomatoes. We have canned 18 quarts and have five left over from last year. That’s about half of what we typically preserve, because many of our tomato plants were zapped by late blight. I remove the skins while Betsy puts them in jars and then in a hot-water bath. We have about 45 tomatoes left, but we expect that our canning is done.
Beans. Our plants have been prolific this year, but Betsy doesn’t like the taste of beans that have been frozen. So we make Chili Dilly Beans, in which the raw beans are placed in jars with vinegar, red pepper flakes, mustard seed, dill seed, salt and garlic. We’ve put up 19 quarts (some are shown at right in photo). We chop off the ends and string them, a task that goes twice as fast when we do it together.
Pickles. It was a great year for cucumbers. We’ve made 19 pints of bread & butter pickles, a sweet variety that’s great with fish (at left in photo). Six of them will be for sale at the Cranberry Fair at First Congregational Church in Amherst on Nov. 21. Betsy made seven quarts of sour fermented pickles that can sit in the refrigerator for six months.
Chutney. When late blight killed the tomato plants, we picked many of them green. They were turned into Green Tomato Chutney, a condiment that’s tangy and a good meat accompaniment. It makes a great gift. We made 25 pints of it.
Peppers. These plants, which grew on the site of a former compost pile, did very well. We froze about eight bags of sliced green peppers and will freeze a lot more after they turn red. We also have some prolific hot peppers called Czech Black and we’ll freeze those whole.
Peaches. We don’t grow these but buy seconds. We canned six quarts of them and froze three pints. Peaches are wonderful to eat in the winter.
Berries. We froze lots of plastic boxes of strawberries that we picked locally. Our blueberry plants did well, not as ravaged by fruitflies as last year, and we froze them whole, in many plastic boxes. Our raspberry bushes are yielding well and will continue to produce until frost. We pick them together, and Betsy separates out the bad ones, squishes them, adds sugar, and freezes them so that she can make jam out of them whenever she feels like it.
Zucchinis. I made 15 to 20 quarts of curried zucchini soup and froze it. Betsy sliced up some and froze them in bags for use in winter soups and stir-fries. I made lots of zucchini bread, some of which will be for sale at the Cranberry Fair.
Eggplants. I’ve frozen about seven plastic boxes of Eggplant Caviar, and plan to do more as they bulk up. I have about 12 eggplants still growing, though I wonder if they’ll get much bigger in this cooler weather.
Next month we’ll pick about 15 butternut squashes and store them under our bed. And we’ll buy lots of apple “seconds” and turn them into applesauce, which we will can for future use. One of our favorite desserts after a winter dinner is plain applesauce, heated in the microwave, or, it we think ahead enough, on the woodstove.