Fall Projects

This is a monster post with lots of projects because I’ve been awful about keeping up with things here. Unfortunately, life’s been too busy for blogging.  It hasn’t been too busy for canning, though.  (That would be awful. A nightmare! Can you imagine?)fall preservesfrom left to right: fig preserves, stewed heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomato jam, wild elderberry preserves, barlett pears in red wine syrup, barlett pears in maple syrup, roasted sweet peppers, oven dried figs, and stewed tomatoes with fresh herbs

Depending on where you live, you might be able to do some of these projects still.  If not, there’s always next fall …

TOMATOEStomatoesMy revelation this year is that I don’t actually care much about canning tomato sauce; plain stewed tomatoes prove to be much more versatile.  During the rest of the year, I use them in all kinds of soups, stews, curries, braises and sauces.  This year I canned as many heirloom tomatoes as I could using this method (which also happens to be really, really simple).

STEWED HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

Ingredients:

  • heirloom tomatoes: my favorites varieties are yellow and pink marbled, such as old german, hillbilly, and pineapple
  • lemon juice
  • salt (optional)

Wash the tomatoes. Remove the core with a pairing knife.  Slice them in half, or quarters if they’re really huge. Put the tomato halves in a large, nonreactive pot with a cup of water.  Cook them on medium low, stirring occasionally, until they’ve reduced in volume by about half.  You’ll be able to see that they reduce their juices during the beginning of cooking and everything looks very watery, but after an hour …or two or three (it depends on the batch size), most of the water cooks off, leaving just stewed tomatoes. Season with salt if you want.

Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids.

Add 1 tbs. of bottled lemon juice to each pint jar and 2 tbs. of bottled lemon juice to each pint jar (you can use whichever size you prefer), and then ladle the hot tomatoes into the jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Process pints for 40 minutes and quarts for 45 minutes.  Remember to adjust for altitude if necessary.cherry tomatoesAlso, I’ve been making tomato jam using this recipe from last year, just swapping out those yellow plum tomatoes with cherry tomatoes. I added some curry powder to one of the batches and it was lovely.  Cherry tomatoes make fantastic jam. You should do it. Seriously.

PEPPERS

I swore that this year I wouldn’t just turn all my peppers into hot pepper jelly, like I usually do. Instead, I used a bunch of them to make these marinated roasted peppers from Hitchhiking to Heaven.  They’re absolutely going to be a new pantry stale for me.  It’s a lot of work to roast and peel all those peppers, but it’s well worth it.  peppers for roastingI didn’t really do much to the recipe except omit the smoked paprika because I didn’t have any and I was too lazy to go get some. One note, though: roasting peppers indoors under the broiler will make your house smell really weird and funky.  Or at least, I thought so.  Next time I’m doing it on the grill, outside.

FIGS

I made fig preserves, but they really didn’t turn out quite as good as I was hoping they would.  I’m way more excited about the oven-dried figs that I made after that.  They’re delicious on their own, but I’m trying to save them for the holidays so I can put them in fruit cakes.  figs

ELDERBERRIES

I made wild elderberry preserves for the first time this year.  They’re …  weird.  Elderberries have a very unique flavor.  There’s an earthiness to them that I haven’t quite wrapped my taste buds around yet, but I think it might grow on me.elderberriesI’ve read that elderberries have immune-boosting properties and can shorten the duration of the flu, so I cooked them with honey, lemon juice and spices to make a loose preserve that I’m planning to mix into green smoothies during the winter time.  I can’t decide if I love my recipe or not, so instead of sharing it let me point you to a great Mother Earth News article that includes several recipes for elderberries.

and last but not least….

PEARS

Local bartlett pears are hands down my favorite fruit to preserve of the year.  They’re divine.  I made pear sauce, oven dried pears, canned pears in maple syrup, pear cardamom jam, pears in spiced red wine syrup, and a new one for this year – spiced maple pear jam, which I think deserves its own post, so stay tuned. bartlett pear

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2 thoughts on “Fall Projects

  1. My experience with figs is that they just don’t translate well into preserves…but, if I had a plethora of them, I would try your roasting technique, and THEN try making preserves…that would intensify the flavor, and the resulting spread might actually have enough figgy goodness.

  2. Oh man do I need a greenhouse. I think I would fill the whole thing with basil and heirloom tomatoes.
    Maybe THIS spring I will convince my husband…. 😉

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