Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Some Blabber then the Spiced Pear Jam Recipe

Well, it has been rather interesting times in terms of the financial system, following it has almost been like watching a soap opera. Try not to shutter when you check your portfolio's because it is not going to be pretty. Lets hope something gets figured out soon to stabilize things or I am going to be on a diet of canned relish, pickles & jam, ha!

Speaking of canning, I finished my last canning project for the year and not a moment too soon. This one did not go as smoothly. The first problem was my inability to read the directions, instead of first checking the recipe I just presumed I need 16 cups of chopped pears when I only need eight cups. I killed allot of time coring, skinning and chopping double the amount of pears. Then I used the wrong recipe for the pectin I had and ended up using double the amount I was supposed to use.

In the end the jam did gel but not as much as it should have, it does taste mighty good though. Next time I make this I will not leave it to 1:30am, not really on the ball at that hour and use the correct recipe below. Kind of funny that I am not the only person canning into the middle of the night, Engineered Garden was doing a very similar recipe at the same time, small world.

Here is the recipe:


Spiced Pear Jam
Yields 8 500ml Jars (8 pint jars)
*this recipe is doubled, the original had half of all these things

8 cups prepared pears, 4 liter basket (4 quart basket)
1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 lemons
15 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp butter
2 pouches Certo fruit pectin

Core, skin & chop the pears until you have exactly 8 cups of fruit. Now bring the canner to the boil and sterilize your jars and heat your sealer lids.

Add the fruit, lemon juice, sugar, spices & butter to a large pot. Bring this mixture to the boil well stirring. Once a rolling boil is reach add the two pouches of pectin, stir constantly well bring it back to the boil. Once the boil is reached, boil for 1 minute.

Before pectin & boiling

ready to be skimmed & jarred

Now remove from heat, skim the foam off and then ladle into the sterilized jars. Place the sealer lid on, tighten the threaded lid on and place into the canner. Boil for 10 minutes and then transfer onto a t-towel to cool.

The end result is a very tasty jam that is good on toast as well as a hand pie filling, cheese cake topping or even over ice cream.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday September 26th Sunset & Other Photography


Sherman Falls, Ancaster Ontario


A rose taken by the Grand River


More from my last visit to Niagara Falls

Friday, September 26, 2008

Harvest Post, One of last few left.

Today I headed out to harvest what needed to be picked. It was a nice breezy fall day, cloudy but no rain. This will probably be the second last harvest post I will have for the season. Asides from the brussel sprouts, the peppers and some radishes there really isn't much left.

Before I get to what I harvested I like to share a photo of my disappearing lettuce seedlings. I was rather shocked to notice I have one lettuce seeding left with no sign that they where even growing there before. Under closure inspection I noticed some dried slim trails which brought me to the conclusion that snugs have devourer my whole lettuce row. I guess I will be planting some more, I just hope that there is enough time for them to produce.

On to the harvest, first thing I harvested was the fingerling potatoes. They really did not produce much, about a third of them did not sprout leaving 7 plants and they are not a very heavy yielding potato. I don't think I will grow these next year as I really don't have the space to waste on wimpy plants. They do however produce some of the most interesting potatoes I have ever seen.

This is one spud!

I then picked all the lima beans on the two vines I planted. I have never eaten lima beans before so I will have to give them a try over the next couple days. I was expecting them to produce long beans but it just formed short pods with 2-3 beans in each one. They do yield a fare amount off of just two vines.

The last thing I harvested today was my pumpkins that were supposed to be zucchini's. I read that the way of knowing when to harvest a pumpkin is when you press your nail into it that it does not cause an indentation. You can also leave them on the vine until a light frost but they must not be exposed to a hard frost. I ended up with two small pie pumpkins and one large pie pumpkin. They are destine to be pumpkin pie but I will store them for a little while first. They weighted 1lbs 4oz, 1lbs 15oz & 3lbs 13oz.

Well I as out I also ran into two toads. They were both living in the potatoes and didn't like me disturbing there home. The large on took off until it was cornered between the house and raised bed and the little one stayed in the area well I was digging but off to the side.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Garden Update

Things have really slowed down in the veggie patch. I have also noticed a large reduction in sun light hitting the area. It seems that with the sun lower in the sky it has causing the hedge to cast allot of shade for most of the morning. As appose to the summer months when the area receives full sun from sun up to about 3pm in the afternoon. This is not going to benefit my falls crops which are growing slowly as it is. This hedge seem to be my nemesis, for starters it is the neighbors hedge that I have to maintain, it cast shade over 1/2 the side yard in the summer that could be more raised beds and now it is shading the whole area in the morning. On the plus side it is good screening from the neighbors yard, it is good habitat for birds and it would be impossible to replace it with a fence of the same size(those pesky bylaws.) We have thought of removing the hedge and replacing it with a shorter fence so I may be putting more thought into that.

My tomatoes are finished for the year, not because of frost but because all the fruit has ripened and only tiny fruit are left. I will be clearing the plants soon and composting them. This year I had a total of 97 tomatoes off of 5 indeterminate heirloom plants and one cherry tomato in a hanging basket. I was actually surprised that the cherry tomato did not produce more fruit, only about 1/3 of this years tomatoes. The average cherry tomato plant should produce 100 fruit on one plant, I guess being in a hanging basket hampered the yield. The heirlooms did really well as they always do with the Japanese Trifele Black tomato produce tons of tomatoes.

I have stopped picking beans because I have ate enough beans this year and they seemed to being getting woody really fast. The cucumbers have stopped producing which is kind of sad, I like cucumbers. I will also be pulling these vines out soon.

My bell peppers just don't want to turn colour. They are loaded with peppers, so much so they all fell over in storms we have had and I had to stake them for a second time. I have eaten of few of them green but they would be much better if they turned to the red & chocolate colour they are supposed to be. Not sure what the problem is here, maybe from the cold spring we had. The banana peppers on the other hand have done really well producing sweet peppers all summer. Some of which even turned red, maybe they should teach the bell peppers a lesson.

Lastly, the fingerling potatoes have died down last week so they are ready to be harvested. I will harvest them some time this week.

With that said, there will be a harvest post near the end of the week about my total potato yield as well as a few other things I have to harvest.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dill Pickle Recipe

Well I was making the relish's I thought I might as well make some dill pickles. They are incredibly easy to make and fast too. You may notice that the image below shows 6 jars and the recipe makes 7. This is because one of the jars cracked when I put it in the canner to process, releasing its contents into the canner. Not that big of a deal though, I think it was because it was an older jar.

I chose to make dills that are packing into jars, then filled with a vinegar solution and left to pickle in the jars for about a month. There are many ways of doing dills, another way is shown over at Sinfonian's blog, Sinfonian's Square Foot Garden. He place the cucumbers in a crock w/ spices, then cover them with a vinegar solution and let them pickle in an open air environment. You can also make dills that are fermented in a water/spice/salt solution that take on a sour taste naturally. These are like the dills you find in the refrigerator aisle at the grocery store, here is a link to that recipe.

Now that we have had our daily preserving class, here is the recipe for the dills I made:

Dill Pickles
Yields 7 one liter jars (7 quart jars)

7 liter or 7 quart basket of cucumbers
4 cups white vinegar
8 1/2 cups water
2/3 to 3/4 cup pickling salt (adjust to taste)
14 large cloves of garlic
14 dill flowers

Start by sterilizing your jars, I have started using the oven to sterilize the jars. This is done by placing cleaned jars in a cold oven on a sheet pan and then turn the oven to 225 for 20 minutes or until ready to use.

Once the jars are being sterilized put the canner on the stove and start bring it to a boil. Then place your sealer lids in a small pot, cover them with hot water and put on low heat to soften the rubber seal.

Now scrub the cucumbers and cut the flower end & stem end off. The flower end is necessary because it can make for a less crunchy pickle if left on and the stem end I remove just because I don't like to eat stems, so the stem is optional. Now if you are using larger cucumbers quarter them and if you are using baby size cucumbers leave them as is.

After that, add the vinegar, water & salt to a pot and bring to the boil. Well that is heating remove the flowers heads from the fresh dill and roughly chop the 14 clovers of garlic.

Once the vinegar solution is boiling, remove the jars from the oven. Place 1 head of dill and 2 cloves of garlic in the bottom of each jar. Then pack the jars with the cucumbers and place 1 head of dill on the top of the cucumbers. Now ladle the vinegar solution over the cucumbers until the liquid level comes within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar.

Now place a sealer lid on each jar and tighten the threaded lid until just tight. Then transfer them into the canner making sure the water is 1 inch above the jars. Boil for 10 minutes once the boil is reached.

Now transfer the jars to a t-towel to cool. Once cooled and sealed, they need to pickle for 3-4 weeks to take on the sour tastes. The hardest part, waiting.

Amber Relish Recipe

Here goes relish recipe number three.

My Mom has made this recipe since she was my age. She received this recipe from a lady she worked with at a textile factory. Now I am not going to say how long ago that was but most will know there has not been textile factories in North America from some time. The ladies name was Rose and she sewed elastics into underwear until she retired at 73, now that's dedication.

This relish is very similar to a bread & butter pickle recipe and has a lovely yellow colour thanks to the turmeric. This recipe has a much milder taste.

Amber Relish
yeilds 8 500ml jars (8 pint jars)

7 liter (7 quart) basket of cucumbers
9-12 onions, the size of cooking onions
2 large red bell peppers
1/4 cup pickling salt
4 cups white vinegar
4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric

This recipe is best done with very large pickling cucumbers(8"-9", called relish cucumbers) or field/slicing cucumbers.

Start by removing the skin of the cucumbers followed by removing the seeds and membrane. If you can only find dill pickle size cucumbers just remove the skin as there is next to no seeds in the smaller cucumber.

Now use a food grinder to grind up the cucumbers, onions & peppers. After all is ground you should have approx. 15 cups of ground vegetables.

Discard the juice and then place the ground vegetables in two large bowls. Now add 1/8 cup pickling salt to each bowl and pour boiling water over the vegetables until just covered, stir and let sit for 3 hours.

Then transfer into a colander to drain, then rinse and press most of the moisture out. Now add 3 1/2 cups vinegar & 4 cups sugar to a deep pot and bring to a boil. Well that is heating add the 1/2 cup of flour to a small bowl and slowly whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of vinegar to form a paste. Once the vinegar solution is boiling whisk the flour paste in vigorously until thickened. Then stain the solution if lumps have formed and return to the pot. Now add all the spices, bring to the boil and add the ground vegetables. Boil mixture for 2 minutes once the boil is reached.

Now ladle the relish into hot sterilized jars, place the sealer lid on and tighten lids until it is just tight. Then place the jars in a canner and boil for 10 minutes once the boil is reached.

After 10 minutes transfer the jars to a t-towel and let cool.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Canned Green Relish Recipe

The relish hit a little bump in the road on Saturday. I left the cucumbers in the bag from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon and was surprised to notice that they had gone moldy over night. I guess this is due to it being the end of the cucumber season in my area, combined with loads of rain this year which has made mold/fungal diseases rampant and probably not the best food handling at the farm. I didn't bother going back to that particular vegetable stand and instead had to travel about 30km around trip to find a different source. I guess if everything went smoothly life wouldn't be as interest.

So after that problem was solved I proceed to make the relish, here is the recipe:

Green Relish
Yields 6 500ml jars(6 pint jars)

7 liter or 7 quart basket of cucumbers
1 huge or 4 small White Onion
10 medium Green Peppers
1 Tablespoon Turmeric
1/2 Cup Pickling Salt
1 Tablespoon Mustard Seed
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
2 Teaspoons Allspice
2 Cups Brown Sugar
4 Cups Cider Vinegar

Note that this is one spicy relish recipe, not in terms of heat but flavor. If you are looking for a more mild taste you could cut the spices by half or more, I wouldn't cut the mustard seed down though, it is more for texture then flavor.

Start by using a food grinder to grind up the cucumbers, peppers & onions. I placed the grind so it overhung a colander which was placed on a deep sheet pan. This way the juice will drain as you are grinding and makes for much less cleanup. It is best to do one vegetable at a time and you will need 10 cups cucumbers, 3 1/2 cups peppers & 2 cups onions.

Once everything is ground up place all the vegetables in a colander and add 1/2 cup pickling salt & 1 tablespoon of turmeric and stir very well. Let this sit for 3 hours in the sink.

After 3 hours rise well to remove the salt, flush about 2-3 times its volume. When it is rinsed I then used a salad spinner as I did with the raw sauce to remove the excess water. Again you could just press the water out within the colander.

Once most of the moisture is removed set the mixture aside and proceed to making the vinegar solution. This is done by combining the vinegar, sugar & spices in a deep pot and bring to the boil. Once it is at a rolling boil add the vegetable mixture, stir and remove from the heat. Now you can take a break and let the mixture sit for 12 hours or over night to marinate and get the pectins working.

After the resting period start by washing and heating your jars and sealer lids. Once they are up to temperature bring the relish mixture to the boil and then proceed to filling the jars. Once filled put the lids on, then place the jars in a canner, boil for 10 minutes once the broil is reached. Now remove the jars, placing them on a t-towel and let cool. It is best leave the jars as is once they are on the counter for at least a few hours, don't dry the lids or test the seal until they have cooled.

The sealed jars can now be stored outside of the fridge in a cool, dark place for a few years.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

It is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day again which was started by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. I missed last months so I will post a few things from last month as well as what is currently in bloom in the yard. Things are certainly starting to gear down now and looking a little weathered but it is an enjoyable time of year. This is because there is next to no maintenance, almost all of the weeds have germinated and been pulled out as well as there is really no watering needed in the fall. Just sit back and enjoy, that is until the leaves fall from the trees.

All images have been taken with a Nikon D40 w/ 18-55mm stock lens. The images have not been cropped or edited although they have been resized so they load faster.

Brugmansia, This was taken in August

Brugmansia just opening, also taken in August. This is a great plant,
in the fall you take it into a cool, dark spot, basement or
garage to overwinter. Stop watering when you bring it in,
it will drop all of its leaves and go dormant. Then all you
need to do is water in lighly once a month until spring. Then put
it back outside and it will flower most of the summer.

Toad Lily (tricyrtis formosana)

solanum family, I have lost the tag so not sure of the variety.
It grows to a large spiny plant with glossy leaves and produces
small green, veined fruits in late fall. It is poisonous.
I will post photos of the fruit once they develope.


Black-Eyed Susan (rudbeckia)

ligularia dentata

Japanese Anemone

The urns with fall plantings w/ the front
perennial border in the background.

cimicifuga ramosa

cimicifuga ramosa

Great Black Wasp in flight, very ominous.
Taken with continuous shoot mode.
Plant is veronicastrum virginicum
Take in August

Great Golden Digger Wasp, thanks for the ID Hap
Plant is veronicastrum.
Taken in August

Painted Lady Butterfly, Taken in August.
Plant is liatris.

Red Banana

Dwarf & Semi-Drawf Banana's
This is a time line of the window box over the summer. It has done really well this year, I think it is because the window box was upgraded to a wide, deep one so it has even moisture.




* next post will be the pickle & relish recipes followed by the wish list, things learnt and potato layout.