Monday, September 21, 2009

Autumnal preserves and thoughts...

I always feel rich when I open my canning cupboard and see the bounty of the harvest and the work of my hands. We'll never grow bored this winter with a nice variety like this on hand.

Here's what's on the shelves:
Top Row: Colorado Peaches and Apple Sauce
Middle Row: Grape Juice, Crabapple Juice, and Chokecherry Juice, the red is Tomatoes and then more Apple Sauce.
Bottom Row: Lots of Apple Butter, more Peaches, and Chokecherry syrup

The grape juice is sweetened but you must strain off the grapes first to drink it. The other juices are unsweetened. I like to can them and use them later when I want to make crabapple jelly or chokecherry jelly. Today I'll add my homemade salsa to the cupboard. The recipe I tried this year was from Mennonite Girls Can Cook. Click here if you'd like to try it.

Nearly every day now there's another something to preserve from the garden or a gift of apples received from a friend. My tomatoes are in full blush and after picking a fruit box full, there are still more on the vine at various stages of ripeness awaiting their turn to be picked and processed into salsa or plain ol' canned tomatoes. I eat as many fresh tomatoes as is humanly possible, but beings I'm the only one in the house who likes tomatoes, a girl can only eat as much as a girl can eat. The rest go into mason jars for soups and stews.

A couple weeks back a dear friend of mine came out with seven 5-gallon buckets of apples from her dad's tree. For several years we have canned apple sauce and apple butter together. She brings the apples, I supply the sugar and the kitchen, and we both share the jars between us. We have a large assortment that go from her house to mine and back again. It works. This year we were only able to can 45 quarts of apple sauce and butter in a day's time. She left me with one bucket of apples and she took home the rest. I've been slowly dipping into the bucket for just enough apples for a pie or an apple crisp. Last night I made apple crisp for dessert and I swear, I ate half of it! With whipped cream! It was that good. Then what did I do today? Polished off the last two pieces. I did ask Hubs if he wanted any and he said no so I didn't try to persuade him any. I'll make another crisp when the Sons are home for the weekend.

I still don't have quite enough cucumbers for my sweet pickle relish. I'm thinking my dad might have a bucket or so that he would share. His cukes did remarkable well this year while mine just barely have gotten started. I might take some of my zucchini and fill in for some of the cukes in the recipe. They work just fine for relish too.

It is definitely feeling like autumn here now. Today we didn't even reach 60 degrees for a high. The wind howled all day long as the leaves were swept off the trees. I noticed on the drive to town this afternoon that the Boxelder Trees along the River are turning a gorgeous yellow and orange. Every kind of bird is flocking together now and I just know that one morning I'll wake up and not hear the meadowlark that I've grown accustomed to hearing each day. The blackbirds will take their rock band to another location and the geese and ducks will fly over in V's honking their last good byes. Every season has its own beauty and nostalgia in the Northland. Good-bye, Sweet Summer. Hello, Crisp Autumn!

The Last Word of a Bluebird
As told to a child

As I went out a Crow
In a low voice said, "Oh,
I was looking for you.
How do you do?
I just came to tell you
To tell Lesley (will you?)
That her little Bluebird
Wanted me to bring word
That the north wind last night
That made the stars bright
And made ice on the trough
Almost made him cough
His tail feathers off.
He just had to fly!
But he sent her Good-by,
And said to be good,
And wear her red hood,
And look for the skunk tracks
In the snow with an ax-
And do everything!
And perhaps in the spring
He would come back and sing.

~Robert Frost


  1. Jody,

    You're canning cupboard looks beautiful--colorful and useful. LK is having the joy of filling her larder with canning jars full of lovely fruits and veggies (some she never ever even liked before!).

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. That photo of your loaded shelves is one of the prettiest pictures a homemaker could see!

  3. Wow -- you've been hard at work this fall -- your preserves look beautiful! It's still warm here, but we're supposed to cool off a bit next week -- fall is definitely in the air!

  4. What a beautiful sight! You are indeed very rich....and I am trying not to be jealous especially about your tomotoes.

  5. My goodness, you are a very busy girl. There is such a happiness in a full pantry xoxox Clarice

  6. O so good to find another canner....
    beautiful cupboards and makes you feel good ,doesn't it .. Just looking at all that good food & knowing if the weather gets bad our cupboards aren't empty..
    Now can you take a picture of your
    Boxelder Trees and post it. I have never seen one nor ever heard of them.

  7. Plain Ol Vanilla,
    Thanks for the kind compliments on my canning cupboard. The natural colors of foods really are beautiful, aren't they?

    Yes, I've been plugging along with my canning, a little at a time. Hoping you'll have some nice cool-ish fall days.

    I'm really excited about the tomatoes. As I said, the years prior to this one haven't been so productive.

    STorybook Woods,
    Happiness IS a full pantry!

    Yes, it makes me feel very good about heading into winter with a full cupboard of varied canned goods. I'll try to take a pic of the Boxelders next time I go to town.


  8. Oh, your canned goods look so pretty all lined up in the cupboard! It's always so exciting to take a step back and look at it. :)

  9. Sweet Home Livin',

    By the looks of your blog, you've been a busy, busy bee this fall too. Stepping back and appreciating your work is a "good thing" to do, I think.


  10. Oh, I wish I knew how to preserve! Well, I'm scared to, to be honest, because I'm just the sort of person who would get it wrong and poison my entire family with botulism. But when I look at your pictures, I think how satisfying it would be to have a pantry full of preserves to last us the winter.


  11. Ooh, pretty!! It's like the Proverbs 31 woman meets Beatrix Potter! What's the bright pink, chokeberry?

  12. What a lovely looking pantry - I have strawberry jam, frozen berries and 20 jars of mustard pickles - but I am planning some more. It's a must in our household.

    Mmm apple crisp - I think it's my favourite dessert. Our apples aren't quite ripe yet. A week or two and we'll be picking.

  13. Left-handed Housewife,
    You really ought not be afraid to preserve things. Homemakers have been doing it for centuries. You can too! I recommend the Ball Blue Canning book for starters.

    The bright pink is chokecherry juice. It's got no sugar so it's very bright and pretty. When it's cooked down with sugar, it's a deep burgundy color.

    Island Sparrow,
    Your pantry sounds full of good things too! I have corn in my freezer too. Mustard pickles sound really good.



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