Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekend Canning Round-up: Tomato Sauce, Zucchini Relish and Bread & Butter Pickles

Nine weeks out from my knee surgery, I am up and about almost back to normal in time for autumn canning season.  Tomatoes, basil, squash, apples, ground cherries, quince, persimmons - I just need to lay my hands on some lemons!

STOCK:  I made my best batch of stock yet, using the bag of veggie scraps I store in the freezer, along with the beet green stems from 3 bunches of white beets, stems from a bunch of radishes, and the seeds & skins of the tomato sauce making.  I even threw in the seeds & stems from a couple jalapenos used in salsa - giving the 2 gallons of stock a bit of zing but it's so rich and flavorful that I am going to use it to make some udon noodles this week. 

My newest favorite trick for making stock:  throw in a 1/4 cup of dried porcini mushrooms.

Tomatoes have suffered the worst of this chilly growing season -- as a result, nobody has tremendous backyard tomato production.  Even local farmers are finding the fruits are coming late and small.  I had been banking on picking 200# of tomatoes at Mariquita's "U-Pick" weekends this fall - the 150# I picked last fall didn't get me through the spring.  However, Julia said that they might not have a U-Pick event this fall (my fingers are still crossed, okay?). 

I bit the bullet and bought two 12# box of Early Girl tomatoes for $29 each.  I made up a big batch of marinara.  My friend Serafine helped me process the first batch of cooked tomatoes - we used the food mill attachment for the Kitchen Aid.  I think she was impressed by how easy it was to make sauce - she had seen cooking shows where they pour hot water on tomatoes to skin them and then cut out the seeds.  That's a PITA, IMO. 

Two weeks later, I bought two more 12# boxes of tomatoes last Thursday.  I spent all day cooking down the sauce - even pulled out 4 quarts of sauce from the first batch out of the freezer.  I ended up with a mere 9 quart jars of sauce, plus about 2 quarts that went into dinner each weekend - that's just under $10/jar to make my own sauce.  I guess I could go to Berkeley Bowl and buy sauce cheaper - but it doesn't taste at all the same.  After spending $120 on tomatoes (which is more than I spent last year for 150# at 50 cents/pound) - I think I am going to hold out and wait for tomato season to perk up so I can do the U-Pick event.

I didn't use all of the tomatoes for sauce - I also used some in a black quinoa tabouli, and made a quart of killer salsa (which goes great with carrot-flax crackers).  I still have a few in the fridge because those Early Girls are good eating!

14 qts tomato sauce
1 qt salsa

Last Thursday I also got 20# of Pippin apples ($11 for 10#) from Mariquita - which I made into applesauce & dried apple rings.   The apples were mostly fairly large, a bright green and super crisp and delicious.  I saved about 8 of them for eating, put about 7# into the dehydrator and turned the rest into applesauce.

12 16 oz jars of applesauce
4 8 oz jars of applesauce

Despite the problems my tomato plants are having in the garden - my squash are doing great.  The cocozelle is still going nuts with three vines that are about a total of 22' in length.  The yellow sunburst squash is more compact and still producing several a week.  The Rond de Nice - which I transplanted to a mini raised bed - has just showed signs that it is going to take off and be the rockstar of autumn.  The fourth zucchini plant that I bought - perished after it was sat upon at my "bon voyage" party on 7/9 - it limped along but transplanting it to another pot just resulted in speeding up the death.

I've been collecting squash all week - the small squash went into zucchini bread & butter pickles, the large squash went into the cuisinart to be shredded for zucchini relish.  I also saved the carrot pulp from the juicer to put into the relish - it made it a really pretty color.

12 8oz jars of zucchini relish
3  4 oz jars of zucchini relish
4 16 oz jars of zucchini bread & butter pickles
2 12 oz jars of zucchini bread & butter pickles
2 8 oz jars of zucchini bread & butter pickles

I'm collecting lots of ground cherries - mostly they are ripe but some are not.  I am experimenting with ways to ripen the green cherries - and have put them cleaned on a tray in the kitchen in the sun.  They might go into a bag soon.

Coming up - a trip to Larissa's house to check on the quince & persimmon trees!

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