Archive for Canning

Fall in Kansas

Fall is a wonderful colorful season. Below is a beautiful description of fall in Kansas.

 

October 1979

 

A Report on Fall

 

In the southwest sky the sun glows red and the drowsy air is satiated with the incessant chorus of the locust. The fields of milo are sculpted in bronze and copper heads reaching in stately ranks toward the blue arc of the heavens. Nearby, the soft violet of an alfalfa plot is slashed to pale green by each round of the swather.

 

Out by a weatherbeaten shed an ancient apple tree is weighed down with a crop of Red Delicious. The apples that were wormy, bird pecked, half rotted, or windfalls are all made into applesauce and resting safely in the freezer.

 

Pheasants with their half grown young run across the road to a brushy shelter to escape the wheels of a passing car. Knowing at first hand what man and a gun can do to their delicate bodies, doves are wary of all movement.

 

Sunflowers bloom extravagantly in any available spot. Where the soil is moist, smartweed grows luxuriantly, putting out great feathery clusters of dainty pale lavender plumes. The goldenrod is thick along the roads wherever it has escaped man’s effort to tidy up the countryside with a mower.

 

Toward dusk a moth hovers over the petunia bed sticking its long proboscis into each bloom and sucking out the nectar. A few bees are flying about gathering honey. The usual brisk Kansas wind is a gentle zephyr as it blows over the ripening land.

 

Overhead, momentarily, is the roar of an airplane and in the distance is the continual drone of tractors. The wheat fields are worked and fertilized awaiting the magical moment when each farmer knows in his bones that it is time to plant. The black walnuts are hanging thick on the trees along Emma Creek with the early drop offs being carried down stream by the current or laying water soaked in a quiet inlet.

 

In the garden the last planting of sweet corn is finished. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers can still be found, but the vines are shop worn and seedy looking. Tomato plants have escaped their trellis and wire cages and sprawling every which way, but with fruit still ripening in abundance.

 

The fall planting of green beans is ready to be picked. The radishes planted in August have been pulled and September planting is coming in. The turnips and beets have grown good globes, one white and one red according to the imprinted message of their seeds.

 

Queen of the late garden is the okra – a plant growing over five feet tall that can – oh, blessed thought – be picked with the pickee in an upright position. It has an olive green five pointed leaf growing from a main stalk that is about one or two inches thick. This soft green stem is streaked and splotched with dark red coloring. The flower is conical shaped before opening to five creamy yellow petals with a maroon base. Inside is a stamen ending in a blood red bulb divided into seven small velvety cushions. Okra is prolific. A small patch will produce enough pods each day for a large family. It is almost a miracle – the more you gather the more there is the next day.

 

In sorting out the images of fall I find the one sure portent is the daily passing of the school buses as they rumble by picking up and delivering children, that most precious asset of any farm, to school and bringing them back home in the late afternoon.

 

Bread and Butter Pickles

 

12 medium cucumbers

3 teaspoons celery seed

8 onions

¼ cup white mustard seed

4 green peppers

1 ½ teaspoons turmeric

1 medium cauliflower

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

¾ cup cooking salt

1 teaspoon ginger powder

6 ½ quarts water

 

Sauce:

7 cups sugar

¼ teaspoon mace

6 cups vinegar

Few dashes red pepper

 

Slice pickles, onions, peppers, cauliflower and soak in salt water over night. Boil syrup with ½ quart of water. Boil three minutes. Add vegetables and boil 20 minutes or until clear. Seal.

 

Apple Cake

 

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon soda

¼ cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

5 large apples, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup white flour

½ cup raisins or nuts

 

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and apples. Sift dry ingredients. Add to first mixture. Add raisins or nuts. Pour into greased 8 x 8 inch pan. Bake at 350° F for 35 minutes. Allow cake to cool.

 

Sauce

 

½ cup water

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

½ teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons sugar

 

Put first 4 ingredients in a pan. Cook until thick. Add vanilla. Spread over top of cake. Serve warm or cold

 

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Pickles and Relishes

Last week was about jams and jellies. This week pickles, relishes, and sauces.

September 22, 1988

Do you remember when you came home from school in the fall and the kitchen was filled with nice spicy vinegary smells and jars of relish were cooling on the table? Mom had worked all day chopping the vegetables and fruit by hand or grinding them in a hand powered grinder.

It’s a lot easier now with food processors and electric grinders to put up the last of summer abundance for winter tables. In days gone by no Sunday dinner was complete without at least three dishes of pickled vegetables or fruit on the table. No longer do we need such a generous display but a carefully chosen relish still enlivens any winter meal.

Piccalilli

12 1/2 pounds green tomatoes

12 green peppers

12 red sweet peppers

12 large onions

1 medium head of cabbage

3 tablespoons salt

3 cups vinegar

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons mustard seed

1 teaspoon turmeric

Grind the first five ingredients. Mix with the salt. Let sit overnight in a non- metallic container. Drain. Cover with water and drain again. Mix with the rest of ingredients. Boil 20 minutes. Pour into previously sterilized pint jars. Process 20 minutes in a hot water bath. Seal jars.

English Chutney

1 pound apples, chopped

3/4 pound raisins, chopped

12 ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 red sweet peppers, chopped

3 large onions, chopped

1 tablespoon mustard seed

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups brown sugar

4 cups vinegar

Mix all the ingredients. Cook slowly until thick, about 30 minutes in a hot water bath. Remove and tighten lids.

Tomato Sauce

5 pounds tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon chopped green peppers

2 tablespoons finely chopped carrots

2 tablespoons finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon oregano

1 bay leaf

Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel tomatoes. Cut into chunks. Heat the oil in a heavy kettle and saute the onions and garlic. Stir in the green peppers, carrots, celery and tomatoes. Add parsley, oregano, bay leaf and pepper. Bring to a boil. Uncover and simmer 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally until thickened. Remove the bay leaf. This is important. Pour into containers and freeze. Makes 2 pints.

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Jams and Jellies

I’ve been busy canning lately. This article from September 1987 provides a nice introduction to jams and jellies with some great recipes at the end.

September 10, 1987

The season for making jams, jellies and preserves out of the last fresh fruit is upon us. There is a special delight in cooking and canning a sweet spread that will be eaten on a light biscuit or roll some cold winter evening.

A fine line separates jellies, jams, preserves, conserves, marmalades and butters from each other.

Jellies are made from fruit juice squeezed from the fruit, which is usually cooked first. It is a clear or translucent jel.

Jams are purees made from fruit; they are thick, but not as firm as jellies.

Preserves are made from a single kind of fruit which is usually left whole; conserves are made with fresh fruits and dried fruit or nuts, or both; and marmalades are made most often from one or more kinds of citrus fruits.

Fruit butters are pureed fruit cooked down until they form a very thick paste. They usually have sugar and spices added and have a smooth texture.

Some fruits have enough natural pectin to make jelly and jam if they are cooked to the jelling point. Included in this group of fruit are tart apples and crabapples, blackberries, Concord grapes, lemons, oranges, Damson plums, quinces and raspberries.

For most jelly and jam making a commercial powdered pectin is added along with sugar to insure a satisfactory finished product.

Orange Carrot Marmalade

3 oranges

1 lemon

4 1/2 cups water

3 cups grated carrot

4 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Slice oranges and lemon in thin slices and cut into quarters. Add water and allow to stand overnight. Heat to boiling and add carrots and boil 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and ginger and continue boiling to jelly stage.

Seal in sterilized jars and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Watermelon Rind Preserves

Select melons with thick rinds. Peel off all the green portion. Cut into small pieces. Soak in salt water overnight (1/2 cup salt to 1 gallon water). Drain and rinse. Cook in clear water for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

For 11 cups of the melon rind. Make a syrup of 9 cups of sugar, 8 cups of water, 4 sliced lemons and add 1 or 2 sticks of cinnamon. Boil the syrup, lemon, and spices 5 minutes before adding the rinds. Add rinds and cook until transparent and clear.

Remove cinnamon stick. Allow to stand overnight. Lift melon chunks from syrup and place in sterilized jars. Heat syrup to boiling and pour over the rinds. Seal. Process in water bath for 15 minutes.

Peach Jam

4 cups crushed peaches

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 package powdered pectin

5 cups sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a large kettle. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute and continue stirring.

Remove from heat and continue stirring for 5 more minutes. Remove scum. Pour into hot sterilized jars. Seal. Process in hot water bath for 20 minutes. Makes three pints.

Pear Honey Jam

3 pounds pears

1 cup crushed pineapple

1 lemon

5 cups sugar

Wash, peel, core and quarter pears. Grind pears and the whole lemon through a food chopper, using a fine blade. Add pineapple and sugar. Cook slowly, stirring frequently until mixture thickens.

Pour into sterilized jars. Seal. Process in hot water bath for 20 minutes. Makes three pints

Plum Conserve

3 pounds Damson plums, sliced

3 cups of sugar

1 lemon, quartered and sliced thin

1 pound raisins

1 orange sliced thin and quartered

1 cup nuts, chopped

1 cup water

Cook plums, sugar, lemon, raisins and orange with the water until thick and clear. Add nuts. Pour into hot sterilized jars. Seal. Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. Makes four pints.

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