Monday, July 14, 2008

Our work is never done

The last several days have been absolutely packed! We had a friend in town from Wednesday to Saturday. I was very excited to have our very first guest who stayed the night in our library / guest room. Jeremy also took the opportunity to take us both on a little tour of Minneapolis. We were biking on the days when it was 90 degrees plus and super humid. Ugh. But it was still a lot of fun.

Our friend, Ashley, brought us 20 pounds of Washington cherries. We had to call around a lot of places to find them and secured the box just days before Ashley's departure. As soon as we got home from the airport we set to work removing pits and freezing some of the cherries. After a really long walk and a stop for drinks and dessert, we came home and made a batch of cherry jam.

That worked out nicely so we made another batch the next day. We had hoped to make two but realized we were out of pectin and the store had closed at 9:00. That's right - we were making jam after 9:00 pm.

Lest you all get the idea that preserving and canning is fun and games, well... Actually, it is kind of fun, but it is also a lot of work. And, as Jeremy has been known to say: the vegetables/fruit don't wait. You have to take care of them in a certain amount of time - or they end up in the compost bin.

The truth is - we're obsessed with food. I feel like we spend 75% or more of our time in the kitchen.

For example, take today. In the morning I harvested our crop of swiss chard, curly scotch kale, and dinosaur kale. I cut off the stems and stuck them all in the fridge for later. I also put some black eyed peas on to soak. I had dinner ready for Jeremy when he came home just after six. He brought a bunch of raspberries home hoping I could make some muffins. After dinner we put the water on to boil so we could process the chard and kale for freezing. I cut up an onion and some more chard and kale so Jeremy could make some green soup. Jeremy put the peas on to cook and I started making muffins - stopping every couple minutes to help with the freezing of the greens.

Right now, at 8:30, the greens are frozen, the peas and green soup are cooked and ready for lunch tomorrow, and an incredible batch of raspberry muffins has just come out of the oven. Whew!

It's incredible that we are running three or four burners at a time and the oven when it's 85 degrees out and humid as anything. That's what a lot of our preserving season has been like so far - hot and sweaty and hot. And hot - did I say that?

Oh boy - Jeremy just picked a quart of pole beans from the garden. We've got to figure out what to do with those!


richelle said...

Apparently I spoke too soon about you not being up to your ears in preserves!

Some fruits have enough natural pectin to set on their own, if you cook them long enough. Others will set if you mix in some apple chunks, because the apples have plenty of pectin. I tried this with blackberries two years ago and it worked really well. Too well, actually, because if you cook it too long, it gets too set. My jam was extra sticky, but it tasted good!

Aimee said...

Yeah, your comment in your blog made me realize I'd better post a bit more about what we've been up to!

I did read recently that underripe fruit had pectin in it and my mom used to make her own pectin with apples. We're trying to go low-sugar (only 1 tsp per 1/2 pint) so we've been using a certain brand of pectin that works well with low sugar recipes. I don't know how much of this is hype and you can use whatever you like. Haven't done enough research yet!

Anonymous said...

And this is why back in the Midwest they had "summer" kitchens - kept the heat out of the house.