Tuesday, September 23, 2008

September 23, 2008 Otha Day and Oh no....canning....

I woke up this morning, walked into the kitchen, poured a cup of black coffee, and glanced at the very red tomatoes sitting on the kitchen window sill. We grow tomatoes every year. Most years we get one or two, due to a faulty raised garden I'll tell you about some other time. However this year, with the new garden, the tomatoes, even though mostly neglected have grown to an enormous size and are producing show quality tomatoes. Ironically, nobody in our house, except Dan, likes them. So we bring them in, put them in the window sill until they start turning brown, and I put them in the compost bin. I vowed today would be different and armed myself with my cookbook on the way out the door. As fearful as I am of becoming addicted to canning, I'm even more saddened by our wasteful ways.
Today we planned to see Otha Day http://www.drumtothebeat.com/otha-dayat Heritage Gardens. Buzz and the girls met us there and Dan had a great time hanging out with Seneca. Otha is a one man band, amazingly patient, and extremely talented. He arrived with more then 10 big drums, 8 tambourines, and lots of Moroccas. He encourage the kids to make lots of noise and taught us some fun songs.
Afterward we decided to take a trip down to the outlet mall to see if we could figure out what canning was all about. The lady manning the Corning Ware store was very helpful and within 10 minutes I had a new pot with a canning rack, an assortment of canning utensils and some canning jars. I had no idea what to do with my newly acquired assortment of kitchen ware but felt certain that in a pinch I could call Kristin and she'd steer me in the right direction. Next stop was the grocery store because I hadn't spent enough money to save any yet. We picked up some spices, onions and garlic for the spaghetti sauce, and while there I optimistically grabbed a box of pectin. On my run last Friday I came around the corner to the fire road and smelled one of my favorite smells. For just a couple of weeks a year this one area is fragrant with the smell of ripe grapes. I run faster thinking of the smell that I'll be rewarded with more quickly for a little extra effort. So I thought that this afternoon the kids and I would take a walk down there to see if there were any left. There were nearly two cups and I thought it was surely enough to make at least one jar of jelly. We arrived home, quickly switched laundry on and off the. It didn't take me long to make the sauce. I read the recipe to late to omit the skins and seeds but I'll remember next time. The sauce cooked down for 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile I sterilized the jars, lids, and rings. Once the sauce was ready I extracted the hot jars from their bath, filled them, covered them, secured the metal ring and put them in the canning pot on top of the rack filled with water. A few minutes later 4 jars were filled and in the pot. I covered the pot, and set it to boil for 35 minutes. While those worked their magic I started working on the grapes. Dan mashed them, I added water and boiled them for 10 minutes, strained the liquid and put the juice back in the pan, with some sugar and pectin and boiled it for the instructed 1 more minute, before filling the jar and immersing it into the hot water bath. The sauce had only moments before been removed from said bath and as Dan opened the kitchen door the jars one by one made the desired popping noise letting me know that a least for now they were properly sealed. They sit now on a cutting board on my kitchen table, cooling for the night. I'm curious to see if the great tasting grape soup will be jelly by morning.

I rescued this guy from Emily's bedroom. I believe he's a spotted tussock moth.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

congrats!! it's a great thing that popping noise, huh? apparently if you use wild grapes, you have to use liquid pectin or it won't set. as long as the jars sealed, the "jelly" is still good and you can try to re-set it with the liquid pectin. good luck!!