Friday, November 11, 2011

Apple Rings

I ordered an apple peeler / corer / slicer from amazon. It got here Tuesday, but I haven't had a chance to test it out until today.

It's awesome. You stick an apple on the little fork thing and turn the crank and out comes apple peel strings, a core, and perfectly sliced apple rings. It took me less than an hour to fill the whole dehydrator, which fit somewhere between 25 and 30 apples (I forgot to count them). An hour includes the time it took me to dig the dehydrator out of the cabinet, wash everything, and get everything set up.

I've got a billion apple rings dehydrating right now. I'm very excited.

The dehydrator was a wedding present from a friend of my dad's. This is the first time we've used it, although it was one of the first wedding gifts we got.

Friday, November 4, 2011

And then there were apples.

I started with two of these three boxes of apples. 

Last time I canned applesauce, it involved peeling and coring all the apples. Peeling that many apples is a pain in the ass, so I tried to avoid that this year. I decided that if I cored them and then ran them through my Vitamix blender, I would be able to not peel them. I don't peel apples that I put into smoothies, so it seemed like a reasonable idea. I blended about half the apples, then brought the sauce to boiling. I had slightly over 7 quarts. It tastes pretty darn good!

Here's the results from canning today!

Tomato Canning Exploits

Today, I'm canning tomatoes and (hopefully) applesauce. I may also be finishing up applesauce tomorrow.

I started off the day by making a batch of roasted tomato sauce. This is going to get frozen rather than canned. I couldn't find a roasted tomato sauce recipe for canning in a water bath. The recipes I found that addressed this said it was a bad idea because of the olive oil in the recipe. Frozen is fine. I have a silicon baking thing for tiny cakes where each hole holds about 8oz of liquid. This is a fabulous size for single-serve soups and such. We have frozen chicken veggie soup, lentil soup, and some spaghetti sauce (made with our CSA and all my garden tomatoes) already in the freezer. We like tomato sauce on spaghetti squash... in fact, that's probably what we're having for dinner tonight, since we have a large spaghetti squash sitting around.

Here's the tomatoes, onions, and carrots after roasting for an hour. Mmmmm....

I blended everything up and boiled it for about an hour to thicken it up. 
It looks and smells extremely tasty.

Next up is herbed seasoned tomatoes. My tomatoes are ginormous, so I quartered them rather than halving them and it seems to have worked out pretty well. These are awesome to throw in any recipes that call for canned tomatoes. Apparently canned tomatoes leach BPA from the lining of the can. I feel safer using my home-canned tomatoes.

This is what they look like once they're canned. 
They've got basil, oregano, thyme, sage, and garlic powder in the jars.

I canned 12 pints and then ran out of pint jars. I decided not to do any quarts of whole / quartered tomatoes because I don't think we make many recipes that use a quart of tomatoes at once.

I also did a big batch of plain tomato sauce. This is just a base that I can use for making more interesting spaghetti sauce later on. I ran the rest of the tomatoes through my Vitamix blender in batches so I wouldn't have to take the skins off or remove the seeds. This is what I started with (it's about 10 quarts of liquified tomatoes). The pot is next to a 2 cup measuring cup for scale.

I boiled the sauce down to about 6 quarts. Here's what it looked like at the end:

I ended up with 6 quarts of plain sauce.

On to the apples!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Canning!

It's been a busy term. Not much crafting has gone on and not much WILL go on until it's over (mid December). Luckily that gives me a week or two to get some Christmas crafting done.

I did score on produce today thanks to a friend who emailed me a coupon for the Pumpkin Patch (out on Sauvie Island, for those of you who are local). Right now, almost all their produce is on sale and then is an additional 20% off. We also had a 10% off total purchase coupon. They close for the season on Sunday, so if anyone is interested in heading out there, let me know and I'll email you the 10% off coupon.

Apples were $0.69 / pound. I got about 50 pounds and B, who came with me, got another 25. We're going to can applesauce (for me) and apple butter (for her). I'm excited as I used up my last jar of applesauce a few weeks ago. This will also give me a chance to try out the new wedding-gift dehydrator, which will be awesome.

I also got two 20 pound boxes of tomatoes (tomatoes in November? What a weird year...) for $15 a box. It's a bit more expensive than what I paid for tomatoes last time I canned them ($0.49 / pound), but those were pick-your-own and it was a much better year for tomatoes. We used up all our canned tomatoes pretty quickly and I haven't been able to do more because the last two seasons have been pretty crappy for tomatoes. These tomatoes don't look supreme, but they're definitely good enough to make some stewed tomatoes and some sauce.

All the candy was buy one, get one free, so I bought a few. Halloween gummi worms or chocolate peanut clusters, anyone?

The goal is to start canning tomatoes tomorrow and continue on Friday, and to get the apples canned Friday and Saturday. It'll be busy, but hopefully worth it. I may head back out and get more apples on Saturday depending on how things are going. Apples will keep for a little while, so I could dehydrate and can a few more next week. Tomatoes have to be processed ASAP.