Filling the Pantry

Cool evenings and crisp mornings…there are hints of fall colors starting.  The change of seasons is becoming more evident with each passing day.

We’ve been working in the garden to clean out summer crops passed their prime while planting crops for over-wintering.  Crops in the works include: lettuces, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, scallions, kales, collards, and even crazy things like cauliflower (may be too late but worth a try).

In the meantime, the last summer harvests have been processed in order to savor the tastes later on.  It is a bit of work, but there is a feeling of satisfaction when the pantry gets full.


The results of a few weeks of canning.

Soon, I’ll get some beets and garlic pickled and restock our supply of hot pepper jelly.

What are you filling your pantry with?  Do you have a favorite canning recipe?

Rainy weekend tasks

The weather is the top talk of the town these days…from extremely dry to record breaking rains…it has been a season of extremes, making many gardening tasks rather difficult to even consider.

For the past rainy weekend, social activities were cancelled due to rain and the to-do list was refocused to indoor activities. I posted some time ago a recipe for canning sweet pepper relish. A customer and friend supplied me with this recipe, and with bell and hot peppers still producing, Saturday was a perfect day for revisiting this relish.



With every available color bell pepper and a few hot ones for good measure, this relish makes a colorful and fun alternative to your run-of-the-mill pickle relish common to the backyard hot dog. Easy to make, this recipe is definitely a great rainy day canning project to tackle.

Have a peck of peppers you don’t know what to do with? Consider making this relish.

Do you have a favorite bell pepper canning recipe to share?

Hot Pepper Jelly

What to do on a rainy, dreary day?

Why, some canning, of course!

It was a good weekend to get in the kitchen and start preserving some of the remaining summer fruits. Saturday was a day for making hot pepper jelly. Today was devoted to pickling pepperocini peppers. Still in waiting are oodles more jalapeños (more jelly and some pickling), more pepperocinis, some Hungarian hot waxes (thinking of drying these), serranos and habaneros that I will probably dry, too.

Prepping peppers for jelly

Prepping peppers for jelly

Lesson learned...I wear gloves

Lesson learned…I wear gloves

Stirring in the pectin

Stirring in the pectin

The recipe calls for the option of adding food coloring, but the peppers confer a natural, lovely green color to the jelly. Food coloring? Pshaw. Au natural is nicer.

What’s your favorite way to preserve hot peppers?

Jam – my first experience making it

Mom and dad have some grape vines growing along their driveway on a fence that separates a part of the parking area from their neighbor’s yard. It was a spur of the minute location as the grapes needed to go SOMEWHERE during a backyard makeover. Those poor grape vines have been moved multiple times. One final move will be out here to the farm.

The good news is that the vines have survived their many moves, and this year, they actually seemed to like their temporary location. How so? Well, for the first time in MANY years there was a harvest.

So now what? Well, I was able to sell a few of these organically grown grapes at the Blacksburg market. The rest went towards jam.

Organic grape jam

Organic grape jam

Thanks to mom and Marge who helped with the process Sunday. The recipe came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and involved separating the pulp from the skins (where the color eventually comes from), separating the seeds from the pulp (which was a pale green color), a little boiling and reduction, some recombining of pulp and skins with lemon juice and sugar, a little more boiling then canning. The result? A stunningly gorgeous concord grape jam which gelled nicely and has substance (i.e. I like having the skins added back to the pulp).

Taste testing

Taste testing

Who knew that grape jam (or a PB&J) could be so good? Now I wish we had more grapes to harvest…three pints just doesn’t seem like enough!

Have you ever made jam? What’s your favorite flavor?

Future fruits for us are pears and persimmons (October for both). Have any ideas what to do with these guys?