And that was last week’s madness, all those jars of sauce. I ended up with eleven quarts of spaghetti sauce with meat and eleven quarts of marinara.
And after that, I stopped. For a while. I felt exhausted from it all – the obsessive NEED to can every bit of produce in sight. So I did other things…like work, take care of my family, do laundry…
And then, once I’d had a bit of relative rest, the urge began to creep back…
I will blame the tomatillos.
(Side note: I took a break from typing just a few minutes ago to wash some of the bowls and pots in the sink from last night, and I was thinking – or wondering – just how much canning do I really NEED to do? How much food should I have “put up” for the winter, or the year, or whatever. And then I thought, well, I’ll keep going nuts through the end of this month…because then I’ll need to do all the cookie baking for Christmas anyway, and there’s only room for one kind of madness at a time…and all that was followed by the slightly kidding but not entirely thought: I can stop any time I want to. Um…okay.)
Anyway, back to blaming the tomatillos…
These are some of the purple ones. As you can see, they’re not all entirely purple, and in fact some are barely purple at all. I pick them when they release easily from the branch, though I know if I let them stay on longer, they’d grow more purpley. And some fall off. And some are taken before their time by overenthusiastic tomatillo-pickers who are both taller and shorter than I am.
So here they are.
We also had lots of green ones – still do – but I didn’t take a picture of them.
I’d frozen some of our earlier tomatillo harvests, but the freezers have become crowded so I decided I should make salsa now. There are still more tomatillos, both green and purple, out in the garden. I’ll deal with them later. This weekend, I’m canning what I’ve got.
So because we grew these purple tomatillos, I decided I’d make two separate salsas – the regular green one I’ve made before, and one with purple tomatillos and white tomatoes. I thought that one would be gorgeous.
So last night I prepped everything for the purple salsa:
So that’s five cups of purple tomatillos (chopped via the food processor), white vinegar and lemon juice, six cups of white tomatoes AND some of the palest green tomatillos to get me to that six cups, and then in the back bowl there are onions, jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, salt, coriander, and cumin.
Look at this pretty purple puree:
I’m not even a big fan of the color purple – I leave that to Julia – but in food? I love it. Purple cabbage, purple onions, purple tomatillos. So striking against the usual greens!
So I combined everything and cooked it for the requisite amount of time and ended up canning eight pints of this salsa.
Now, a while back in an earlier post featuring the purple tomatillo, someone asked in the comments section if the tomatillos would stay purple when cooked or would they turn gray.
I didn’t know, but now I do.
Sadly, the purple fades.
They look just like the green tomatillo salsa. I think. I’m making that today, so maybe there will be a slight difference.
I had hoped.
Oh well. It tastes good, and that’s the important thing. Really it is.
And I can always make a fresh salsa with the next round of purple tomatillos, and we’ll just eat it that way. One of those things that can’t be preserved and must be appreciated and enjoyed in the moment.
So that was that.
I also canned 7 quarts of beef stock last night, and am right this very minute (7:00am on the nose) canning another 3 quarts – I didn’t have time last night.
In addition, I’ve got a double batch of baked beans slow cooking in the oven. My plan is to save some of them for part of tonight’s dinner, and – you guessed it! – can the rest. I’m particularly excited about that – this will be my first foray into canning solid food.
NO – wait, that’s not true! At some point during the summer I canned clams.
But still. Canned, homemade baked beans! I’m very excited.
My favorite part of making baked beans? Besides the eating, I mean…the foam!
I pretty much follow Bill’s mom’s recipe, or at least the basic procedure. After soaking the beans overnight, I drain them, put them in a pot, add fresh water and a little baking soda. I assumed the soda helped soften the beans, but I’ve read that it also helps eliminate the gas-producing qualities. In this house, I’ll take all the help I can get with THAT.
Anyway, I bring the beans/soda/water mixture to a boil and then cook them until the skins peel away from the beans when you blow on them. And I skim the foam off as it bubbles up.
But sometimes first I take pictures.
It’s like a science experiment!
And if I’m distracted – like I usually am – the water will boil and the foam will rise and spill right over the pot. Onto the stove. And then I have to clean it up.
I didn’t take a picture of that.
Once the beans were ready, I drained and rinsed them and set them aside while I cooked some of the trimmings from our most recent batch of bacon…
Bill had thoughtfully diced them before he froze them. Thanks, Bill!
Once they were browning a bit, I added some water, Dijon, salt and pepper, molasses, brown sugar, and a couple of peeled, halved onions.
And the beans. And a smidge more water.
Then I covered the pot, put it in the oven (250 degrees F), and I’ll take a look at them around noon or so. Maybe a bit earlier. I’ll also drop the temperature down a bit in another hour or so. I just want the pot to be nice and warm.
So now, to recap, I’ve got jars of beef stock in the canner, baked beans baking in the oven, and my next move is to put together the green tomatillo salsa and can that once the beef stock is finished.
And I’m going to be roasting two chickens later today. For dinner tonight and sandwiches and other concoctions through the week.
And the bones – of course – will be for more stock.
Because it’s still October, and I can still can.
But I can stop any time I want.
I was going to end this post there, but I can’t seem to stop ANYTHING right now, so I will go on typing.
I think part of my canning mania – or cannia – okay, Jayne, stop right there with THAT nonsense – comes from my increased familiarity and comfort level with the pressure canner. It’s rather scary, with all the heavy duty locking mechanisms and the loud sputtering noise it makes as the jars are processing…and what if I did something wrong, what if the jars explode inside the canner?
I’ve kind of passed that early stage of worry, and now it’s just about as no-big-deal to me as boiling water bath canning or cooking something or deep frying or whatever.
I’m comfortable. My pressure canner and I are friends now, not strangers trying to be polite despite a high level of distrust (on my part).
So that’s where I am.
What are you up to today?