Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumn Harvest

The arrival of autumn always makes me a little nostalgic for summer, but there are things I love about it, too. The crisp morning air, the fall colour—which we get a taste of, even here in the Pacific Northwest—but most of all I love fall produce. Apples are ripening on the trees, pumpkin patches are bright orange, and the farmers’ markets are brimming with cabbages and corn.

This year my daughter and I decided to try our hand at canning tomatoes. Those are the only things I buy in cans—everything else we eat is fresh and made from scratch—but as a two-time cancer survivor I’m becoming increasingly concerned about the carcinogenic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) found in the lining of almost all food cans.

So last weekend I purchased 35 pounds of tomatoes from a local organic farmer, borrowed my neighbor’s canning pot, bought two dozen jars with lids and rings, and looked up “how to can tomatoes” on the Internet. The printable PDF file on this site is easy to follow and includes great illustrations.

On Sunday afternoon my daughter and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work. The job turned out to be a lot less work and a lot more fun than we expected. Three hours later we were admiring the fruits of our labor—sixteen quarts of tomatoes, chemical free and no salt added.

The only thing we couldn’t figure out was why on earth we weren’t doing this years ago.

Do you have a fall favorite? What about canning tips? Please share!

Until next time,
Lee
The Christmas Secret
November 1, 2011
www.leemckenzie.com

14 comments:

lnda s said...

Hi Lee, looking forward to your new book. Love the look of your jars of tomatoes. Now I only can crabapples and green pear chutney. My fall fav has to be Jona Gold apples. we can only get them in the fall.

Lee McKenzie said...

Hi, Linda! Mmmm...your green pear chutney sounds delicious. I haven't had crabapples in years. The house I lived in as a child had a crabapple tree in the yard and my mother used to can them. Not sure I've tried Jona Gold apples - I'll look for them next time I'm in the grocery store!

Rachel said...

Your post is perfectly timed, Lee!

I've just come back from my allotment garden with a couple of pounds of green and yellow beans, a whole bagful of chard and kale, and some gorgeous little beets.

I won't be canning them, though. They'll be going straight into the next few dinners

Ros said...

Lee, your tomatoes look gorgeous. I, too, don't like the BPA used in cans. I'm too lazy and admittedly paranoid to can (fears of the jars exploding or contracting botulism...) So last year I picked up 20 lbs of tomatoes from a local farm and froze them. Some I cooked first in my slow cooker and some I just took the stem out and froze whole. When they thaw, the skin slips right off. You don't get quite the same volume from freezing, but it's super easy. I had enough to last my husband and I until late spring. I've done the same thing again this year. You can also cook the tomatoes with some onion, garlic and herbs, freeze, and then have a quick tomato sauce for pasta in winter. I also read you can freeze corn without blanching--leave a layer of leaves on, freeze whole, and boil, frozen, for 10 minutes. I'll let you know who that works out. ;-)

Kate said...

Lee,
Your canned tomatoes look good gorgeous. I moved this year and don't have a garden. You can bet I'm missing my tomatoes! Kudos to you of rolling up your sleeves and trying something new.
Kate Kelly

Lee McKenzie said...

Rachel, what time is dinner? ;)

Lee McKenzie said...

Ros, thanks for the tip about freezing corn! In the past I've frozen tomatoes but we no longer have a freezer, other than the one in fridge and there's no room in it.

Lee McKenzie said...

Kate, thanks for dropping by!

Everyone, Kate Kelly's debut Superromance, A Deliberate Father, will be out on Nov. 29. Be sure to check it out!

Laura Langston said...

How satisfying it must feel to see those jars lined up! I used to can a lot - most years I have a big veggie garden - but I've been too busy these last few years. Like Ros, I've taken to freezing my tomatoes, with great success. But should I ever lose that option, it'll be back to canning.

Jodie said...

I love your photos Lee. And how wonderful that your daughter was around to work with you in the kitchen. Those are great moments for sure.

Savannah Rose said...

I grew up in the South with a GrannyMaw who spent her early fall days doing nothing but canning. We'd have tomatoes, soup, pickles, relishes, jellies, and an assortment of vegetables such as squash, green beans, butter beans, and pintos. Unfortunately I never did learn the art of canning. And to this day, I wished I had. Now that I know the directions off the Internet are useful, who knows, I just might have to learn and teach my grandchildren. Special memories of my GrannyMaw and the garden. Thanks for helping me remember.

Lee McKenzie said...

Laura, I envy your big garden. I find I just don't have the time, but next year I plan to grow my own tomatoes in containers.

Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks, Jodie! It was fun to share this my daughter.

Lee McKenzie said...

Savannah, thank you so much for sharing your memories of your GrannyMaw. I have many warm and happy memories of my Grandma in the kitchen. She canned all sorts of things, including the wild blueberries she picked, and her blueberry pie was legendary.