Today's harvest

Garden update – lots of preserving going on here

The produce is really rolling in now! I have been doing lots of preserving.  Here are some things I picked from the garden today.  Almost half a peck of ground cherries, tons of sweet peppers and oodles of tomatoes.  That stray okra pod was lying helpless on the ground.  I have 6 half pints of ground cherries in the freezer already and 6 pints of sweet pepper slices.

Today's harvest

Having two ginormous gardens, apparently, wasn’t enough though, so I went and bought a half bushel of peaches.  I canned 5 quarts of them in light syrup, made peach jam – 3 pints and 5 half pints – and froze some of the rest (what we didn’t snack on).  That same day I canned 6 pints of zucchini pickles and 5 pints of pickled peppers, banana rings and cherry hots.  I was beat at the end of that day, phew!

day's worth of canningBrainstorming is in the works for this guy.  I am thinking sliced, breaded and pan fried.

This eggplant is ready to eatAnd a vegetable oddity.  Every year it happens.  We always get some kind of mutated homegrown tasty.  They are tasty a plenty, every time, but a photo must be taken for documentation of the odd.  Here is this years best yet.  A double zucchini.

siamese squashDubbed the “Siamese squash” by a friend of mine.  I am off to preserve more of the garden’s bounty…on today’s to do list:

Pickled peppers – cherry hots

Candied jalapenos

Dried ground cherries

Frozen sweet and hot peppers

typical dinner harvest

Garden update – Canning and preserving has begun!


Wow, once again this week got away from me!  I have been so busy canning and preserving the garden bounty that I have been neglectful in posting.  Today’s garden update includes a lot of canning and food preservation.

On my way out to the garden I saw this Rose of Sharon in full bloom and swarmed with bees.

hibiscus blooming and buzzing with bees

Cherry tomatoes are slowly ripening daily…cherry tomatoes are ripening daily

and the peppers

cherry hot peppers turning red

are going crazy.

banana peppers are growing like crazy

Here is what I picked one day to make cucumber pickles and pickled hot peppers.

first canning harvestHubs was in charge of most of the harvest through the week and though he better not pick too much.  That is how a zucchini will get away from you fast.  This is possibly the world’s largest zucchini.  For scale, those are 4″ wide deck boards, so she’s about 20″ long.  This got shredded in the food processor and jarred up for the freezer.

worlds largest zucchiniWe are typically picking something like this each day for dinner.  Stuffed banana peppers and a cucumber, pepper salad sprinkled with cherry tomatoes as our side dishes and maybe some grilled zucchini too.

typical dinner harvest

The little tomatoes are just starting to come in and we are waiting patiently for this guy to turn red.

waiting for red on this tomato

Then there is the remote garden.  More zucchini, tons more cukes, peppers and almost a half bushel of green beans.

remote garden harvest

Also some exciting things are happening at the remote garden.

yellow transparent apple

The Yellow Transparent early apples are ready.  We had major fruit drop on this tree, so there are only a few.  The deer and rabbit ate well though.  Baby pumpkins are developing nicely.

Baby pumpkin...awww

I froze 18 pints of green beans so far.  I’m just starting to freeze some peppers for winter use.  Pickled 8 pints of cucumbers and 6 pints of hot peppers.  I have also made dandelion jelly, strawberry, gooseberry and raspberry jam 3 or 4 pints of each, depending on the recipe.  Here is a grouping of some of these items here.

first canning batch 2015

A great farm kid August lunch.

farm kid august lunch

Peanut butter and gooseberry jam sandwich, cherry tomatoes and the first handful of husk cherries.  Yummy.



Ikea Hemsmak Collection

I was planning on a completely different topic, but the I got an interesting email from Ikea.  I just opened a new email from Ikea featuring the Hemsmak collection.  How much am I loving this collection?  I try to avoid using plastic for food preparation and storage at all costs.
Here is what Ikea says on their site:
HEMSMAK collection –limited edition
The HEMSMAK limited edition collection celebrates the world of pickling and preserving. It consists of lots and lots of jars, tins, buckets, carafes and bottles that can be filled with all your favorites. Labels and tags in different shapes and sizes, designed by Reykjavík Letterpress, will help you keep track of all your delicacies as well as making your projects more fun. For a few summer weeks you will be able to find all of this under one roof.
I have to leave the country and drive an hour to shop at Ikea, so, sadly, I don’t think I will get the chance to try any of the Ikea Hemsmak Collection items out, but here is what I am loving and why:
The labels.
This collection has some really cool features like these awesome tags.   They are really cute and practical.  The last set works like a perpetual calendar and allows you to just quickly circle the date.  There are even coordinating tags and string for gift packaging.
The bottles.
I love the assorted colors.  Even without the labels, you can color code the contents of the bottles.  Everyone in the family will know which iced tea or juice is where once you establish a coded system.  These are also an attractive way to serve beverages at a party.
ikea-hemsmak-carafe-with-stopper-assorted-color-set ikea-hemsmak-bottle-with-stopper-assorted-colorsIkea-hemsmak-carafe-with-stopper-assorted-colors
The funnel.
I already have a stainless steal funnel like this and it is awesome.  I am glad to see it a such a mass retailer and at a fair price.  Anyone who uses canning jars for food should have one of these.  It has a nice wide opening and fits inside the jar nicely, keeping things really tidy.
Easy to wash. Easy to see the contents.  No worries of chemical leaching or staining.  Yes glass is breakable, but really, it does not break that often even around my house.  And it is something that you can actually leave on the counter or place on the shelf and enjoy the way it looks.
Ikea-hemsmak-jar-with-lid__0373946_PE552386_S4More craftable.
Is that a word? The jars are nice and smooth, without any logos or labels.  This make a nice canvas for vinyl die cuts, stickers and paint designs.
Now, I do have a couple of questions and concerns.
  • It is not very clear as to weather or not these jars can be subjected to extreme temperatures that occur in freezing and canning.  The website says “The jar has an airtight seal, which makes it perfect for preserving…”, but there are no instructions so it is hard to know for sure what level of preserving they are referring to.
  • Also they are available for a limited time, then they are gone.  I would definitely take a standard mason jar lid and/ or rubber ring with me to the store and try to ascertain if there is any compatibility.  I am not saying that is a deal breaker, but best to know what you are getting going in to the situation and plan your use of the jars and bottles accordingly.
  • Why the limited time?  Are they testing the waters for future longer term or year round roll out?  These items can and should be used year round.  With a stronger seasonal emphasis.  I use my Ball canning jars all year for food storage, gift giving and freezer meals.
I have looked for more in depth information, but can’t find any. I was sure there was a blogger out there that would have beaten me to the punch, but I am not seeing the information.  I will keep an eye out for thoughts and pine away for a trip to my Ikea store.