Not as early a start as I wanted with all there is still to do but I woke up to a kitchen full of dirty dishes from yesterday’s escapades!
First up: nectarine butter
I’m going to make use of my big crock pot for this first recipe, and have it steam away while I work on chopping and bagging the nectarines that remain, for freezing.
If you missed Day 2′s postscript, it turns out there’s another box of nectarines laying in wait. I’m alternately thrilled and horrified by this — I love these sweet little orbs (and so does my Finn, who ate more than a few yesterday!) but by the end of this extravaganza I might not want to see another one for a while. Oh wait, I’ll have plenty of time to get over it when I tackle the peaches, pears, apples and tomatoes! Okay, enough time wasting, here I go.
Having a holy sh*t moment, spurred on by my husband rounding the corner and saying “You better do something with these tomatoes…”. Turns out they are more ready than I thought. And so are the nectarines, and peaches. Thank God the apples and pears are hard.
As I am chopping and bagging and vacuum sealing nectarines for freezing, I’m listening to the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean. He’s just finished a piece on Stephen Leacock and shared some trivia I didn’t know – Leacock coined the phrase “madly off in all directions”, and it’s particularly apt right now because I realize this is my approach to canning! I like that. I bet Leacock would appreciate some nectarine butter.
The nectarines are finished! Whew. Well, sort of anyway – I have bagged all of the remaining fresh ones and the nectarine butter is still simmering in the crock pot. It smells heavenly, and I realize I am nowhere near being sick of them yet. That would take a lot!
My husband, spurred on by my success with the apple peel jelly (which was delicious slathered on buttered toast for breakfast this morning), asks, “Anything you can make with the pits?” (Uh, probably not a good idea, babe.)
Best thing that has happened to me today? I commented on The Vinyl Cafe’s Facebook page, and they wrote back to me!! How cool is that?! I’m going to send them a collection of preserves when I am finished.
Next up: tackling the tomatoes!
I thought I’d make a roasted garlic tomato sauce that I did last year, and while I might, I have rethought my strategy. We don’t buy conventional, HFCS-laden ketchup in this house, but we do drop the big bucks on gourmet ketchup. Which may or may not still have HFCS! So, my tomato exploits are going to include tomato jam, tomato butter and ketchup!
**I’m working on the ketchup (or “catch-cup” as Finn is calling it), as I post this so check back for updates in the process as well as the recipe, and for the nectarine butter recipe later on or tomorrow.**
The key word for this evening’s canning activities is patience. The ketchup is simmering, the nectarine butter is simmering, and I am chopping tomatoes for tomato jam, which has to, you guessed it, simmer. It was a hot day – I simmered. Now it’s cooled down significantly and I am enjoying the work.
It’s almost an hour later and the ketchup is still simmering. WTF? It’s reducing but not thickening. Wondering if I added too much cider vinegar, but I think I added less than the recipe called for. At this rate, 10lbs of tomatoes is going to be reduced to one pint of ketchup. Not very economical!
My husband is here to provide comic relief. I called him into the kitchen, lamenting the ketchup volume reducing to about 1/4 (or less) of what I started with. I said, “I’m only going to get one or two jars out of this.” He replied, “One or two jars? Honey, more like a packet.”
FINALLY going to do some canning! The nectarine butter is done and it’s delicious…whew! The ketchup is done and it’s…simmered down to almost nothing. The tomato jam is still thickening up. Let’s do this, I want to go to bed!
The nectarine butter is in the canner and I am sitting here stunned about the ketchup! Folks, if you get nothing else from this post, at least take this away: don’t try this at home. It’s really not worth it! I was going to share my recipe but I’m not even going to bother because I don’t think you should make it!
Day tally of injuries to self and others:
burns: a few on my arms
blisters: 1 (on my right index finger from chopping)
bad words: too many to count
Tomorrow: Delish writing day! Evening canning: Tomatoes or peaches
I’ll share the nectarine butter recipe then!
Live like you mean it,