This is a re-post from a previous year.
There are piles of laundry dumped in random places around my house, my husband’s brown bag lunches are strange combinations of leftovers found lurking in the fridge, my kids are eating Pirate’s Booty on a daily basis, and I have been staying up way too late with way too much produce. This can only mean one thing: Canning Season is here.
I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. The produce is so abundant in September. Then I start ordering and picking and freezing and canning produce, and I can’t stop. Restraint is not in my vocabulary. Like most things in life, I go all-or-nothing, turning food preservation into some sort of ultra-endurance event.
So, as much as I sometimes hate the long nights and early mornings and endless parade of produce across my kitchen counter, for the most part I just feel crazy blessed to live in this part of the country where so many great farmers and fields are right around the corner. Seriously, what’s not to love about that?
Italian Prunes… or are they Plums?
I just ordered 60 pounds of prunes. We will eat some fresh and dry the rest using a food dehydrator. To dry, I just cut them in half, pop them open, toss the pit, fan out each half (see picture), and lay on the drying racks. Dried prunes (or plums, if you prefer) are so stinking sweet; we eat them like candy. Once they are dry, I just drop them into bags and store them in the freezer.
I think I might also make this recipe next week.
I currently have 550 pounds of tomatoes sitting out in my garage. This is the fourth year I have placed such a large order and split it five ways. Combining orders is a great way to get a discount; the produce markets I called were happy to give me a price cut (To the tune of .25 off per pound. That adds up fast!).
The guys loading the boxes into my van were laughing at me (This happens every year, too), “Ok, I’ve got to know, what in the world do you do with 26 boxes of tomatoes?!” My children, strapped into their carseats and surrounded by boxes of ripe tomatoes just take it all in stride. Apparently, crazy mommy to others is normal mommy to them.
So, here is what I plan to do with 26 boxes of tomatoes:
- Can Whole Tomatoes (use for bases in soups, stews, sauces, etc.) and Salsa
- Roasted Marinara Sauce (I use this for spaghetti, lasagna, pizza sauce, or a salsa base. The steps are simple, and the flavor is amazing.)
My friend Shelly asked if I wanted to pick peaches last Friday. I was packing for a beach camping trip, but her offer was too good to refuse. We picked peaches in the morning, and my little family hit the road that afternoon. When we walked back through the door on Sunday night our entire house smelled like sweet peaches. That’s way better than the oops-I-forgot-to-take-out-the-trash-before-we-left smell of years past.
On Monday night, I canned 21 quarts, using the Cold Pack Method (Step-by-Step Guide).
This afternoon I’m planning to make a Brown-Sugar Peach Pie with Coconut Streusel (Cooking Light). This is my favorite peach pie recipe. It only needs a single crust so it comes together quickly and easily. So good.
Check out our Recipe Index for some other great seasonal options. Peach season will start winding down soon. If you are planning to can or freeze peaches, make sure you look for freestone varieties, which just means the pit will separate easily from the fruit.
I stocked my chest freezer with Freezer Applesauce from Transparent Apples (early variety) and my shelves with Canned Applesauce (Step-by-Step Guide) from Gravenstein Apples (season is just wrapping up). Apple season will really kick into full swing over the next two months so you will have plenty of time to either freeze or can some applesauce.
We have also been eating loads of fresh corn, basil, potatoes, zucchini, onions, and cucumbers from the garden. Have I mentioned I love this time of year?
What’s happening in your garden or home this month?
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My hubby and I had the disagreement/discussion on Prunes or Plums. I grew up picking Italian Prunes as a kid. He said they were Plums. I looked it up. Prunes are just a type of Plum. The big difference is that they have a free stone. Meaning just pop that pit out. I love them. Miss them. 2 Neighbors have a tree each, but they pruned them way back. Wish i could find more.
My cherry tomatoes are going crazy, better than I’ve ever grown before, so I’m having trouble eating them all before they go bad on the plants. I was so excited to see the recipe for roasting the whole cherry tomatoes for the sauce. I tried it this weekend; it was so easy and was WONDERFUL!!! Even my husband, who doesn’t like tomatoes, wanted to eat it with a spoon. I had to use dried Basil, but did have some fresh mint leaves to add. None made it in to the freezer.
kathy m says
My pears this year are huge making pear butter, apple butter, relish sweet apple cider butter, it’s good to see others canning been doing it 20 odd years now
Wow, and I was proud of canning pickled garlic, blueberry jam, and yesterday, we made 7 pints of pickles. Was my hubbys idea, so I enlist his help
I love Italian prunes but they seem not as well known here. In Germany, they are called “Zwetschgen” and my cousin makes them into the most delicious cake, like a tart or coffee cake. She’d serve leftovers for breakfast with a bit of whipped cream on the side. I gotta get me a plane ticket to the old country! She gave me her recipe and I’ve tried to make it over the years, but never duplicated its taste completely. Thanks for the picture and the inspiration.
Kari Patterson says
This is such a great post! I do not know how you manage to get all that work done AND write! 🙂 Also, this year I discovered an easy-freeze method for peaches. Drop them WHOLE (no washing, no peeling, no pitting) into a freezer bag. To use them, take out and run under water–the skin will slip right off. Let sit for a few minutes until the iciness thaws, then slice like you would a fresh peach. They are SO delicious, easy to use for baking, and no browning or sugar. Thanks, Emily, for all this great info!
These kind of posts are my favorite. I’m a crazy canning lady, too. So addictive and gratifying!
oops, lol by cocktails I mean like fruit cocktails canned for the kids
120 lbs of plums off the back tree in our yard. AHHH piles of laudry glad I am not the only one. I made plum chutney, plum sauce is on the stove as we speak and we are making a still this weekend plum spirits anyone 🙂 on yeah, I did last of the pears, fresh pineapple from the store and plum cocktails and freezer plum orange jam
Where did you pick the peaches? Does anyone know of anywhere in the Portland metro area where they are still picking peaches? Preferably east side? Thanks!
We picked at Kelso Farms in Boring. I would just check out pickyourown.org and start calling around. I know Elbertas and other canning peaches are still available; I saw beautiful boxes of them at Grower’s Outlet in Portland this week.
When I was growing up my Mom was wonderful at canning and drying produce. One of my favorites is canned Italian prune plums. They are so simple and taste great. She also would can prune sauce and dry lots of them. Sadly, my arthritis made me quit canning several years ago. I sure miss the good home-canned produce!
For all you mothers, don’t forget to involve the whole family – I may not have liked helping at the time (because I just wanted to go play), but I am so thankful for the experience and we really did have some good family times as we all worked together!!!
Marcia Mullins says
JM Have you tried taking fish oil for arthritis? I started taking it 5 years ago and can do a lot of things that were just getting too hard to do because of the pain and stiffness. Not as good as I once was but better than 5 years ago.
oops read the post for canning whole tomato’s and it answered the price and pounds question but still curious how long it takes you to get through all of that. It’s 18lbs of tomato’s per canning pot, so that’s 7 pots. So do you do it all in 1 day?
I can with other people and by myself, as the tomatoes ripen and we have time. We usually rotate pans of marinara sauce through the oven as we are canning jars on top of the oven. It works great, especially with several people, to process lots of tomatoes at one time. That being said, it usually takes us at least 2 long canning sessions to finish everything.
So what was your final tomato price per pound? (Will they give you the .25 cents off/lb on top of a sale price? And how many tomato related jars does that produce. How long does it take to roast, can, dry all the tomato’s?
I just bought a house and found out I have not 1 but 2 Itallian Prune tree’s. I got so lucky with that. They’ve been amazing in everything I’ve used them for so far.
I freeze Italian prunes without drying them. They are absolutely amazing in smoothies!
I bet! That’s a great idea.
The cookbook, Rustic Fruit Desserts, by local authors Cory Schreiber & Julie Richardson, is also a great resource for recipes using fresh and frozen fruits, including stone fruits like plums.
Kari Patterson says
ottojacobson–Do you just pit them and freeze them or do you have to remove the skin? I have tons of italian plums but no dehydrator and was just wondering how to preserve them! Emily, this post is amazing–thank you so much!
Who do you contact to order large amounts of produce at a cheap price? I’m not sure where to go.
http://www.pickyourown.org or http://www.localharvest.org are great sites for searching by region!