I’m awash in produce this week- tomatoes and apples and peppers of every size and color and heat. SO far I’ve canned 92 quarts of tomatoes and 11 pints of salsa and enough pickles that there will probably leftovers a year from now. There’s a heap of tomatoes on the counter that will be ripe enough to make more salsa on Thursday– hopefully that will use most of the hot peppers too.

We got about five bushels of apples this year, I think. A far cry from the dozen or so bushels last year, and yet more than enough to overload my fridge and leave me wondering where I’ll put them all. Today I managed to squeeze in half an hour between homeschooling and taking the kids swimming to sort the apples.

Probably 2/3 of the apples were perfect or nearly so. I used those to stuff two drawers in the fridge, layered more with newspaper in two boxes in the pantry, and left the rest in a laundry basket in the corner of the kitchen. I told the kids they could get an apple whenever they wanted one, as long as they eat what they take and don’t leave cores on the floor. I am curious how long it will take them to eat a whole basketfull. I suspect maybe 10 days….they’re really nice Jonagold apples, and our kids all like fruit.

I’ll be making applesauce or canning spiced apple-rings with the apples that are a dinged up or bird-nibbled. I was tearingly busy all day– too busy to do sauce. But after supper I sat in the living room for awhile and peeled and trimmed some of the apples that needed to be used soonest. Now as I write I am listening to the applesauce simmer….and am hoping I can find space in the fridge for the sauce once it is done. Our fridge is so full!

Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to the grapes. Weve been eating lots of Red Flames in the past couple weeks, but now the Concords are getting ripe. I plan to make grape jelly with those, lots of it this year, since last year we ran out way too early and it was a big hit. I just don’t know when. We already took one day off this week to process vegetables. Home Ec, our piano teacher said I should call it. But still, I don’t want to miss too much school….

It is a little overwhelming to be looking at all the work involved in caring for this food, but I am very grateful to have it. A few weeks ago we spent two mornings filling one shelf in the freezer with sweet corn. We’d also been eating corn 4 days a week for a couple weeks. At that point I kind of got tired of dealing with corn, and so we left the remaining corn on the stalks in the garden.

Thankfully this year we have a cow, so nothing is going to waste. We’ve been bringing him a dozen or so corn stalks every day, and he eats them down to almost nothing. I have been loving having a cow….every day the children bring him scraps from canning and processing– tomatoe tops and carrot tops and apple cores and tough cabbage leaves. I love the feeling that nothing is wasted.

However I am deliberately NOT looking that cow in the eyes very often. Attachment is not a good thing when it comes to beef cows.

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  1. aspecialfamily says:

    OH NO!!! Don’t say that about the cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    here I was thinking, how lovely they have a pet cow!!! lol

    Well done on all those veggies and fruit!

  2. Just dont name the cow! If you are planing to eat it!!

    I went to a friends house and we started eating and they said how was the meal? I answered that it was Nice thanks!
    then they told me I was eating Molly!

  3. As Mike in Monsters, Inc. said, “Once you name it, you get attached to it!”
    Praise God for full fridges!
    Mary would you mind sharing your applesauce recipe? I’m just getting into this canning thing, and would like an applesauce recipe that I know is tried and true.
    I remember how much I enjoyed your similar posts about canning last year! Wasn’t September the month you did the 30 Days of Nothing?

  4. I forget where you live, but here (TN) we have “fall break” like spring break . We still get spring break too. Anyway, I think that is the kind of thing that makes it important; Harvest season.

    I, too, enjoy giving the kids free rein when we have excess fruits. They love it and it’s good for them!

  5. Mary,
    Without getting into too much detail of course, but what part of the country do you live??? You’ve grown some things I’ve only dreamed of growing and I’m wondering what type of climate is good for growing grapes and apples and pears, etc……..
    I have to admit, I’m a little jealous….. 🙂
    And the cow!!! I’m a huge animal lover, can you post pictures??????? Then we can all get attached and beg you not to ‘you know what.’ 🙂

  6. Oh, Mary – not looking the cow in the eye – too funny!

    All that produce sounds so yummy! And really, if you spent another day doing food stuff, you wouldn’t be skipping school; you’d be teaching them stuff they can’t learn in books! Think of all the measuring (math), science, and reading (surely you have a recipe or two you’d be implementing) you’d be doing, not to mention the fact that you’d be teaching some really important life skills! 😉

    Chinamama4 – we make applesauce lots this time of year! I simply peel and core the apples, throw them all in a pot, put about one inch of water in the bottom of the pot, and let simmer partially covered (with the lid just sort of propped on the edge of the pot) for however long I have, stirring occasionally. If the apples aren’t juicy, you might have to add a bit of water to keep it all from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The longer it simmers, the finer the applesauce is. You can add cinnamon while cooking, if you want.

  7. All I can say is …wow. I thought doing a dozen jars of tomatos and 15 of salsa was a lot, but you put me to shame! How do you make applesauce…that is something I would love learning. We go threw a ton of it.

  8. You have most likely heard this before, but here is how we make sauce when we are overwhelmed with apples.

    I fill the sink so I can wash them really well (we use drops) and disinfect them. Then I cut them in half and throw them into my biggest pot with just a smidgen of water. Cook until soft, then run everything through the food mill. This produces a pretty colored sauce and there is very little wasted. Then we can it to enjoy all year. Sometimes we add sugar or cinnamon to taste and I must say, people rave about our sauce. I don’t know if I could manage if I had to peel and core them first!


  9. Wow! All your canning has inspired me! I canned relish (an old family recipe for Million Dollar Relish) and pears this year for the first time. Before that I had only made jam by myself (after lessons from my MIL) and pizza sauce with my MIL’s help.

    You are right about the cow, attachment is a bad thing. I grew up in the country where my friends would raise cows for 4-H, and well, you know what happens. One was so bold as to name theirs Hamburger, another just went for the simple Dinner. Oh the realities of the country life and the sometimes warped sense of humor!

  10. please oh please, if you do eventually slaughter that sweet lovely eating machine of a cow please don’t blog about it. you can’t make it a milk cow huh?

  11. I do my sauce just like learningpatience, with the addition of a cup of sugar.

    As far as the cow, he is nameless. We thought of naming him Kitfo, which is the name of an Ethiopia raw beef recipe. But that name didn’t stick.


  12. But I thought you were all about attachment!? Don’t think I could do it. That’s just where my Little House on the Prairie fantasies break down…

    Busy, blessed woman you are.

  13. I use the same applesauce recipe as Kerry: just clean, chop (and remove bruises, etc) and toss in the pot skins and cores and all. I add about 1/2″ of water and/or maybe some apple vinegar if they’re too sweet. Sometimes we’ll toss in a handful of chopped rhubarb or some quartered plums or a whole bag of red hot cinnamon candies and then let it simmer for an hour or more. We run it through a food mill and then can or freeze.

    Last year we also made apple butter. Wow it was good! We added a ton of sugar and spices to the plain applesauce and then spread it out in a 4-5″ layer in a big roasting pan and then roasted it for 3-4 hours, stirring it every hour or so. It gets all dark and carmelized and reduces down to about 1/3 the volume and is thick like jam. It’s great on toasts or bagels, as a PB & AB sandwich, stirred into some oatmeal with some raisins, you name it!

  14. I’ve been canning what I can from my little suburban garden, and it feels so good to be able to go to my pantry or freezer and crack open something I made. I’ve got a handful of new canning recipes I’m looking forward to trying, too — Julie, I am going to add your Apple butter to my list! It sounds delicious…

  15. How about Sir Loin or Hamburger? I’m just ripping of names that my sibs in law used for their meat goats.

    School in the old days had days and weeks off for harvest time, why shouldn’t yours?

  16. what’s your recipe for applesauce????

  17. Oh boy, I so love to read the things going on in your life. A few years ago my hubby and I canned peaches, something my mother used to do. I loved it, but needless to say, I don’t grow my own and my children don’t tend to love them, so for 35.00 a bushel it was not something we did this year. There are a few apple orchards near us, I might have to see what the going price is for apples right now. I could do applesauce, I have my mothers recipe, it had red hots in it instead of cinnamon. Very tasty and the kids always loved it as babies, so I bet they would like it now. Thanks for getting me thinking of it! 🙂 Enjoy all of that produce!

  18. Wow, what a load. We got quiet a few good apples also. I told the kids we could make a couple of pies tonight and maybe some applesauce.

    I totally agree about not looking the cow in the eyes. I’m tender hearted too!

  19. expectingamiracle says:

    Those apples look delicious!

  20. Apple orchards & gardens… those are two things I miss about living up north. We’re in Florida. The trade-off is that we have wonderful citrus from November – April.

    When I saw that you had a cow, I thought, “All these wonderful veggies and FRESH MILK, too!” Then, I read a little further. Have you ever thought of alpacas? You can name those! And make sweaters! ;o)

  21. Yeah, I’m with Carrien as far as the school in the old days thing goes. My kids are still so young, but we still take a ton of time to do stuff in the garden. And it’s school! Science, hands on stuff that I wish I learned. They’ll be glad for the memories and the experience.

    Maybe you should get a dairy cow, as well. I love to see all your produce, it looks amazing. Reaping for your efforts! So wonderful.

  22. You are such a hard worker. I read this and it makes me think that our remodel wasn’t so bad. My mouth waters thinking about all the yummy food coming from your garden and orchards. Mmm mm good. Maybe next year I’ll actually get a garden planted. Enjoy the food 🙂

  23. We went apple picking at an orchard about 45 minutes from where we live and Snuggle Bug had such a fun time picking apples straight from the tree. He munched on a couple along the way too.

    I hope you find good uses for all your apples. I plan to make some apple butter out of some of ours. 🙂

  24. I’ve never met a homeschooling family that doesn’t say at some point during the year that they are ahead of the curriculum they are using. Maybe that is true for your family, maybe not. But don’t be too quick to discount the fact that you are teaching alot through canning/ etc. And this is really valuable family language experience for the newer ones. Its how language is learned well…