Tuesday, August 13, 2013

my weekend to do list drifted into monday

I started out with ambitious outdoor goals for the weekend and did manage to accomplish a few of the things on my list.  I spent a good part of Saturday finishing the mowing of the yard.  At this point it is all mowed and has started in regrowing. 

The raspberry row

On Sunday I gave the raspberry transplants some attention.  They were sprawling in both directions which kept me from being able to mow close to the row.  I didn't take a before picture but here is an after.

I added another wire at the top of the wood end posts and added a fiberglass post in the center to help support the middle of the wire.  Then I tied all of the canes that were sprawling to the new wire.  The raspberries have thorns so I have pincushion hands.  I have so many volunteer raspberry plants that could be transplanted so I am giving some consideration to adding some to the cornfield perhaps dividing the front half from the back half. 

The orchard

Since it was mowed I could move the hoses back and I watered the fruit trees in the orchard.  I had trimmed up the suckers on the one plum tree.  It still needs a little work with a chainsaw as the lopper was not able to get all of the branches but it is looking better.  The east apple tree still needs a bigger circle around it. 

While I was moving the hose from tree to tree I worked on weeding along the white fence and then watered that.  I got about half of it done so it will look kind of silly until I get the rest done.

The grapes

The earliest grapes were ready for harvesting.  A few of the earliest ones had been eaten by birds and a few of the latter ones were not fully blue yet but I learned my lesson last year that if I wait too long the birds don't leave any for me.  Although I love the look of my grape arbor it does not make for easy picking now that the vines are getting bigger and I have not been diligent about pruning them.  There were quite a few grapes that could only be reached with a ladder from the top.
There are four vines on the arbor. This one is the oldest of the vines and it has a small purple grape.  Here you can see several bunches of the grapes.

And this bunch is on a 6 inch appetizer plate along side of a teaspoon to give an idea of the size of the bunches.

Here is a shot of my big silver bowl with the grape harvest from the one vine.
The sun has kind of washed out the color in this picture.  After washing and plucking the grapes from the stems there was five pounds of grapes which is just the right amount for one batch of jelly!

Making Jelly

Last time I made jelly i made a freezer jelly.  You prepare the fruit as juice and then mix it with sugar and pectin and put it in the freezer.  This year I decided to try a packet of sure jell for less sugar recipes.  This recipe is a cooked type of jelly and is put into jars for storage on the shelf instead of frozen. 
This is the washed grapes that have been removed from the stems.  A potato masher was used to crusth the grapes and then water is added and they are brought to a boil and then the heat is reduces and then they are simmered.  After simmering they juice is strained to remove the seeds and peelings.

 Then the strained juice which has been mixed with a little bit of sugar and the pectin is brought to a boil and the once boiling the remaining sugar is added and it is cooked for one minute once it returns to a boil.  The foam is skimmed off.
The clean jars are held in hot water.
The jelly is ladled into the hot jars.  A funnel is used to keep the mess to a minimum but it is still messy.  Or maybe that is just me.
Then the tops of the jars are wiped clean.
And a lid is applied.
Once the screw band is applied the jars are tipped upside down for five minutes to help with the sealing process.  My box directions said that they could be tipped over to seal or water bath canned.  I decided to to tip them and if they didn't seal then water bath can them but all of mine sealed.
The little bit of extra that didn't fit in the jars is cooling more quickly than the jars and seems to be thickening up nicely as it cools.  Hopefully that means that the jarred jelly will be nice and thick as well.

The cucumber pickles

I am starting to get cucumbers in my cornfield garden and I had this small bowl of random cucumbers.  They were different sizes and different varieties.  I had found this recipe for a copy cat of a Klaussen dill that was a refrigerator pickle.  No canning needed.  I was missing a couple of the spices called for in the recipe but they still turned out good.
These cukes are washed and cut into wedges and then a brine is poured over them and they go into the refrigerator. 

The summer squash pickles

I also have been getting  quite a few zucchini and yellow squash so I decided to try making pickles of these as well.  The recipe i used is for a canned pickle but i decided to do it as a refrigerator pickle.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time doing the canning only to open a jar down the road and find out that it was not a great pickle.  If we like them I will make more and can them so that they keep longer.  If we don't like them i will keep looking at recipes.

These zucchini and yellow squashes are cut into slices along with some onion and then placed in a bowl with salt and water to cover.
After they have soaked they are drained and a brine is poured over them.  This brine is apple cider vinegar and sugar and spices. 
I like the combination of yellow and green on the pickles.  I like the taste and if the rest of the family does as well it will be a good way to use surplus summer squashes.
And lastly some pictures that Caitlin took a few days ago with some produce that we picked from our garden.

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