Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Preserving the Harvest

This was a great year for fruit in the Pacific Northwest, we had beautiful weather for almost 3 months from the middle of July through the middle of October, there was sunshine almost everyday.  We all walked around eating from the fruit trees in our orchard and the berry bushes in the garden for months.  The 4 Italian Plums were just loaded with delicious fruit, we ate them fresh, kept the dehydrator going nonstop, gave some to neighbors, made, jam, preserves, plum brandy, plum butter, and froze a couple gallons for pie making later.  I love having the problem of too much fruit, then you can have fun with all the different ways to preserve it.  Every time my husband went to town I was asking him to buy another case of jars and low sugar pectin.

Many days were spent right here over the stove creating our winter preserves.

Italian Plums are sweet and tart and when preserved they turn a beautiful dark, ruby red, I made 65 pints of plum preserves, and a half dozen quarts of plums in a light syrup, plus I made a half dozen pints of plum juice.  The preserves are delicious on bread, yogurt, with fresh chevre' or straight out of the jar, I made them all with a low sugar pectin.  

Our Honeycrisp apple tree took off this year, we planted it 5 years ago and this year got about 170 of the best apples we have ever eaten.  Last year it produced 7 apples.  What do I attribute the difference to?  Well, besides maturing for another year, in mid March we applied a thick layer of compost around most of the fruit trees, I think feeding the soil is the key to helping fruit trees be disease resistant, this year I am going to spread compost on all the trees.  I don't can apples, we mostly eat them fresh and cut them up to put on oatmeal and hot cereals.
I have a pantry in the corner of my kitchen, plus I now have a new pantry off our kitchen that is my cold room, I keep preserves, apples, pumpkin's, squashes, nuts, and I have storage for bigger kitchen items.  It's still a work in progress but I have a vision to fill all my shelves with home made canned soups, more pickled goods, I'm working on pickled beets and carrots this weekend, and I still have a couple more boxes of pears to set out at room temperature to ripen and can.   I had most of the pears given to me from my manager where I work, she has a 50 year old pear tree in her back yard and I've had almost as many pears to process as plums, these were our two big harvests to preserve this year.  Over the Summer and early Fall I also made rhubarb jam, raspberry, gooseberry, red current, crabapple, mirabella plum, and another unknown kind of plum.  Preserves are a wonderful homemade gift as well as to simply enjoy through the long winter ahead. 


Mich Heywood said...

Your lucky to have a good crop of tree fruit, sadly this year my plum trees didnt yield a big harvest. There was alot of young apples but the deer did some unwanted thinning of fruit...so not many apples to eat or store.
Luckily the soft fruit was plentiful, so I have jars of raspberry,strawberry jam, gooseberry & thyme jelly. I am planning on adding venison to the freezer!!

Jewel said...

Thyme jelly, I've never tried that before, sounds good. We had deer for years thinning our fruit, they would come in the middle of the night just when the fruits were perfect, it was so frustrating. This is the first year our property has been fenced to keep the deer out, I'm loving having the fruit all to ourselves.