Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Crab Apples Galore!

By August our crab apple tree boughs were bending under the weight of the fruit, bunches of bright red little gems waiting to picked. They were also coming off the tree in torrents every time the wind blew. It was time to start picking. I found a few recipes for crap apple jelly but none for jam. Undaunted, I decided to alter the recipe and cook the mixture longer to include some of the fruit so I could make jam. Why waste all that delicious fruit? We picked 5 lbs and learned the hard way why crab apples don't make good jam. The next day, we picked another 5 lbs and resigned ourselves to jelly.
It was my first time canning, and the boys helped in every step. It was a mess but a lot of fun too. Unfortunately, the mixture did not set into jelly, so now we have very delicious crab apple syrup. The boys are happy to just have a jar to hold up to the sun. We tried it over pancakes this Saturday and it was wonderful; ruby red, sweet with a hint of tart, just how I like it. The recipe however called for double the amount of sugar than I used. Apparently crap apples have ample pectin and should set quite well if you use the recommended amount of sugar, but I think it would have been way too sweet with that much sugar. Guess what we'll be giving out for gifts this Christmas?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tomato Time

It's August and the tomatoes are finally ripening! Now I remember why I spend so much time in dirt. This year I tried a few new varieties like Purple Cherokee and Black Crim. We sliced thick slabs of the first Brandywine and ate it with fresh eggs and mayonase on Rudi's white bread. Is there anything better?
I have been reading up on how to preserve tomatoes. It sounds like the best method is to roast the tomatoes for 3-4 hours with a some salt and olive oil and then skin them, puree, and then freeze for use in the dead of winter when a green garden is just a memory.
I also freeze my basil, thanks to Martha. I puree it and add butter and olive oil and then freeze it into small cubes to use in soups or sauces.