The Projects Keep Coming

I don’t know about you, but it seems the food preservation projects just keep coming.

Two days ago, I started a summer veggie sauce project to preserve the really ripe and not-so-pretty tomatoes as well as some squash, peppers, and a few small eggplant I hauled back from my farm down south this weekend.

I got as far as cutting up all the veggies (plus a few cloves of garlic) and cooking them down until soft, but I started so late in the day that the rest of the process had to wait ’til yesterday.

Up early the next morning, I ran the veggies through my strainer on the tomato sauce screen to make a smooth, lovely, bright red sauce, then set it on the stove to simmer down to thickness until I headed off to work.

I also brought a cooler full of leeks and kale (from my kale patch clean-up project) back from Vermillion, and when I got home from work that evening, I figured I’d better get on part of that project as well.

The cooler is sitting up in the parking area by my truck, so I went up and brought a dripping armload of leeks down to the kitchen and started slicing for the dehydrator.

They were partly cleaned, but it takes some effort to get the grit out, so the slices went in a bowl for soaking, the “flags” (tops) went in a tub for stock-making, and the roots went in the compost bowl.

Sliced leeks, canned sauce, and a melon from the Ortonville Farmers Market

That was the new compost bowl–after I’d hastily dug unmarked graves for all the other vegetable scraps and coffee filters I’d had piling up for the previous couple of days–two big bowls full, plus a tub of cukes starting to go moldy.

By this time, I’d gotten the tomato-veggie sauce in the pressure canner (the addition of those low-acid ingredients means it must be pressure-processed), praying that the old stove with push button heat controls would provide stable enough heat to keep the pressure in the right range.  It did!

And then I realized how hungry I was.  It’s hard to think about ingesting food when you’re preparing so much of it, but thankfully I’d pulled a ham steak out to thaw earlier in the day.

That went in the frying pan with a little butter, some sage, and a whole small yellow onion, sliced.  Once it was done, I smothered it with sauerkraut–mustard and horseradish on the side. A glass of cold Reisling.

I feel a little guilty about using my Bubbies’ (commercial) sauerkraut, knowing that so much of the fermented cabbage is produced in this area, but I brought it with me, and I’m determined to use it up before buying the local stuff.  A gal can only eat so much ‘kraut on her own.

While I was plating up the ham steak and pouring my glass of wine, it occurred to me that ham and sage would make a good stock with a few of those leek tops.  I could add some potatoes later for a proper soup!

So, I deglazed the ham pan with a slug of wine, added some trimmings from the steak, scraped it into the now-cleaned tomato sauce pot, rinsed, chopped, and added a few Blue Solaise flags, added water, and set that to simmer.

And then, I sat down to eat.

As usual, when I got done eating, I was completely exhausted.  My body doesn’t seem to know it’s tired until I sit down and put food in it–and then it’s hard to get back up.

So, I rinsed the sliced leeks, put them in a colander to drain overnight, and hit the hay.  This morning, awakened early by flashes of lightning over the lake, I arranged six trays of the heirloom Blue Solaises and fit them in the dehydrator.

But I still need to figure out what to do with all that kale.

So what about you?

What marathon food-preservation projects are you engaged in during these last precious days before the frosts?

What food preservation skills and processes would you like to learn for this season or next?


One response

  1. Well…here’s Michael Perry’s “recipe” for kale chips:

    If you don’t already know Mickey, I think you should. He’s a funny guy, wonderful author, songster, and, well…he’s just nice. Overmet him in the book store owned by a mutual friend. She pointed him out, sitting by the window pounding away on his laptop, and I immediately went into teenage squeally girl mode: “OMG! Michael Perry! I love your books! OMG! I can’t believe I’m talking to Michael Perry. Can I shake your hand”…ad naseam. Mikey was most gracious, is all I have to say.

    And, oh, yes, the kale chips are really good.


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