wraavr: (canning)
 It has been a long week of peaches.  Last Friday, I went to my cousins' peach orchard in SE New Hampshire, Union Lake Peach Orchard.  I brought back close to a bushel of peaches - so delicious!  Over the past week, I've canned (or otherwise prepared):

3 batches of peach salsa
1 batch peach jam
1 batch peach/orange jam
1 batch peach leather
1 batch peach compote
1 batch peach pie filling
1 batch peach BBQ sauce

I am finally done!  Thing is, I still need to can some peach-rum sauce and some more jam and compote, so I'll have to pick up some more peaches before the end of the season.  
wraavr: (gardening)
It has been hot and humid a lot of the time this summer.  Not my favorite kind of weather, but the garden is loving it.  The tomatoes are looking fantastic (I have red, orange, and yellow ones this year), and I made a good call putting all the peppers in pots rather than planting them in the ground.  The ground cherries are going crazy, and for the first time I have ripe tomatillos at the beginning of August.  I made green beans almandine tonight with the beans I've picked the past couple days.  The winter squash is continuing to grow with some new ones forming, and I've got two large swan gourds that might be nearly ready to pick (pictures below the cut).  Unfortunately, the zucchini is a casualty; apparently the groundhog that lives in the next yard over was chewing on the vine last week, and there don't seem to be any new leaves growing.  Oh well, at least I got 3 zucchini from the plant.

My unexpected success of the summer is okra.  All the 90+ degree days we've had have been exactly what the okra has wanted.  I have three plants growing in containers, and once they got past the cooler than normal weather in early June, they've taken off. I've gotten 12 or so big pods so far, and the plants keep producing.  I made fried okra using Paula Deen's recipe -- YUM!!  I'm going to make some gumbo next.  I'll need to pick up some filé powder before I do; this might necessitate a trip to Christina's Spice & Specialty Foods in Cambridge (and then a trip to Christina's Ice Cream next door!).  

I picked wild blueberries at Pitcher Mountain in New Hampshire last week.  The locals I met up there said picking wasn't that great for August (like everywhere in southern New England, the blueberries came in early this year), but with diligence I was able to pick about a quart and a half.  Blackberries were an unexpected find on the mountaintop, and I was able to get a cup or so of those too.  I got to do some geocaching up there too, and found all four caches I searched for, so all in all I didn't mind the less-than-peak conditions. 

Canning in the past few weeks has included blueberry jam, seedless blackberry jam, and charred chili salsa.  I will be making peach salsa and jam soon, and will make salsa verde as soon as I get two pounds of tomatillos.  It's time to make pickles too; the drop-off dates for canned goods at the Big E and Topsfield Fairs are coming up in about 4 weeks, and I want the pickles to sit in the jars for at least a couple weeks before the judging.  

Picures of delicious vegetables... )
wraavr: (Default)
It's such a crazy year for weather and crops. Spring started so early, which bumped up all the fruit crops. This year's strawberry season ended right around when it would start in a normal year. Early blueberries and raspberries started to ripen well before the end of June. Peaches and plums are coming in now! Crazy.

I went up to Smolak Farms in North Andover on Friday; they're one of two or three eastern MA farms that has gooseberries and currants, and they have the standard fruit crops as well.  I picked red gooseberries today, and also picked a cup of red and yellow raspberries for a snack.  The gooseberries will go into jam, and I think I got enough extra to make a grunt or fool or one of those old-fashioned New England or British desserts.  I picked blackcurrants at Smolak a few weeks ago and made some nice jam from those as well.

I also went to my new favorite secret blackberry spot before sunset; wild blackberries are just starting to ripen (again, 2 or 3 weeks early), and I foraged about a quart in 45 minutes.  I will try to hit my other spots this weekend too; some years are good and some are sparse, and I haven't done any recon at the other places this season.  

Next on my foraging list is wild blueberries; I've never picked them before, so this might be the year.  I've heard there are some in Middlesex Fells, but I figure I'll probably have better luck in NH or ME.  I'm also interested in scouting beach plums; I've never seen these before, and I have no idea which beaches might have them.  I didn't see any along the North Hampton to Rye stretch in NH last year when I was collecting rose hips, but maybe I just didn't know what I was looking for.  Any suggestions?
wraavr: (Default)
Answer: Lots!

Now that summer fruit is ripening, it's time for putting things up: canning, freezing, dehydrating.

Now, if you can things, I think you should enter your jams, jellies, salsas, sauces, pickles, etc. in county fairs! I did last year, and I won prizes! Woo!

2011 fair prizes

More observant viewers will have noticed there's a distinctly non-canned temari sitting amidst the jars and ribbons; I entered that in one of the arts & crafts contests, and got ribbons for that too! There are also lots of contests for baking, quilting and sewing, knitting, crocheting, photography, art, and various kinds of crafts. If you enter something, you stand a very good chance of winning a prize. You might even get prize money!

Local fairs (with entry due dates) include:

  • The Big E (W. Springfield, MA) - Canning, Baking, Photography, sewing/quilting, knitting, crocheting, crafts - August 1 (late entry August 15)
  • Topsfield Fair (Topsfield, MA) - Canning, Arts & Crafts - September 3; Baking, Honey - September 26 (yes, the website is down as of post time)
  • 3 County Fair (Northampton, MA) - Canning, Baking, Arts & Crafts - August 20

More info on the fairs under the cut. )


wraavr: (Default)

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