Our garden has been wonderful this year. The blessings of produce have definitely been overflowing. In May, we planted tomatoes, green peppers, green beans, corn, zucchini, cucumbers, and pumpkins. We also have a thornless blackberry patch out back. We used no pesticides or fertilizers on our garden.
We have eaten really well this summer thanks to our garden. Everything is finished except for the tomatoes and green peppers. I do lots of canning and freezing which allows us to enjoy our produce year round.
Below is a picture of one day’s harvest. This was when the tomatoes were just starting to turn red. I am now getting 2 bushels a picking, and that is from only 6 Roma tomato plants.
As much as I love our garden and preserving the produce, I also love to share the bounty. I have given away probably seven gallons of blackberries, two bushels of green beans, some cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, and corn. I want others to share in our blessings.
So far this year I have canned 56 pints of green beans, 3 batches of blackberry jelly, 46 quarts of tomato juice, 12 quarts of spaghetti sauce, and 10 jars of relish. I still have more tomatoes I will can.
I have frozen 56 cups of pumpkin puree, a few gallons of blackberries, a few gallons of green beans, green pepper slices, corn, and grated zucchini.
I use a water bath canner to can everything except green beans. Green beans have to be canned in a pressure canner. I have a Ball Blue Book that I use to get most of my canning information. I have also learned a few tricks from others.
Freezing Green Beans
Wipe dirt off of green beans, break ends off, and break into the size you like. Do not wash the beans or get them wet. Place in a freezer container or zip type bag. When you are ready to use them wash the beans. Place the beans and enough water to cover them in a pan. Bring them to a boil. Dump that water off of the beans and add fresh water. Now is the time to add your seasonings. Cook as you like. This process makes the beans taste like they were just picked. Click here for more details.
Wash and drain your berries. Lay them on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer overnight. Once frozen you can place the berries in freezer containers or baggies. This process allows the berries to freeze separately and you can easily use them when ready.
To get corn off of the cob I usually just use a sharp knife. I know a few people who say an electric knife makes the job much faster. One thing that I do is I place the blanched ear of corn into the center of an angel food cake pan. This holds the ear steady, and the corn I cut off goes right into the pan. It really works well.
Juicing Berries and Tomatoes
One item I have grown to love during this time of year is my Kitchen Aid mixer’s fruit and vegetable strainer attachment. I use it to get the seeds out of my blackberries to make jelly, and to get the skins and seeds out of my tomatoes for canning them. I also use the grinder attachment to make pumpkin puree and to grind my zucchini for freezing.
A few hints are to bring the blackberries to a low boil in a small amount of water for five minutes, let them cool, and then run them through the juicer. I found out the hard way that if they are raw they will clog up the juicer. The regular method for juicing tomatoes requires the skins to be taken off and the seeds strained, etc. I simply cut the tomatoes into a size that will fit through the juicer and that is all. There is very little waste and it saves lots of time.
For even more gardening and canning/freezing tips, check out the gardening and canning archives.
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