It is harvest season out there. While my own balcony still needs a few weeks (assuming any of them survive all the rain of the last weeks), much of nature is ready to harvest, the farmer’s in the area are overflowing with tomatoes, and my garden neighbor’s garden is so bountiful, I always go home with baskets or arms filled with fresh produce. In the middle of dishwasher surgery and finally finishing the kitchen, I found myself with kilos and kilos of plums, tomatoes, and potatoes.
So, I set out to fill the larder for winter.
A few days after I found the tree, I harvested the fruit. My garden neighbor also showed me another tree that was heavy with plums.
The tomatoes were pretty clean but I still soaked and washed them thoroughly. I cut most of them into dices to can but some went into the dehydrator to replenish our diminishing stock of “sundried” tomatoes.
I had no idea what I was doing. I’d watched some videos and read some recipes but I was still mostly improvising. I decided to can a bottle of tomato juice to have thicker diced tomatoes in the other bottles.
As the tomatoes cooked down, I removed more and more of the juice into the bottle.
I was trying to be efficient about the canner. The tomatoes would not take very long, so I did some mental math to figure out when to add and remove what. Some chickpeas for testing went in first, then the tomatoes. When I removed the tomatoes, they made room for the first of two batches of potatoes.
Speaking of potatoes: I still had to deal with 5 kilos of those. I diced the first batch, a giant bowl full of them. Those went into jars with salt and vinegar for canning immediately, as the tomatoes were almost done.
Because the internet was so scared of bursting jars and the canner was boiling, I soaked them in hot water in the sink before adding them. Yes, I am wearing thick woolen hiking socks in August. It was 15 degrees outside when I did this.
Some of the potatoes had thicker skins I decided to remove (and use for potato peel chips, of course). The second batch was turned into fries. I think, next time, I’ll turn most of them into fries as they tend to be gone fastest.
The tomatoes were bubbling happily on my counter while I loaded the potatoes.
The next morning, I checked on the drying tomatoes.
When I am done with the roof and garden beds in my garden, one of my hopes is to build a proper drying rack for things like tomatoes and herbs to have actually sun-dried tomatoes again.
But first, I had to deal with way too many plums. I remembered pits to be removable from my childhood. But these were firmly stuck and had to be cut out. I tried different techniques I’d seen in videos. It didn’t work. After two hours, I had barely made progress.
I called it a night. The next day, I knew I had to tackle the rest of them or they would go to waste. I decided to ignore all the instructions I had read and seen, and just used a knife and a cutting board. Within another hour, I had made it through the entire batch.
I cooked them down in my largest (and still too small) pot before adding them all to a large bowl to measure out fruit to sugar to lemon juice. I measured out about one cup of sugar per two cups of fruit. As there were fresh lemons in the fridge, I cut one open for the juice. Lucky for me, it was very juicy. You need about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per cup of sugar.
In Europe, jam is hot-filled without canning, and as I had already emptied the canner, I decided to give that a try. Let me tell you: hot jam is very hot! I burnt myself on one of the smaller jars not paying attention but the delicious sweet, fruity goodness was worth all of it.
The next weeks will bring many more fruits, nuts, and veggies into harvest season. I am excited for it all.
So long, and thanks for reading.