Saturday, August 28, 2010

Aunt Rose's Soup Stock

Friday was soup stock day on BRSK Farm.
A few years ago my Aunt Rose visited and left us a jar of her home canned soup stock and it was delicious. This summer I asked her for the recipe and she shared with me.
I picked tomatoes in the garden and really wanted to use them, but I really didn't want to fight with the lumps and bumps during the skin removal. Now if FabHub were home to do the skin slipping I probably would have used them, cause he is our resident expert on that process. He was at work though (Yay!). So I didn't use them. They are kinda pretty though.
Instead I heated these local produce store bought tomatoes. Very nice, smooth, round, and easy to get the skins off of for the soup.
These onions did come from my garden. Chopped and in the pot first.
The carrots and corn are not home grown either. Lest you think they might be, I didn't even try growing them this year.
Peas either. Maybe next year the garden will sprout these colors. This year - PictSweet provided the small vegetables.
The tomato water did come from my garden. Maybe. I did get some tomatoes to SJ from a friend. But they were grown in this county!
Cabbage - I grew some, but only got a couple of good heads out of the garden. They went into cole slaw. This is from the store too.
After most of the vegetables are in the pot I stirred vigorously before adding the tomatoes.
At this point I was concerned that because the recipe didn't call for peas and my tomatoes were kind of big, maybe I should add some more tomato water. But I didn't.
After adding some of the tomatoes I added the salt and then stirred some more.
Then the rest of the tomatoes went in.
Then I remembered I needed to add celery. So I got it diced up and dumped in the pot.
More stirring and realization that the salt was drawing moisture from the cabbage and the juice from the tomatoes was now in the pot. Glad I didn't add any juice.
Then I put the top on the pot and waited for it to boil. Once it was boiling I let it simmer for an hour, which gave me time to deal with the SJ in the background.
After the simmer hour, I loaded the soup into nine quart jars and two pints. I ran out of quart jars for the moment, but I had pints available so I filled them up.
When everything was ready I put seven jars in the pressure cooker and waited for steam.
Then I waited for jiggling. By the way, Can you tell I got a new range hood? The other one was old, a complete pain to clean (getting upside down and dripped on is not my thing), and came down a lot closer to the stove top. Now I need to paint those two inches on the wall. OR - a mosaic back splash would look nice all the way around the counter top. Need to think about that some more. Maybe get those under counter lights installed too. Okay back to the soup.
75 minutes later and time for the PC to depressurize and I had jars of soup stock.
It looks very tasty. I had one quart jar that didn't seal so looks like dinner on Saturday will be soup. Oh, I should get out the hamburger. Might be helpful. I will probably use regular water in it during preparation though. I was thinking of using more tomato juice, but that would be three jars in here. Next time I make the soup I might just use one juice and one water to can and then a jar of juice to cook dinner.
Speaking of juice. I took the cuttings and skins from all the vegetables in the stock and added the lumpy tomatoes to them in the SJ. Then juiced them down into four quarts of beautiful golden vegetable juice. Unfortunately I was tired of tomatoes and needed to get to town before the optometrist closed. The pigs will have a tasty treat from that pulp.
By the way, what is that lurking behind the soup stock?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tomato Juice and Sauce

I spent a couple days this week up to my elbows in tomatoes. I had a 5 gallon bucket of Celebrity type tomatoes and another bucket of Roma tomatoes. I also went to a farmer's market to see what they had and bought five pounds of each type and got about three pounds out of my garden, which is coming along slowly thank you very much. I will stick with free tomatoes from now on. Apples on the other hand I will buy at the farmer's market since I don't have a free source of those.
Below is the first run of the Celebrity group.
I loaded and started the Steam Juicer, got the water bath canner ready to go, and got my jars and lids heated up.

After an hour this is what the tomatoes looked like.
About half way through I drained the juice out of the SJ and stirred up the tomatoes.
These jars are the results of the first pot of steam juicing. The pure tomato juice will be used for cooking. The clearest, which was drained before stirring the pulp, will probably be cooking water for pasta and the more pulpy post stirred drain will be in with a roast or soup that can do with a good tomato flavor.
After I got the juice jars boiling in the water bath and another load of tomatoes in the SJ I ran the tomato pulp through the strainer.
I only ran it through once because there was nothing left on the skins when I got done turning the crank. I need a square stainless steel pan to use instead of this big bowl, but it is the only one I had wide enough to catch the pulp and I didn't want to use the aluminum pan. There was about a half a spoon's depth in the middle of that bowl when I got done.
After I got done with all of the Celebrity tomatoes I added some green pepper, onion, garlic and some other spices to make spaghetti sauce. The instructions I had were not based on using the SJ so where it said to cook down until the right consistency, well, that was hardly necessary since I had already removed a majority of the juice.This sauce only spent time cooking down at all because I had to wait for the jars to finish cleaning and heating in the dishwasher. It was just about perfect from the beginning.
In the end I did four runs of the Celebrity tomatoes and got these results.
I got 13 quarts of tomato juice (two are in the fridge because they didn't seal) and 12 and a half pints of spaghetti sauce. I used the half pint on some twisty pasta for dinner. It was delicious!
The next day I did the Roma tomatoes. You can just about double everything in this last picture.
I got 11 more quarts of juice and 10 and a half pints of smashed tomato salsa with appropriate spices. We didn't get home early enough yesterday to try it, but it smells wonderful.
I was actually kind of disappointed in the Roma tomatoes. I thought they would put out a lot more pulp for sauce than they did. I got almost the same amount of juice and less pulp from the Romas if you figure in the amount of peppers and onions chunks that were added in when I made the salsa.
Oh well. It is all worth the effort to have them on the shelf. Now I need to use up the store bought stuff so that it doesn't go to waste sitting on the shelf while we eat the homemade sauce.
Next on the canning plan is eight pounds of Gala apples that need to be juiced and turned into apple butter. Should be interesting since there ought to be a lot less cook down time than I remember from when FabHub and I made it one time. That and no need to peel the apples. I do need to read the instructions about coring though. I know I can SJ them too, but will they go through the Victorio when they are steam softened? I have to look into that. The juice will probably end up in pint jars until I decide to turn it into jelly. I also have some peach juice to jelly. I might do some more grapes too. We drank the first run of grape juice. It was delicious.
After the apples I need to do some tomatoes the normal way to keep them in chunks for the soup stock recipe that Aunt Rose shared with me. I am waiting for my garden tomatoes to do that. I have a Celebrity, two Tree tomatoes and a yellow one of which I have seen no color yet. I should probably write down the plant dates next year so I can figure out when they should be ready.
So that is my tomato adventure so far this year. Has anybody else been putting up some tasty preserves?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Catching up

We have been busy lately. FabHub is trying to start an annual before the new year starts party here on the farm. We now have year one done. We will be back again next year.
The best part of the whole thing was that the basement got finished! Well, mostly. The walls are done, the electricity is hooked up, some of the windows are trimmed out, and the whole place looks wonderful.
This is the very nice job FabHub did on the windows.
The windows with the glass blocks aren't trimmed yet, but progress is good.
Here we have the pot lights installed and...
Dimmer switches! WooHoo!! Very nice. We have more lighting options than probably seems right, but having lots of options is far better than light or no light.

This last part should make Mom very happy. I know it does me.
Light outside the basement door. YEAH! Inside the door is the mudroom. FabHub is still finishing a couple of things in there and then the ceiling tiles go back up and we will start working on the next step. Tile. Wish us luck.

I checked the garden when I got home tonight and found a few things ready to pick.
I said a few. These beans vines should be all over that line. I found about two dozen beans.
The cucumbers are a bit dry looking, but there are a few on the vine.
The hole between the marigolds is supposed to be a zucchini and a summer squash should be there too. Both of them got bugged early this year. I barely got anything off of them. Makes it hard to have baked vegetables for dinner.
As for the tomatoes, they are looking okay, but not awesome either. They should be a lot taller.
One problem is deer and the other is fertilizer. I can fix both problems.
The basil and marigolds are doing pretty good though.
So this is my haul for Tuesday.
We had the beans for dinner, the cucumbers will be good tomorrow and there are not enough tomatoes for a run through the steam juicer. I should be able to get some more from a girl at work though. Then I can make some tomato water to go in some soup mix that I plan to can. That should be a real improvement over regular water and very tasty this winter.

Speaking of the steam juicer. I picked up some peaches a few days ago.
First I quartered them and took out the pit.
And then turned up the heat. An hour and a half later I had 3 pints of peach juice which I can turn into jelly this winter. I also got a jar of peach stuff to use somehow one day. I used some more of the peach stuff to simmer along with some pork chops for dinner that night.
It was very tasty.
Tomatoes should be next. Tomato water. Tomato sauce. Some salsa. Soup mix. Apple juice and sauce will be along later.
And I have to work really hard on keeping this house ready for company. So come and visit sometime. We love to have people over.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

My New Kitchen Gadget

Over on Chickens in the Road a discussion got started about this new old fangled way of juicing fruits and vegetables. I like a new old gadget so I jumped in feet first and ordered one from Amazon.
This thing is officially known as a Steam Juicer. I called it "new old" because it is one of those things that somebody's Grandma brought over from the old country, but somehow never made it on the store shelves in the general store and now finally is getting some spot light. At least in my very limited circle.
The way it works is that water boils in the bottom section. The steam rises through the cone of the middle section -imagine an angel food pan - and heats the top section which is basically a colander. The heat bursts the cells of the fruit, such as the 10 pounds of grapes that I started with for my initial steam juicing experiment.
The juice collects in the middle section and is then drained into jars through the hose.
FabHub found some half gallon jars over in Grandma's stuff and brought them over for me to use. I ran them through the dishwasher and filled both of them.
The one on the right is the first one that I filled it was a little tart. The left jar was quite a bit sweeter so I will be mixing them. I plan on using this juice mixed with Sprite and served over ice at a picnic next weekend. It should be refreshing.
Now the grody part. Remember those 10 pounds of grapes?

After an hour of steaming they looked like this. They really had nothing juice like left to give.I could have put them in the dehydrator and had white raisins in about 20 minutes.
Instead, the pigs are getting a tasty dessert. They have recently discovered surplus vegetables so fruit should be welcome too.
Next experiment will be to make some tomato sauce. I figure that cooking them down about half way will give me some nice tomato stock for crock pot dinners and the sauce I want without all that time spent evaporating.
So that is my new kitchen gadget. FabHub was pretty impressed with it too. We may need more shelves, or the stored jars might end up full of tasty stuff.
Don't worry, you know I will share the story of the tomatoes.