A Summer Preserved

Much like a squirrel, I seem to be packing things away to eat later.  I can only hope that unlike the squirrels who constantly bury whole peanuts throughout my yard, I will remember where I put all this good stuff when I decide I want to eat it.

I started with blueberries.  I u-picked twice with friends; with Erin and Kajsa in Bellingham and with Sarah in Monroe.  Those not eaten have been squirreled away in the deep freeze.

Early summer brought an inundation of carrots and green beans, which meant pickling.  I made spicy carrot pickles with cider vinegar and red pepper flakes and tried Emeril's green bean pickles with lemon and rosemary.  Haven't tried the beans yet, but the carrots are pretty good.

Then came the deluge of plums, which you already know about.  I might add, however, that I could not have disposed of all of the plums had it not been for Janna and Darcy and the full day of jam making we did together.

After that, the peaches arrived -- 30 pounds from Tonnemaker farms, a vendor at my local farmers' market. The peaches were wonderful just to eat, and I also managed to preserve a few pints in light syrup and a few pints with vanilla bean and also tried some with kirsch.

Bartlet pears from a friend's tree made a brief appearance, allowing me to preserve a few jars of gingered pear compote.

Next came a heap of blackberries.  Some from my sister's yard, some from the farmers' market, and some from Walla Walla.  I mostly mixed them into things -- like blackberry-nectarine and plum-blackberry jams.

We also preserved them on our waistlines by eating large quantities on waffles.

And, because it is physically impossible to have too many peaches, we acquired another 25 pounds -- this time Redcrests -- on a visit to Walla Walla.  These we devoured, but not before I preserved some as brandied peaches. We have already opened a jar, for quality control purposes only I assure you, and tested them on shortcakes.  Quite edible! 

Along with the peaches from Walla Walla came 25 pounds of tomatoes.  Those mostly became tomato sauce, which I have stashed in the freezer for lasagna and the like in the coming months.  I am a huge fan of this basic tomato sauce, as it has a deep flavor from the long cooking time, and also has a mild sweetness to it from a small amount of shredded carrot.

Our trip to Walla Walla also yielded a haul of poblanos. After charring them to death and then freezing them, we are certain to have poblanos rajas to fill tortillas all winter long.

Lately, I have begun hoarding apples, and I am fairly certain it will continue throughout the month of October.  My first box of apples were akanes. This apple is quite possibly the perfect cooking apple.  If you're interested, it's a cross between Jonathan and Worcester Pearmin.

My akane apple crisp experiment was a resounding success.  The apples remained a beautiful white color and kept their shape even after baking.  They also had a nice sweet/tart flavor. (No disrespect to the akanes, but without doubt, the crisp was made nearly perfect by the scoop of brown suger ice cream I added on top.)  Akanes also get high marks in the applesauce catagory.  My 16 cups of applesauce turned out a brilliant pink, thanks to the skins.

This weekend, another box of apples came over the mountains to us from Walla Walla thanks to a visit from our friends Di and Allan. The apples, a cross between Macintosh and Red Delicious, are probably Empires. Turns out they are pretty much Byron's idea of a perfect apple.  I managed one batch of applesauce from them.  Not as pink but very tasty.  We'll probably store the rest for munching through the fall.

Our friends also brought us another box of tomatoes.  With those, I made more tomato sauce -- a spicy version this time -- and roasted some cut into wedges (at 225 degrees for about 5 hours).  I highly recommend the roasted version.

And finally, I "preserved" THE pumpkin.  Byron and I debated how to best preserve it (or at least the memory of it), given its favored status.  Should it become a jack o' lantern or a pumpkin pie?  The pie idea won out, and so last Thursday I got to it.  I baked THE pumpkin and then scraped out the flesh and pureed it. 

The sad news is that it yielded only a disappointing 1/4 cup of bright yellow pumpkin puree, which necessitated opening a can of pumpkin in order to actually make a pie.  Although I added THE pumpkin puree to the custard, I knew it would be virtually undetectable in the pie.  Little did I realize that THE pumpkin wasn't going to be forgotten so easily. 

To my great delight, when the pie came out of the oven, right on top was a smidgen of bright yellow pumpkin foam.  It seems some things preserve themselves.


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