Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Colour

Maple, originally uploaded by Campobello Island.

The fall foliage colour is rapidly disappearing but this maple tree in my neighbor's front yard is still a show stopper. Most of our maples turn a shade of orange or red but whatever species this one is lights up like a light bulb. A beautiful time of year but we all know what is just around the corner, all of the nice colour will be covered with a blanket of white.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quince Jelly

Quince Jelly, originally uploaded by Campobello Island.

It seems that every time I do another preserve I say that is the last one of the season well I think this is really it, I'm almost out of jars.

I've never even tasted Quince jelly before but I've thought about making it for years now. My two flowering quince shrubs always have some fruit on them in the fall but this has been an exceptional year for them, evidently they really liked our very wet summer. I always thought that the growing season here must be too short for the fruit to ripen, it turns yellow but stays hard until it falls off the plant. I discovered while looking on the internet for jelly making instruction that the quince fruit never does get soft, so I was good to go.

The process is simple:

1. Cut the fruit in half and remove the core and seeds, I used a tea spoon which worked well.

2. Put the prepared fruit in a heavy bottom pan and add enough water to cover by one inch.

3. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer for one hour.

4. Take off the heat and mash, I used a hand held blender.

5. Put the mashed quince in a double layer cheesecloth bag and hang over a bowl or container to catch the liquid. I left mine to drain over night.

6. Measure the liquid and return it to a heavy bottomed pan add slightly less than one cup of sugar for each cup of liquid.

7. Bring to a rolling boil and cook until it reaches the jelly stage. You can determine this stage by chilling a spoon full on a cold (one you've kept in the freezer)plate as soon as one of these tests produces firm jelly remove from the heat and skim off the foam.

8. Add to sterile bottles with sterile lids.

Enjoy the resulting jelly which I find a bit tart but a very nice flavour.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trying out my homemade canned apple pie filling.

Well I just had to try out the canned apple pie filling to see what it was like. I used a deep pie dish so I was able to use a whole liter jar of the canned pie filling in the one pie. When I emptied the jar into the pastry I was concerned about the amount of liquid and thought it was either likely to boil over in the oven or produce a very sloppy pie. I'm please to say that neither happened. I'm not quite sure where it all went but the finished product was a very normal Apple Pie and it didn't make a mess in the oven. All in all I'm very pleased and I certainly will make more of this in the future, maybe even later this fall. It sure takes a lot of the time consuming work out of making an apple pie, no peeling, cutting, seasoning etc.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pumpkin Sweet Apple Harvest and Apple Pie Filling Canning

It seems to be getting colder early this year and I've started to think that my apples might freeze before I get them picked, so today I got my long handles picker out and harvested four shopping bags full of my Pumpkin Sweet Apples.

They are an amazing apple green when ripe just like Granny Smith and a great old heritage apple with good storage qualities. Best used as a cooking apple I love them baked, in pies or apple sauce. I've never tried canning them before so this year I though I would can some pie filling and apple sauce. Today I canned five quart jars of Apple Pie Filling.

This also gave me an opportunity to use my new Starfrit Apple Peeler and slicer/corer, both worked very well and only cost $11.50. The slicer only makes eight sections from each apple and I thought they were too thick for pies so I cut each section into two pieces. To keep the apple sections from turning brown before I could can them I put them in a solution of one gallon of water with two tablespoons each of vinegar and salt.

Next I made a thick syrup by cooking until thickened a mixture of 4 ½ cups sugar, 1 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, 10 cups water and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. The rest was easy pack the jars full of sliced apples, cover with the syrup, finger tighten jar lids and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes after the water returns to a full boil.

The syrup is delicious I hope it makes a good pie.

Some Pumpkin Sweet Info:

Pumpkin Sweet (Pound Sweet, Pound Sweeting, Pumpkin Sweeting, Rhode Island Sweet, Round Sweet, Vermont Sweet, Lyman’s Pumpkin Sweet, Sweet Pumpkin, Yankee Apple) - The name for this apple is derived from its large size and yellowish-orange color. It originated in 1800's in the orchards of S. Lyman of Manchester, Connecticut and was first recorded in 1834. It has long been a popular apple in the South sought out for its culinary qualities. It is excellent for baking or canning, but less desirable for fresh eating. Fruit is large to very large with tough, smooth skin with patches of russet, occasionally showing a brownish-red blush. The yellow flesh is firm, crisp, juicy, and very sweet. Ripens October or later.(Quoted from Big Horse Creek Farm website.

1. The finished product, 2. The finished product, 3. The corer/slicer, 4. The corer/slicer, 5. In a vinegar and salt bath to stop browning, 6. The Starfrit peeler, 7. The Starfrit peeler, 8. The harvest, 9. Pumpkinsweet Apples on the tree, 10. Long handled picker in action., 11. Long handled picker in action., 12. Harvest

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Fruits of Autumn 2009

One of the things that I like most about this time of year along with all of the autumn colour is the bounty of fruit that is available for wild life that are preparing for winter. A walk around my garden this morning with my camera revealed that mother nature has done a very good job this year. In this collage there are photos of Bar Berry, Bittersweet, Quince, Pumpkin Sweet Apples, Rose Hips and Fire Thorn.

Quince is so bitter that I'm not sure if anything actually eats it. The pumpkin sweet apple is an old heritage variety and I will be harvesting some soon for canning, great in apple pies. The interesting thing about this apple though is that it never falls off the tree. There will still be some of this years brown fruit next spring when it blooms again. It is much appreciated by the early returning spring birds and last year one lonely robin over wintered in my garden and was seen almost every day picking on the frozen apples.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Garlic planted six days ago is up and growing already !!

I'm amazed the garlic that I planted in my new square foot garden project, only six days ago, is up and growing this morning. It was fresh new garlic not even sprouted when I planted it. The weather has been warm with a couple of rainy days since it was planted so I guess it isn't wasting any time getting established before winter sets in. That's a good thing because if it sets good roots before freeze-up it will stand a much better chance of staying in the soil rather than being push up out of the ground by the frost. I will have to remember to mulch it well after the ground freezes.