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Fruits Of The Garden

Ginnie BakerIt’s now the middle of August and I’m rather disappointed in my garden this year.

I don’t know if it’s because of the unusual weather we’ve had, with too much rain and cool temperatures, or if it’s just “one of those years.”

The tomatoes are a major disappointment. By now, I should have been canning for a month but I’m just getting started.

The beans have been outstanding and so is the squash so I really shouldn’t complain too much. I worried about the apple trees with the harsh winter we had, but they are loaded with apples.

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A friend’s father said a couple of years ago, “When you have a bumper crop from the garden, put up everything you can because you’ll want it when you have a bad garden year.”

He was so right! I’m glad I had a bountiful garden crop last year and canned and put a lot of produce in the freezer. I know I’ll be glad to have it all in the middle of the winter. It’s so nice to go downstairs and see all of the jars of tomato juice, salsa, pizza sauce, ketchup, pickles, mixed vegetables, applesauce, apple butter and pumpkin butter on the shelves.

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I always grow pumpkins and I have to admit, most of the plants are “volunteers” from the year before so I always have quite a few vines growing in the garden.

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Each year, I make a batch of pumpkin butter. It’s very similar to apple butter but has a little different taste. It can also be canned in large quart jars and used to make pumpkin pie filling.

Here are a few recipes from my collection.

Pumpkin Butter Made in a Slow Cooker

2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir well. Cook on high for three hours, stirring occasionally. It thickens as it cooks. Don’t let it burn or stick. After it’s done, fill pint or 1/2-pint jars and seal. Process in a water bath canner for 40 minutes.

To process a fresh pumpkin: Cut the pumpkin as you would a cantaloupe or watermelon (in sections). Remove the rind and cut the pumpkin into one inch pieces. Put the pieces in a large stockpot with water and cook until it will mash with a fork. Drain and puree in a blender.

To make Pumpkin Pie

For 2 pies:

1 pint jar of Pumpkin Butter and 1/2 pint jar of Pumpkin Butter
2 eggs
1 cam (12 ounces) evaporated milk

Mix all together and pour into pie shells. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for 45 minutes until done.

Salsa (from Countryside Magazine)

5 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 cup vinegar
3 cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups hot peppers, optional
1 tablespoon salt
2 to 3 cans tomato paste

Parboil tomatoes to remove skins; core and chop. Combine all ingredients in a large pot; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 30 minutes or until desired thickness. Fill 5 to 6 pint jars (I use 1/2-pint jars) leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes (1/2 pint or pints).

Quick hint: if you don’t have garden tomatoes, use prepared chopped tomatoes.

Three Bean Salad (From The Practical Produce Cookbook)

1  1/2 cups green or yellow beans
1/2 cup vinegar
1  1/2 cups canned, drained red kidney beans
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup canned, drained Garbanzo beans
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1  1/4 cup water
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced green pepper
1/2 teaspoon canning salt

Snap off ends of beans; cut or snap in 1-inch pieces. Blanch for 3 minutes and cool immediately. Rinse kidney beans and drain again. Prepare and measure all other vegetables.

Combine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add oil and salt; mix well. Add beans, onions, celery and green pepper to solution and bring to a simmer. Marinate for 12 to 14 hours in the refrigerator, then heat the mixture to boiling. Fill jars with solids. Add hot liquid, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.