Friday, October 20, 2017

Autumn Harvest & Lots of Canning! (& cookbook winner!)

Autumn really is the season of harvesting and bounty! These days, the produce at the farmers market is starting to shift... the nectarines are winding down, but there are still lots of tomatoes and peppers and lots of other goodies to appreciate. I've been slaving away in the kitchen -- lots of preserving and canning and good ol' "setting up" to be done. 

first up: Apples, Apples, and a few more Apples 

We've got a wonderful apple tree out in the backyard and I love it so much. But I won't lie, I also feel burdened by it sometimes. So many apples! And a crushing sense of responsibility to never let a good apple go to waste! I usually make at least one big batch of applesauce... however, I don't actually eat all that much applesauce, so I still have quite a bit left over from last year. 

Perhaps one of these years I will actually buy myself a dehydrator so I can make some dried apples. Or maybe an apple press so that I might make apple juice? This year, in a determined effort to avoid making more applesauce, I read several recipes online about how to make apple juice. They seemed a little confusing - like, basically, they sounded a lot like recipes for making applesauce. But I am good at following recipes, so I forged ahead bravely... and what did I end up with? A LOT OF APPLESAUCE. Ha ha ha. Oh well, at least it's delicious applesauce. And now I know what to give everyone for Christmas! 

Roasted Bell Peppers

I guess I have become a bit of a food snob -- whenever possible, I really prefer to eat local and organic produce. But, in winter time this is a problem because there aren't any more bell peppers or corn or other good stuff. So, one of my coping strategies is to roast and freeze a bunch of bell peppers when they are at the peak of their excellence. I made this helpful diagram for you in case you want to roast some peppers too. It's not too late! 


Beautiful, delicious, wonderful Concord Grapes

All my life, my grandparents had a wonderful, bountiful garden. Their garden was a place for family parties, celebrations, daily visits, activities and projects, games and play. It is a place that I love so much, and where I have only ever felt loved. 

All along one long fence of their garden is a wall of Concord Grapes. They are just so delicious. We would pick them and eat them and spit out the seeds. My grandma would make grape juice. They were a constant presence, year after year. After my grandparents died, my aunt and her partner moved into their home... and happily, they have maintained the garden with great care, and this year they had an especially abundant grape harvest. And, lucky me, they were gracious enough to share with me! 

Processing Grapes:
boiling, draining through the sieve, all canned up

I think we picked 10 pounds of grapes! I made several jars of grape juice (way more than pictured!), and a batch of grape jelly. Mr. Vegan Eats and Treats loves Concord Grape Jelly more than any other flavor. So it felt good to make a big batch of jelly for him. I used a low sugar recipe for the jelly and the flavor of the grapes is so strong and so amazing!!

more garden bounty

While we were having a grand old time picking grapes and enjoying the garden, my aunt gave me SO MUCH more amazing produce: a very big box of totally incredible tomatoes, three varieties of figs (!!), a beautiful sweet pepper, and a few semi-spicy peppers. So fun and beautiful and tasty... and it's all so extra sentimental and meaningful because it comes from this special garden that I have loved and enjoyed for all my life. 

Last but not least, Tomatoes! 

Tomatoes from my garden were canned up a while back, but my lovely farmer friends Jane and JP gave me a big box of "seconds," tomatoes with little blemishes that make them unfit for wholesale. Their tomatoes are just like manna from heaven, so incredible -- they're dry-farmed organic tomatoes. This means they end up a little on the small side, relatively low moisture, and each little tomato is packed full with the flavor of 100 tomatoes. 

We ate a lot of these tomatoes just fresh, in salads and as snacks. But of course I also did some good canning - five big huge jars of pasta sauce, and four little jars of Tomato Sesame Jam. So much deliciousness awaits!!

(possibly one of the weirdest doodles I've ever drawn for my blog!!) 

How about you? Have you been canning or freezing any of this autumn bounty?? 

___________    Cookbook Winner!    ___________

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of Celine Steen's Latest book: 
Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking
The random number generator selected comment #11: CCarter!


  1. Ha! For some reason I just love your canned family doodle. I really do wish I could put my pets/kids in a jar and keep them in my pocket sometimes. :)

    PS. Great reminder on roasting/freezing some peppers!!

  2. My apple tree didn't produce as much this year or maybe somebody picked them when I wasn't looking but the end result was not too many apples. :( Noah has always LOVED applesauce and I would make a big pot every week when he was home. I was a regular customer of the "not so pretty apples" at the Previdelli stand.

    I took advantage of the jam berries at P&K Farms and made some strawberry jam. It's so good when it's homemade!

    I also like your tutorial on roasting and freezing peppers. I think I'll have to do it this year!

  3. So much goodness! I wish I could grow something, just one thing, that I could harvest and eat, but I have a very black thumb. I live vicariously through posts like this. I can't believe that they couldn't see those tomatoes, they look amazing! But a total win for you.

  4. So much cuteness here!! I especially love the one of your family spilling out of the cornucopia. It sounds like autumn has been keeping you busy with produce duties. I'm sure you enjoy that so much all winter long as you eat the fruits of your labor. You're like a squirrel, planning for winter. :D

  5. Wow, all of that looks so delicious! I don't think I've ever had concord grapes, although as a kid I always loved getting the juice at our Jewish seder in place of wine.

    I thought you could make dried apple rings in the oven. I've never done it but I know I have a recipe bookmarked from a long time ago. Might be worth checking out if you have any more apples!

  6. Glorious post!

  7. THAT'S ME!!!! Oh so very exciting!! I also have been dealing with apples - purchased ones, but still. Dried apple rings are the #1 favorite around here, followed by apple butter (made in the slow cooker), and applesauce bringing up the rear. The dehydrator has paid for itself many times over with apple rings!

  8. Homemade applesauce is a GREAT holiday gift!

  9. Have you tried just juicing the apples through a regular old juicer? I can't remember you drink alcohol but I've used a regular juicer, and made hard cider! It is pretty easy, juice and let it sit! That's it! It will pick up natural yeasts in the air, but you will probably get something sour tasting. If you boil the juice to kill all existing yeasts, then add champagne yeast (you can find this at a local home brew store) you will get hard cider. Super simple.

  10. I stayed at an Airbnb with apple trees recently and the owner said I could take as many apples as I wanted, so I ended up hauling a whole tote filled with tasty apples on the flight home... they made the best applesauce! :)


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