For many people, October may seem a little late in the year to just start thinking of preservation. I believe August, or even September--when foods from the garden are wildly abundant--are the times of year when most people think to preserve their foods. But in our household, we tend to be too busy eating everything in sight to actually look ahead and preserve the fruits (literally) of our labors. And so October winds up being the month when we say, oh crap, we forgot to save ANY of this for later. We also recall that we forgot to give any to our neighbors (oops!) as we were too busy eating whole tomatoes as hand-fruit like complete gluttons.
The first sign that it was time to start thinking of preservation was when Robb pulled 84 (yes EIGHTY-FOUR) hot peppers out of the pepper patch. He'd kind of just been letting them hang on, turning nice and red, so that they'd be ready any time we found ourselves in a taco mood. I don't think either of us realized how many were out there. Eeeps! This photo of Robb, where the hot peppers are literally spread out as wide as his wing-span, is possibly his proudest/happiest moment.
Robb put each variety in its own ziploc bag and threw them in the freezer. We did this last year with a handful of Thai Dragon peppers and it worked just fine. They defrost in minutes, don't get mushy, and stay nice and spicy. Is it ironic that something hot survives well in the cold? Perhaps.
Canning tomatoes, on the other hand, is a little more complicated than throwing hot peppers in a freezer bag. But still a worthwhile endeavor! This year, by the time it occured to us that we should can tomatoes, we had literally run out of them. (Gluttons!) Actually, we had enough for about one quart jar, but who wants to can one jar of tomatoes? So on a very industrious Saturday morning, we made our way to the farmers market and loaded up on the end of the year's crop. You can tell by their "glistening" that they're about to turn the corner to rot-town. Gross!
Because we also decided to do laundry, clean the house, watch Law and Order and I don't know what else (it was a really busy day), we didn't actually have time to can the tomatoes the day we bought them. But the glistening signs of rotten tomatoes were freaking me out, so I flash boiled all of them and peeled their skins, putting them safely away in tupperware until we had more time to can.
The following night, I got out all of our canning equipment. Even my fancy totally impractical porcelain measuring spoons from Anthropologie! Within a couple of hours, we had five lovely jars of tomatoes.
Two of the quart jars were from "someone else's garden." Whose garden? I don't know. But look at my handiwork with the pinking sheers on my homemade stickers!
One was from our garden (yay!). And one quart (plus whatever is a size smaller than a quart...a pint?) were the "fancy pants heirlooms" that we got at farmer's market for $4 a pound. We literally paid $15 for three tomatoes! So dumb. But rest assured, these are the fanciest pants canned tomatoes you ever did see. I feel like I want to put them in a museum, not make them into spaghetti.
These are the tomatoes with my mocassins. Just cuz.
OK, and one last thing. Miracle of all miracles, we have carrots!! We planted the seeds in March and have been pulling these puppies out of the ground since July, laughing hysterically at their impossibly puny size. The other night, Robb decided to start digging. Lo and behold, he pulled a few freaky-looking huge carrots out of the ground! This one even had two legs, like a little carrot man.
(No Carrot Top jokes please.)