Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Preserving the Harvest

Today was in the 80s but for me, summer is officially over. A sure sign of the end of summer in our family is an evening (or two) of canning tomatoes. And that's what we did tonight. Starting at 7:00 pm, Geoff and I blanched, peeled, halved, cooked, and canned a bushel of Roma tomatoes from Titus Farm. One bushel (about 70 lbs) will last until next summer when the first Early Girl tomatoes are harvested. I will use the tomatoes all year long for soups and sauces, including some which will end up in Caroline's lunch. The last batch of tomatoes is in the canner now and in 45 minutes, we will have seven more quarts. After almost seven years of marriage, Geoff is a master canner. While canning for five hours on a Wednesday night might sound boring, we actually enjoy it. After a busy day at work, it is nice to spend time together. We turned on music (the new Alison Kraus CD, a gift from our friend Christine), ate snacks (Concord grapes, Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese), and caught up on each other's day. Okay, maybe we gossiped a bit, too. Canning is one way that we preserve the harvest so that we can enjoy it all year long. I first learned how to can back in 2001 when I was working as an Extension agent in Oregon. I took the Oregon State University Extension Service's Master Food Preserver course and learned how to preserve everything from fruits to vegetables to fish. My friend Marge (who was my colleague and taught several of the classes and who is now a business partner at Portland Preserve) and I spent hours together canning tomatoes and peaches and making strawberry jam. Canning can be intimidating and it helps to have a friend around who knows what she's doing. Canning with Marge gave me the confidence I needed to do it on my own.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, September 20: Breakfast - O's, Queen's Lace peach; Lunch - rice, tofu, broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe; Snacks - Westwind Milling Company apple cinnamon raisin bread, Sun Gold cherry tomatoes

Childcare Center Menu, September 20: Breakfast - peaches, blueberry muffin; Lunch - cheesy rice, California vegetables, cantaloupe; Snacks - smiley fries

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