Now is usually about the time I begin to feel like summer is slipping through my fingers and it feels urgent that I try to squeeze in a bit more swimming and tomato sandwiches and take a few more thunderstorm naps. This year I am sick to death of thunderstorm naps.
I have to remind myself not to be dramatic about it, because it really feels like it has rained every minute of every day since I first dared to dream about tomato sandwiches and that the summer has been mud and mosquitos and lightning. Proof that my bad attitude is unwarranted has come in the abundance of squash and greens from our garden, the blessing of beets, onions, carrots, and berries from others, and the sandal tan on my muddy feet.
And today in our haul was this four pound spaghetti squash. Obviously the rain is helping somebody.
Originally from Lianna Krissoff in her book Canning For a New Generation
Makes approximately 6-7 pint jars
4 pounds yellow summer squash (another source suggested zucchini, which I may also try)
8 pounces sweet onion (about 1 medium)
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon pure kosher salt
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
2 tablespoons mild honey
7 cloves garlic
7 small fresh serrano chiles
Scrub the squash and cut it into ¼ inch rounds. Cut the onion in half lengthwise and thinly slice it into half-circles. Put the squash and onion in a large bowl and sprinkle with the ¼ cup salt, tossing to combine. Cover with a layer of ice cubes and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Pick out any remaining ice, and rinse under cold water. Drain well. (The original recipe says at this point to toss the squash with the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and ground cumin and set aside. I’ve found I lose some spice in the bowl this way because even when I drain it well it’s still wet. I’ve taken to mixing the spices in a separate bowl and dividing them among the sterilized jars before adding the squash and onions.)
Prepare water bath for canning. Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. (Here again, I’ve since begun keeping the lids at a simmer on another eye in a little saucepan, a la Marissa McClellan from Food In Jars.) Using a jar lifter, remove the hot jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.
Working quickly, pack the squash, onion, garlic, and chiles into the jars (not too tightly). Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, leaving ½ inch head space at the top. Use a chopstick to remove the air bubbles around the inside of each jar. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 15 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately. Label the sealed jars and store.
little dragonfly quickness of summer
this is a prayer
this is the body dressed in its own
at the change of seasons
|ALL in the Downs the fleet was moor’d,|
|The streamers waving in the wind,|
|When black-eyed Susan came aboard;|
|‘O! where shall I my true-love find?|
|Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true|
|If my sweet William sails among the crew.’|
I’ve never had my fill of berries before. They come in those tiny packages with high tags and train you to treat them like a delicacy. I daydream about having enough raspberries for jam and blackberries for pie filling and being able to just eat them until I have a belly ache.
This week at the farmers market I discovered a berry man that offers a U-pick option at his orchard, so the three of us put on our sun hats and long pants Monday and set out for blackberries and blueberries (raspberries are soon). The orchard was a blue-green expanse of orderly rows set against a backdrop of mountains. With the breezy weather and our newbie enthusiasm, we ended up staying until well past noon.
Now we’ve got tons and tons of berries. Gallons. I’ve never had so many at one time in my life. I’m plotting ways to use them all to make this a year where I get to eat berries all the time so that I might finally feel like I’ve eaten enough. They’re going in the freezer for our oatmeal, yogurt, and baking. I’m also going to try putting some in the dehydrator and make every enticing canned good I can dig up.
I’ve spent hours compiling a list of canning recipes. I want some jars of berries for pies and cobblers, some extra jam to share, and some experimental solutions for the rest.
Even with the kitchen overflowing with berries taking up all the usable surfaces and with all that work ahead of me I don’t think I’m cured. If someone gave me more berries right now I’d still take them in a heartbeat.
We went on a buying spree at the farmers market Saturday because it happened to be the summer debut of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and berries. This, of course, spawned a canning spree last night after it was cool enough in the house. (We’re still going with just open windows since it hasn’t gotten up to 90 yet.)
The first on the list was dandelion jelly. The process of collecting flowers for this jelly was pretty straightforward. I rounded up some children, headed into a yard that hadn’t been sprayed, and had a big bag of flowers picked in about half an hour. H and I sat in the kitchen afterward peeling away the petals from the leaves. While it’s not a terribly difficult task it was somewhat tedious. We ended up stopping at a quart and composting the rest.