Tuesday, September 16, 2014


California Wonder Bell Peppers fresh from the garden. Some I allowed to ripen to a complete red and others are still green. The red ones will provide my seeds for next year. 

Huge blocky traditional peppers.

And lots of them. Normally earlier but with our cooler temperatures this year they are a bit late.

Some are dehydrated

Some are stuffed and frozen for winter meals. 

These will be thrown into pastas and added to casseroles throughout the year.

No special preparation needed. Just wash and slice as desired then freeze and bag.

Lots of slicing but well worth the effort when I look at the price of peppers in the grocery store. Peppers are simple to grow and I have saved seeds from this variety for years now. 

I personally adore the red ones in my pickles!

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Monday, September 15, 2014

Early Frost

Well here it is Monday and I am back with you again. We enjoyed our visit with family last week and had a little surprise from Mother Nature as well. For us our first frost here is about the middle of October but Jack Frost decided to visit early this year. Friday night September 12th we had our first frost of the season. A month ahead of schedule! We had a small cool front move through dropping those temperatures to the low 30's. We spent most of the day Friday picking what we could from the garden before the frost. 

So with mounded bowls of produce on my tables and porches, I guess you can all guess what I will be doing for the coming week. It is a job washing, sorting and processing this much fruit and vegetables then preserving it. Normally I can somewhat take my time and concentrate on one crop at the time. SO this Monday morning as I drink my coffee I am serenaded by the soft whir of the dehydrator running.  The roaster is full of tomatoes and I think every tray I own will be in the freezer with some sort of vegetable freezing on it.  

The girls in the hen house are extremely happy with all this garden goodness coming their way of peelings, seeds and excess. 

So as we enjoy the cooler temperatures and dig out those sweaters we hope that you all are enjoying  the goodness of the season. The garden still has potatoes to be dug and the mustard greens and turnips are loving these cool days and growing like bad weeds. 

I will not tarry today as I have lots to do but instead wish you all peace. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dill Relish

Well Monday morning has rolled around again and the sun is shining bright this morning. We had a small cold front move through over the weekend and the night temperatures dropped down into the 50's. Had the real nip of Fall in the air.  I have finished with my pickles for the year now.

I plant the heirloom variety pickling cucumber "straight eight" every year. It is open pollinated and I can save the seeds from year to year, it grows well in our area and if you allow it to get a little larger it can double as a slicing cucumber for the table as well.  Since I had a few jars left over from last year I only made 2 small batches so that we can finish the ones from last year off. 

You can find my dill relish recipe at this link

You can find my sweet relish tutorial here

I am putting pickles away regularly

You can find my dill chip recipe below


While I was at it I pickled a jar of okra for the fridge for us to snack on. 


Now for those who drop by regularly here I may be gone for a couple days.We have family coming in from Florida and Wisconsin and may be busy. Conduct yourself accordingly and feel free to poke around what is already here. I'll be back with you when I can.  Lots of cooking to do so I have to run! 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Friday, September 5, 2014

Peach Preserves

Years ago when Seed Savers Exchange first started they used to put out a book where it listed members that had plants and seeds that they were willing to share. I sent off one year and got three different things. Blackberries, Persimmon seeds and peach tree seeds. I sent the farmers/gardeners a small amount of money to cover shipping and they sent me seeds and cuttings to try. I got 4 peach tree seeds from an elderly man in the Georgia/Tennessee mountains that referred to these peaches as Indian Red or Indian peaches and said they were wild peaches. He said that they could be started from seeds, required little if any spraying and were extremely hardy. They grew in his fence line. He was telling the truth!

A decade and a half later those same peaches still grow on my farm. I find that the trees are not very long lived but bear for about a decade then seem to start to decline. The seeds were put into the freezer for a winter then taken out and planted in pots. Once they reached a certain height they were planted in their permanent homes and began bearing in about 3 years making small fruit the first year or two.  

Once the tree matures at about 5 years if the fruit is thinned and the tree is watered regularly the above picture gives you an idea of the fruit it bears.  Like most people I had always been told that fruit could not be started from trees. I had lots of land and nothing to lose. These trees have never been sprayed with anything ever. They do not do well in drought and extremely hot and dry weather the fruit will drop off. 

Now every year I get lots of emails from people wanting me to ship them this fruit. They want it to put into moonshine ??? I'm sorry I do not ship this fruit it is very fragile and does not ship well. I rarely have enough to ship anyway after my family gets what they want and I can the remains. I have occasionally sent seeds to friends. 

Although I do have several regular yellow peach trees these are our favorite peaches. 

I usually save the yellow peaches to preserve sliced peaches with because they pull away from the seeds (freestone). The white  (indian) peaches have to be cut away from the seeds.

The Indian peaches have white flesh with red veins running through them. They have a different taste than domestic peaches but taste wonderful in pies and preserves. 

When I have bumper crops I make wine with them. They make phenomenal wine and brandy!

This year we had a late frost and most of the domestic peaches have no fruit on them at all. The Indian peaches have a few hardy fruit that survived the frost to mature.  

So I have begun making preserves with what fruit I have that has started to ripen since I already have some sliced peaches in the pantry from last year. Usually this fruit ripens  in early August but it is now early September and due to extremely cool temperatures they are just now ripening with warmer temperatures finally showing up the last two weeks or so.  First I peel them and cut them away from the seeds. Then add sugar and lemon juice. 

8 cups fruit
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice

Let the fruit sit for a couple hours with the sugar and just the natural juices keep stirring every so often. The sugar will melt and the juices will collect. The lemon juice helps to keep the fruit from darkening. 

This is the same ratio as I use on my plum preserves that I made a week or so ago. 

Then put the pot of peaches and sugar on the stove and let it come to a boil and boil for about 15 minutes then turn off and cool

Just a nice gentle rolling boil stirring often enough to keep everything from sticking. 

The next morning repeat.  

At noon repeat this process. See how the large chunks of fruit are starting to break down and the juices to thicken. 

That night repeat for the 4th cooking time. Now let it cool and put the lid on it. It should be nice and thick by this time and swimming with chunks of fresh fruit. 

The next morning I heat it back to boiling and let it boil for about 5 minutes stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Then I placed it in hot jars, wiped the lips of the jars to make sure there are no preserves on them and put on hot lids and rings. I placed my jars back in the hot water canner that I had warmed my jars in. Put the lid on the canner and bring it back to a boil and let my jars process in the hot water canner for about 15 minutes. Remove the jars and let cool until the jars seal. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator or eat immediately. 

As the peaches continue to ripen I hope to make several more batches of these preserves. My family love the taste and they make great peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

Well another Friday has rolled around. We are picking corn today for the freezer and bagging peppers for the freezer. I hope to see everyone on Monday if the " Good Lords willing and the creek don't rise".

Blessing from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tomato Porn

Each year I get emails and comments from readers lamenting of failed crops and asking what they have done wrong. I wanted to do a post about crops. Many years my trees are loaded with beautiful blooms come spring. The bees are buzzing and all is well with the world. I dream of bushels baskets overflowing with ripe fruit and mason jars of jellies, jams, preserves and pie fillings lining my pantry shelves. But with several decades of experience under my belt  and my fathers words of "don't count your chickens before they hatch" ringing in my ears. (today would have been his 85th birthday may he rest in peace). I instead  put my faith in God and wait  and hope for the best. I fret and worry when those spring late frosts knock those blooms off before they set fruit. I pray for rain when that spring turns off dry and drought spreads over the prairie. I cross my fingers when those tornadoes and spring storms blow off that young fruit. 

Have I done anything wrong? Not a thing! 

Welcome to a homestead, farmstead, farm, orchard or just gardening in the backyard. 

People... getting that produce that you have dreamed of for years is a crap shoot at best for even the most skilled of gardener.  

I've seen years when my trees just plain had a mind of their own. Look at this apple tree with apples on it ripening in the fall and blooming at the same time. This was two years ago. 

Then there is always those April and even May snowstorms to contend with.

Not to mention those winters when you have to be dug out of your driveway because the snowdrifts are so deep and you lose half of your trees to winter cold damage. 

A perfect example of this is my tomatoes this year. Most years I have tomatoes just hanging and ripe by the end of July. 

And I normally have beautiful large and ripe tomatoes to can, freeze and enjoy all of the late summer and fall.  This year we had an extremely rainy and cool spring. 

Tomatoes love heat. Tomatoes crack when it rains too much and mildew and rot. Did I do anything wrong. Not really.  And there are a whole lot of people in the same boat as I am. 

What can I do. I can pick those tomatoes while they are still green and place them on my sunny porch railing to ripen. Off the bush they absorb no rain. ( As I type this it is Wednesday and it is raining ) 

They will slowly ripen off the bush and I will salvage what I can. Do I get upset? No not really because 

a. Next year is another year.
b. I still have about 80 jars of tomato products canned in my my pantry left over from the last two years bumper crops. So for all of those who email me asking why I put up so much and can those bumper crops this is exactly why. 

 I think this is a way for God to force me to get rid of my older food in jars and he is just helping me keep my pantry current : ) I'm gonna keep telling myself that! 

And let me assure you all we will not starve or want for Food. With two full freezers and almost 1000 jars of food in my pantry not to mention what is dehydrated, still on the vine and in the garden I assure you we will not shed a single pound. 

So we will eat less spaghetti this winter and thank God for other bumper crops that he did provide us with. We will enjoy lots of fried green tomatoes as the tomatoes that are on the vine struggle to ripen in what remains of the warm weather. This is that example of "when God gives you lemons make lemonade" lecture : ) This is about the time my kids would start rolling their eyes at me so feel free because I am used to it. 

SO I will instead include some tomato porn from previous years for all of you to enjoy. 

I want all you new gardeners to read this post often because I want you to know that even the most experienced gardeners have crops fail. You cannot control everything. And everything that can go wrong more than likely will go wrong.  And above all keep trying, learn from your mistakes and keep visiting so I can share all my crop failures with you so you won't feel so bad : )

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

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