Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Up and Growing

The green beans began poking above the soil last week, and have so far, been growing very well! And the deer and rabbits have left them alone, too, which has been nice. :)

I also had planted some yellow squash and zucchini seeds and those are up as well . . .

We've never grown these as a fall crop before, but since I had the seeds, I thought I would give it a try! :) We weren't able to enjoy much yellow squash or zucchini this spring before the plants died from a fungal disease, so I am really hoping that before the first frost comes, we'll be able to harvest some off of these growing plants.

Canning has been taking place in small amounts here lately, and yesterday, I canned some wild plum jelly. Or maybe it's syrup. ;) With this type of jelly, the 'sheet test' isn't used, as the jelly firms up in the jars. Last year it seemed that there was a little too much pectin used as the jelly ended up being pretty thick. So it was requested to use less pectin this time around . . . and since I had attempted to make syrup last year and didn't put any pectin in it and it still firmed up some, we thought that a half package of pectin would produce the right consistency of jelly. Well . . . this year's fruit must not have had as much natural pectin in it as in previous years because the batch I made yesterday turned out more like syrup instead of jelly! :) Since we still have quite a bit of jelly left over from last year, though, we didn't especially need this jelly, and now we have the unexpected treat of syrup for our pancakes! It will be interesting to see how it tastes. :)

Here's a little glimpse into the wild plum jelly making process . . .

Simmering plums

Before simmering, the plums needed to be crushed, and after the experiences of last year, I had a different system for this year! One, was to crush the plums outside. It made quite a mess inside last year, but as the juice is clear when fresh (and later turns brown after it dries), we hadn't realized what a mess was being made until after the crushing of the plums was all finished. Another thing learned, which relates to this, is to always wear old clothes when crushing the plums. The reason why being that while the plum juice is at first not noticeable on clothing due to it being mostly clear, after the clothing is washed, the juice turns from being clear and unnoticeable to being distinctive brown stains. (Again, this was learned from experience. :) So this year found me sitting out in the shade on our flat bed trailer listening to and watching the birds flit around in the trees as the plums were being crushed. It was rather pleasant! :)

Once the plums were crushed, had simmered, and had the juice drained from them, it was time to start the actual canning process of the jelly . . .

Stirring down the jelly while it boils for one minute

And after the canning process is complete! Seven jars of wild plum jelly/syrup :) (Plus two jars in the fridge that didn't fit in the canner.)

Out of our few pickling cucumbers we harvested this year, I also made some dill pickles . . . one of Daddy's favorite canned goods!

Summer activities are beginning to wind down as we begin to anticipate the coming fall. Lately in the early mornings, the feeling of fall is in the air . . . the grass is heavy with dew, the air has a cooler 'fallish' feel to it, and then the leaves are beginning to fall from the walnut trees as well. And we're back to having windows open in the evenings to the early mornings . . . so pleasant!


  1. We made plum jam here in England. That said, the wild plums are just about finished now (I almost wish the same could be said about our apples, we have had so many!).

    Autumn/fall is certainly coming here too. I agree; the cooler weather is pleasant and the evenings beautiful. However, summer seems to have gone by so quickly that I almost miss it.

    I enjoyed reading about your fall garden. I hope it works well for you! :) My garden is rather neglected at present... I haven't even had to water it; it has been watered by the rain! I have my winter crops of broccoli and sprouts to plant out sometime soon, amongst other things!

    In closing, I really liked your days of the week tea towels which you posted about a while back. Just out of interest, here did you get the patterns from?


  2. Hey!

    I started a free, online Christian girls magazine called Inspired. I was wondering if you were interested in subscribing or joining the staff. For more info, check out our website: www.inspiredmagazine.webs.com


  3. I've been enjoying your updates and I've enjoyed the updates on Mrs. Castlebury's blog, but it would be so nice to hear something of how Ryan and Ashley are doing... I'm sure you enjoy having her close by.

  4. Dear Sarah,

    I'm so glad that your beans are coming up (but sorry to hear about the others being eaten by the deer)~ gardening is the great gamble, isn't it?

    The plums look so beautiful; what a blessing to have fruit to preserve!

    The pickles are lovely, too~ home-canned is sooo much better than store-bought.



    p.s. Yes! We are still planning on moving to Missouri. We will probably be living by Kansas City for a while till we find our dream place in the Ozarks :).

  5. I love the colour of your jelly. It is like the prettiest jewel. I am off to plant somethings in the garden thanks to your inspiration.

  6. I am so happy to hear the news of your gardening and canning efforts. I truly regret to hear about the disappointing results of your summer garden, but I pray that the crops you plant now will be fruitful and next year's spring/summer crops will bear greater fruit. When will you begin putting up the electric fence to discourage the deer?

  7. Thank you for your comment, Anna! As always, it was wonderful to hear from you. :)
    The plum jam sounds delicious! That is wonderful that your apple trees have produced so well. Though I can understand the feeling of wishing they would stop! I remember having the same feeling last year with our green beans . . . they just kept producing and producing and producing! After it was all said and done, though, it was a blessing to harvest so many. Are you canning the apples then?

    How well I can relate to summer having gone by so quickly and that you almost miss it! I have felt the same thing this summer as well . . . it seems that the past few months have gone by in a blur. It is supposed to warm up here again for awhile so it will feel more like summer for a bit longer here. :) Though, I have to say that I am looking forward to fall, too!

    That must have been nice to not have to water your garden! I hope that your fall garden does very well for you, too.

    The patterns for the tea towels we got at a local craft store (Hobby Lobby.) They can be ordered online as well here:


    And here is the link to the pattern that we used:


    I hope that helps!

  8. Thank you for letting me know about it, Maggie! :)

  9. I am glad that you have been enjoying the posts, Anonymous! For an update on Ryan and Ashley . . . they are loving married life and are very happy together! And they’ve been busy settling into their home, getting things set-up, working out on their place, and more. From the sounds of things, they certainly have been keeping busy! :) Yes, I do enjoy having her close by!!

  10. Thank you for your sweet comment, Marqueta! It was so nice to hear from you again. :) Gardening is certainly an adventure, that’s for sure! And always a learning experience, too.

    I would agree with you, that home-canned is so much better than store-bought! It is amazing the difference.

    That is exciting that you all are still planning on moving to Missouri! I hope that everything goes very well for you and your family. And I hope that you will eventually be able to find your dream place in the Ozarks, too. :) It is beautiful down there!

  11. It does have a pretty color, Suze! And it is amazing to see how much it changes during the whole process from first the clearish, yellow color of the fruit, to light pink of the juice after it is drained off, and then eventually this brilliant red color. Jelly making is such a fun process!

    I hope that you had fun planting in your garden, and I hope that everything grows very well for you! :)

  12. Welcome to my blog, Victoria, and thank you for your kind and encouraging comment! It brought a smile to my face to read. :) The temporary electric fence is now up and running and so far it has kept out the deer! Currently, it is just around where the green bean plot is, but by next year, we are planning to have the entire garden fenced . . . thus no more problems with deer destroying everything. :) Thank you again for your comment!

  13. I love all your gardening/canning posts! I wish I could have done more of that this year.

    Wasn't it the plum jelly that you sent us last year with Ezra's gift? I was just going to say that I thought it was PERFECT! We loved it!
    I pray that your fall garden is a success! :)

  14. Thank you for your comment, Joy! And I am glad to hear that you enjoy these posts. :) Maybe next year you will have the opportunity to do more canning!

    Yes, it was plum jelly that was sent to you last year, and I am so glad to hear how much you all liked it! :)

  15. Oh Sara, it is so wonderful to be visiting your blog again! It appears like you have had a busy summer! I'm sorry to hear that your garden did not do as well this year, but it is so lovely to see you canning the fruits of your labor! Many crops in my area suffered as well due to our unusually hot summer and lack of percipitation. For instance, locally grown cucmbers and pickling cucumbers have been scarce, as well as flowering dill weed. This has made my canning quite difficult this year! But I have spent many of days recently working on my canning of many jars of pickles, pickled hot peppers, pickled garlic, beets, and marinara sauce, fruit perserves, and pepper jelly. Goodness...I'm getting carried away! Anyways, I am so looking forward to reading your post more regually!



  16. Thank you for your sweet comment, Renee! It was good to hear from you again. :) I am sorry to hear that the crops where you live have suffered so much. Like you shared, canning is more difficult when this takes place, but thankfully you were able to can all that you did! Everything sounds delicious. :) I have never heard of pepper jelly before . . . what is it and how would you use it?

    Thank you again for your comment, and I am glad to have you back and reading! :)

  17. Sarah,

    Goodness, this is going to be a long comment! Pepper jelly is quite popular in some areas of the South. It is delicious to eat on toast or a bagele for breakfast, but I often serve it with cream cheese and crackers as a snack or appetizer when getting together with guests. Spread a dab of the cream cheese on the cracker and spoon the pepper jelly on top. The cream cheese helps to cut the heat if the jelly is hot from the peppers. It is delicious. I have even used it as a spread on deli sandwiches.



    Pepper Jelly Recipe:

    1 c. bell pepper (color of your choice)
    1/4 c. fresh hot pepper (such as jalapeno - deseed)
    1 2/3 c. apple cider vinegar (12 oz)
    7 c. sugar
    6 oz. pectin (Certo)
    4 drops of food coloring (green pepper uses green color, red bell pepper uses red color)

    Mix bell pepper and hot pepper in a food processor until finely minced. Combine pepper mix, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add pectin and food coloring. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

    I believe this recipe makes about 7 or 8 half pint jars. If you prefer a more mild variation, substitute a mild pepper for the hot pepper.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing, Renee! I am looking forward to trying to make this next gardening season. :) Thank you again!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)