Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Relief from the Heat

It looks like this hot spell is finally going to break! After being in an excessive heat warning just about every day since around the beginning of July, and after having our hottest day of the year yesterday with the temperature reaching 107 and the heat index 111 (though we did have hotter heat indexes in July), cooler weather is finally on the way. At least the forecast is promising it . . . low 90's today through Friday and then 80's for the rest of the forecast! With lows in the 60's! I can hardly wait. :)

The time of day when we've been doing our evening animal chores - after the sun has set and it is a bit cooler out!

Not only has the heat made being outdoors unpleasant, it has also been really hard on our animals. Yesterday all three of our dogs were inside along with a rabbit that has been inside for about a month now, and before yesterday, either one or two dogs have been staying inside during the days. All throughout the hot spell, each day starting at around ten in the morning, we would also need to be going out regularly t
o give the animals fresh water, to spray down the rabbit pen roof to help cool their pen down, and to give ice bottles to the rabbits for them to lie up against to keep them cool. Then the next day the whole process would begin again. But now relief is on the way for which I am thankful!

The one bright spot of the garden - so far the pickling cucumber plants have managed to stay lush and green!

Hopefully the cooler weather (and possible rain) will help the garden to sta
rt producing a little more again, too. We've been watering the garden since the heat and dry spell began and most everything is still alive, but most of the plants are looking rather sad and have quit producing. I have been harvesting some tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, and a few peppers, though, and this week I was able to do some canning which was fun. Dill pickles on Monday, Salsa and Sweet Cucumber Relish on Tuesday, and today, whole tomatoes. Tomorrow I think I'll be doing more pickles and then Friday canning the carrots.

Canning (and doing other types of food preservation) is one of my favorite things about summer . . . it is always so satisfying to pull the finished jars out of the canner and then to see our shelves filling up with jars of produce from our garden!

Some of what was canned this week so far

Has anyone else been doing canning this summer? If so, what things have begun filling up your pantry shelves?

25 comments:

  1. You have been busy with your produce Sarah.
    Although we have had very hot days here, we now have a day of pouring rain, with storms forecast, so there won't be much gardening done!

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  2. I'm so glad to hear things are cooling down for you Sarah. We complain bitterly about our weather here in Northern Ireland but I'm afraid I could not handle the temps you have been experiencing. Maybe it's time to count my blessings!!!!!! No canning or jam making this year for me. I had a poor crop of raspberries & I had to plant new strawberries which have yet to produce fruit!!!! Our vegetables got a real battering with the bad weather we had so we salvaged very litle this year but I have been busy making some things for a coffee morning we are hosting at our Church come October ~ the proceeds are going to a cancer charity in memory of the wife of one of our Pastors from a sister Church who dies earlier this year so I have not been idle !!! I will post about it soon lovereading your blog as usuual x

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  3. I'm so glad things are cooling off for you! Now could you please send them down here? Our record high was Tuesday with the temperature reaching 113 not counting the heat index!!!! I've never seen heat like this before. The weather is still predicting temperatures in the 100's, but it is supposed to be a little lower - only 104. :)

    Enjoy the cooler weather!! :)

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  4. Wow you are industrious and keen to preserve in such heat. I thoroughly understand how the hot weather saps so much out of everything. I dread out summer and am enjoying our winter while it lasts.

    Day after hot day means even our house gets hot. Hot nights mean that sleep is not refreshing. I feel for you.

    I have yet to plant a real vege garden but our compost heap brings interesting prizes. Lately we have had pumpkins and tomatoes. Some tomatoes are made into a relish. Mum has also made dad many jars of this beloved lemon butter. Our herbs have done so well this winter. But now I need to find a cool spot for the summer as basil and parsley soon give up in the heat.

    How is the baby coping with the heat?

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  5. I'm looking forward to some relief from the heat too. We are getting a little much needed rain right now for which we are so thankful as everything is dried up. I've been canning, tomatoes, salsa, and bread and butter pickles this week. I froze all the corn. The heat has taken its toll on the garden.
    Blessings to you,

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  6. how do you keep your dill pickles from getting mushy? I try each year with the same yucky results. Thank goodness ya'll are getting some relief from the heat! Here in North Texas we are still expecting 108 + temperatures for the next week

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  7. Hi Sarah,

    Glad to hear that the heat is going to be breaking for you soon. I know here in PA we had some awful heat but nothing like what you guys had.

    I've been meaning to try canning but never have had enough produce to get started. Hopefully with the new garden we are putting in next year that will happen.

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  8. Praise God, for the relief from the heat. We hit record highs on both Monday and Tuesday with temps hitting 109 on Monday and 112 on Tuesday. That doesn't include the heat index!

    We harvested 108 lbs. of tomatoes in a weeks time, so we had a lot of canning to do. I also had to pull a couple of our plants because they got too big to get to. We ended up with 16 lbs. of green tomatoes. So far, we have canned 11 quarts of spaghetti sauce, 8 quarts of green tomato salsa, and 12 quarts of salsa. Earlier in the season we harvested 300 lbs. of potatoes. Once they were cured, we cut and dehydrated about 1/4 of them for future use and put the rest in storage. We also cured 20 lbs. of onions and canned a LOT of strawberry jam. We were blessed with a lot of zucchini and dehydrated about 100 of them to throw in soups and sauces as well as shredded and froze several dozen for cakes, breads and muffins.

    I am happy with the turnout of our garden, but our corn and melons have been struggling in the heat and the beetles devoured our cucumbers. We have replanted cucumbers and so far they look great.

    I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago and have been very encouraged by it. God bless.

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  9. It sounds like it has been very hot for you Sarah – I can't imagine temperatures like that (I melt under temperatures of 30°C/86°F). Needless to say, I am very glad the temperatures are cooling down for you all now! I hope you get some rain too and that your garden perks up.

    I haven't done any preserving yet this summer, but my older sister has made some jams and chutney. Other than that, I am beginning to discover that courgette plants can produce very prolifically... which is exciting for me!

    Blessings,
    Anna

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  10. The only thing I've canned so far is excess spaghetti sauce I made for a wedding. 27 quarts. It felt really good to get that accomplished.

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  11. Enjoy your rain, Elizabeth! We are getting rain today as well which we are so thankful for as we needed it badly. I hope that it cools off soon for you and that the rain will help your garden!

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  12. I would imagine that your all’s weather in Ireland would be rather different than what we experience here, Marie!

    I am sorry to hear that your raspberries didn’t produce well for you, but hopefully your new strawberries will. And I am also sorry to hear about your garden . . . that is one thing with gardening, we can do our part with keeping down weeds, watering, etc., but we cannot control the weather. At least you were able to get some produce from it!

    Your coffee morning sounds delightful! And what a blessing to use the proceeds to bless others. I am sure your servant heart as you work to help aid this effort is a great blessing to others. I look forward to seeing your post about it!

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  13. If I could, I would be more than happy to send some of our cooler temperatures down your way, Miss Sarah! Wow, it got hot where you live. This has been quite the summer hasn’t it? I’m sure you will enjoy your ‘cool down’ to 104. ;) It’s interesting how perspective can change! For us, mid- to upper 90’s started looking really good. But the 80’s we're having now are even better!

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  14. Thank you for your kind comment, Suze! It is interesting how the heat seems to just sap so much out of everything. Even for people, just being outdoors for a short period of time seems to be a drain on one’s energy. The cooler weather we are experiencing now makes all the difference! And it really helps that we had a good rain today, too.

    How fun to find ‘surprises’ in your compost heap! It sounds like you are turning them into some good things. I have never heard of lemon butter before . . . I’ll have to look it up and see what it is. I hope that you are able to find a cool spot for your basil and parsley so that they continue to produce for you!

    Adelyn is doing well with the heat . . . they have two window air units in their house so it stays nice and cool!

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  15. I hope you all have some relief from the heat now and have gotten some rain, too, Miss Anne! It looks like parts of southern Missouri got quite a bit of rain yesterday. And now today we got some up here!

    It sounds like you have been staying busy with your canning. And that must be nice to have corn to put up in the freezer as well! Yes, the heat really has taken a toll on the garden . . . we’re hoping that the cooler weather and rain will help things bounce back. And hopefully that will be the case with your garden as well!

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  16. Good question, Melissa! And I am not really sure as I don’t have much dill pickle making experience. :) The recipe that I use is for fresh pack dills . . . the cucmbers are packed in jars, and then have a simmering spiced water mixture added to them. After removing the air bubbles, putting on the lids and rings, the jars go into the canner to be processed for 15 minutes. The Ball canning book that I use the recipe from says that for fresh packed dills you are to start counting the processing time as soon as the jars are lowered into the water and to not wait until the water begins to boil. It says that this is to prevent them from becoming mushy. Since our stove takes awhile to get the canner to a boil, I give it an extra few minutes before starting the timer for 15 minutes. The water usually begins boiling then when the timer is at around 10 minutes. Is that similar to your method? If not, maybe doing it this way would help prevent the mushiness. If you would like the recipe for these dills, just let me know and I would be happy to share it with you!

    My, it’s hot where you live, too. I hope that it cools off soon for you!

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  17. We’re glad for a break from the heat, Ed, and thankful for the rain that we got today as well! If you do try canning next year, hopefully it will go well for you. It can be a lot of fun!

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  18. Welcome to my blog, roefam95, and thank you for your comment! It certainly has been hot where you live, too. Hopefully you will be getting cooler weather soon as well!

    I enjoyed reading about all of the produce you put up. You must have been busy this past month! That is a lot of produce to process! Hearing about it inspires me all the more to do more canning. I can just imagine how nice it would be to have that much produce stored away. That’s interesting about how you dehydrate zucchini and potatoes. How do you go about using them in your recipes then? Do you re-hydrate them before using? Dehydrating vegetables is something we are just starting to do, so hearing about your doing this was added inspiration!

    We lost our first three or four plantings of cucumbers to the cucumber beetles as well. It's amazing how much damage those little beetles can do!

    Once again, thank you for your comment on my blog and for your kind words. I am glad that you have been enjoying your visits here!

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  19. It has been hot, Anna! Unbearably so at times. Needless to say, we are very thankful for the cooler weather that we are having now! It has been so pleasant to be able to go out in the mornings and evenings and not get all sweaty, and even in the afternoon it isn’t too bad. And to make things even better, we finally got rain today! Quite a bit of it actually, and I am sure the garden, trees and grass are appreciative of it. Everything looks so fresh outdoors now!

    Jams and chutney sound good . . . though I have to say, I don’t know what a courgette plant is! I’m glad that it is producing so well for you, though. :)

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  20. That is a lot of spaghetti sauce, Elizabeth! I am sure it did feel really good to finish with that. I have never canned spaghetti sauce before, but if we end up with an excess of tomatoes, I would like to give it a try.

    By the way, welcome to my blog, and thank you for leaving a comment!

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  21. Sarah,
    Your blog is such a sweet blessing. I am glad to hear that the weather near you will start to cool off soon. Our garden is growing well, but the weeds are growing right along with it! I have canned only some triple berry jam so far, but nothing else. We will have to start canning tomatoes soon. We usually do salsa, stewed tomatoes, pasta sauce and tomato juice. What do you generally do with the whole tomatoes that you can?
    God bless you, Sarah!
    Rachel Grace

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  22. Thank you for your sweet comment, Rachel Grace! It was so nice to see one from you here. :) I am glad to hear that your garden is growing well, and I can relate to weeds growing right along with it. It’s amazing how quickly they grow! This year I have discovered the gardener’s best friend . . . a hoe! It works wonders to help reduce the weed population quickly.

    Your triple berry jam sounds delicious! And I hope that the rest of your canning goes well. The whole tomatoes that I can generally go into soups and chilies. We run them through the blender for a bit when we are ready to use them and then just put them in the soup. It’s pretty simple and it works well!

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  23. I love to see all your freshly canned items!

    We have finally had relief from our 112 degree weather! We got rain several days in a row, which we were all so thankful for.

    Are you going to plant a fall garden this year?

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  24. Thank you for your sweet comment, Joy! And I am so glad that you all have some relief from the heat and that you got some rain now. Hopefully that trend will continue!

    Yes, I am planning on planting a fall garden this year, and hope to get started on it next week!

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  25. I'm so thankful for the cooler weather as well! :o) It's so pleasant. All your canning looks wonderful! I love canning as well. Sadly this year I wasn't able to can anything from our garden as it went back into the earth when my back went out. Thankfully there is a family own fruit/vege stand that I am able to go to close by that has very decent prices on food so I have been canning beans - pinto's, black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, great northern white beans, applesauce, peaches, tomatoes, learning how to make our own spaghetti sauce, tomatoe basil soup and salsa. It's so nice see everything line the shelves! :o)

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