Monday, November 22, 2010

Scary Busy!

I am not dead, just scary busy right now. It seems like for the first time ever, I was ahead of the holiday game. I had all my plans for my holiday crafting picked out, and most of the people on my list had presents already assigned. I even was starting to cut out all the pieces and getting ahead at sewing on some of the projects. Then the plans had to fly out the window. Our current place that we live in was under a month to month lease as the owner did not want to enter into another year long lease term. This resulted in us now having to move as they have sold the place. It is really sad for me as I really enjoy living here. I love the unit we are in and have made some good acquaintances here as well. It seems like I was finally in the groove of exercise, and a daily routine as well as feeling fully comfortable in the neighborhood. Since this time of year is not the best to move, one option may have to be leaving the neighborhood. We hope to not have to, but we may. I will let you know as soon as I do when we have a new home for Fabulous Pants. Till then, most of my time is spent working on finding new digs for us as well as making moving plans. I hope to keep on schedule with the holiday crafting!

Until then, I have become rather obsessed with this new type of bread from the Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart. The bread here is the second day, baking day, for the many seed bread in this book. I have been steadily loosing the weight I have been striving to shed, and I recently read some studies that people eating more whole grains and seeds are better able to lose and maintain a healthy weight. I decided to try to put aside the most wonderful white bread from this book and move onto this bread. I was worried at first that it would be too many seeds as it is many seed bread. The seeds were just the right amount and super tasty.

The seeds give the bread great texture. The best addition to this was the awesome nuttiness of the added pumpkin seeds. I love how these tasted in the bread, but the seeds are really expensive! I should really look for them in a Mexican grocery store to see if they are any cheaper. This year I saved my seeds from the pumpkin carving, and I hope to shell them once things calm down to use in the bread.

One of the best and yet worst things I found out about this bread is the awesomeness of it toasted with a smear of Nutella! It is so great! I have tried to resist the urge as Nutella has quite a few more calories than I would like to spend in the morning. It is also exceptional with blood orange marmalade. I have actually decided to stop making standard orange marmalade in favor of the blood orange variety. Thanks so much to my friend for introducing me to that tasty treat.

Well there is so much I need to get done in preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. There is jogging to be done, vegetable stock to be made, chestnuts to be roasted, house to be cleaned, velvet wreaths to be finished (finally!), and a birthday present for my niece to be made in time for sending out. Look for more updates soon. I promise to not take a month off again if I can help it. Things just were so crazy and there was so little time. I promise to carve out more to show off what I am up to. Tune in soon for some more canning notes and a killer desert recipe in the next few days.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mincemeat Minus the Meat

On Monday this week I went in for my first attempt at a mock mincemeat recipe. Mincemeat was something we got to have at Thanksgiving around our house. It was made out of the green tomatoes that were left over from the summer. It was a wonderful filling for a pie; green tomatoes that should not be wasted combined with dried fruits, lots of spices, sugar, and some suet. Since I could not find green tomatoes last year at our usual market, I made plans to make this pear version of mincemeat. After my canning plans were made, I ended up finding lots of green tomatoes at another market I have started to attend, but I thought I should stick to the pear plan.

One of the big advantages of doing this recipe is the lack of suet. Suet is a beef fat that would take the recipe into the realm of pressure canning, which, for now is not an option due to my lack of a pressure canner. Another added benefit was the use of pears. Some people love mincemeat until they find out it is made from tomatoes. I know there are tomato sensitive people out there, so this is much more crowd friendly. The dried fruits I used in this recipe were currents, golden raisins I dried in the dehydrator here, and some dried apricots that I finely chopped up. It made me feel all warm and excited for the family fruitcake this winter!

Next went in the spices. The recipe I used from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving called for cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger. I debated exchanging the nutmeg for already ground mace, but I stuck with the nutmeg. I thought I should try the recipe as is for one year and then start tweaking. This recipe also called for brown sugar rather than a white sugar. This seemed to lend a nice warmth to the mincemeat. It smelled just like the holidays around the house.

Next came the peeled, cored, and cut pears. This took what seemed like forever. I wanted to make sure the pieces of pear were not too big as I will be making this into mini-pies for the two of us. Big fruit does not work that well in mini-pies. It works even less in the pocket pie mold I got from a kitchen store. After the pears were folded in, it was time to cook the mixture down. It made the house smell even better. This was one of the first recipes I have made for canning that I could not help but taste periodically during the cooking.

The taste was rich and layered. Everything a person looks for in holiday cooking was in that pot. I cooked it all down until it was a pretty solid mix with little liquid. From there I went to the canning process, and after 20 minutes in the water bath, I had four pint jars ready for pies, tarts, or pocket pies later this year. I am so excited by this recipe and cannot wait to crack a jar open. I decided to hide them in the pantry hoping that out of sight out of mind will work. I think that I will make up one of the mini-pies for a change of pace this year at Thanksgiving along with the usual pumpkin pie that I always make.

The clouds are rolling in fast for the storms we are expecting this weekend, so I should sign off and get my walk in before it gets too nasty. Then it is time for some Christmas gift making... yes you heard right. I am starting extra early this year in the hopes to get done in a sane and happy manner. Today is some experimentation with the computerized cutter in the hopes that a couple of projects will be easier with out having to cut all the parts by hand.... ah the wonders of technology. Well off to walk, craft, and cook.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jars of Sunshine

Sorry for the radio silence on the blog as of late. I have been super busy with commitments and blogging has not fit into the schedule as I had hoped. The seasons have drastically changed here. We went from a super chilly summer into a couple of short lived heat waves after summer was officially over. Then, the temperatures around here dropped like a rock and the rains returned to the San Francisco Bay area. This weekend is supposed to be rainy just like last weekend. This rainy weather is not met with worry though as I have jars of sunshine to get me through the winter months.

A while back, one of my acquaintances blogged about buying a house and acquiring a new lemon tree. She was looking for things to do with all the lemons. She also was looking for some canning lessons. I traded her canning lessons for some lemons, and out of the trade came not only a great friendship, but also these awesome jars of strawberry lemonade concentrate. She had made some of this as well, so I had her notes to go off of for tweaking mine. I used the Ball book that I have for a recipe, and she got her's off of the internet somewhere. In her recipe, she said that the concentrate ended up being way too sweet even when watered down. This was good to know, so I cut my sugar levels by quite a bit. I like lemonade to be a bit sweet but not cloying by any means. I also strained my strawberry pulp, as Dan is not a big fan of the seeds in strawberries. This extra step took quite a while and also cut the yield I had on strawberry pulp by a bit.

I ended up with four pints, one from Dreah and three of my own, to take me through the winter. I had a little left over that I placed in the fridge and recently got out to test. It was quite good. The mix of the different types of Meyer lemon and regular lemons made for an interesting lemon flavor that was not too harsh. The strawberry flavor was a nice enhancer but was also not overwhelming. The sugar being cut down was also a good move as it was just the right amount of sweetness for me, and if someone else wants it more sweet, they can always add more to their glass. I think this could also be great as a daiquiri or margarita base if one wanted to use it that way or it could be cut with lemon lime soda or club soda as the Ball book suggests. Needless to say, I will be trying to get more lemons from my friend next year to make this one again! Now off to work on those perplexing socks I am trying.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pumpkin Butter - First Attempt

One of the things that I used to really love about fall in central Illinois was the trips to the local apple orchard. When we were there, we would always pick up jars of their apple butter as well as a jar or two of pumpkin butter. For a birthday gift for Dan one year I even had it shipped out here for him - a much too expensive solution for our long term pumpkin butter needs. I decided to try my hand at it this year. Since it was a spur of the moment decision, I used canned pumpkin rather than doing it from scratch. From scratch is definitely a future goal.

I guesstimated out how much of the spices and sugar to use. In the end, it was not enough for our liking. Once I have the recipe down, I will share it with you all. I think that more sugar would have made this batch much better. As it was, the pumpkin flavor was good but not sweet enough for a butter. The cloves and cinnamon amounts seemed correct but having to use powdered ginger over fresh was also a big disadvantage. I am also contemplating replacing the fresh ground nutmeg with some mace to kick up the nutmeg flavor in the butter.

I mixed all the ingredients and put them into the mini-slow cooker that came with our big one. This mini slow cooker has always done a good job of keeping appetizers warm for parties, but would it actually cook down the pumpkin into a butter? We plugged it in after dinner, and I wondered how many hours it was going to take. The recipe I was working off of made it sound like this would take several hours - around 10 or so. I was wondering if this was just too long of a time or not, so I placed the lid with a vent on the mini cooker and watched a movie coming back to the pot to stir every now and then.

The mini slow cooker worked very well, actually too well. Too much of the liquid cooked off for our liking after only five hours. It made for an extremely pasty butter. I was slightly disappointed in the results and wished I would have watched the cooking better than I had. It also tasted good, but it was not an exact match for the one I was trying to mimic. A tasty first try to be sure but not the last try. I suspect that I will be making more of this during the fall and winter months.

From one can of pumpkin, I got two half pints of my butter experiment. Now I know that there are differing opinions as to water bath canning versus pressure canning, vs freezing of pumpkin purees. I decided on just freezing mine. I am very much a safer than sorry kind of person and tend to want to follow the guidelines on this kind of thing. One of the reasons they recommend only freezing pumpkin is the viscosity of the puree makes it hard for the heat to fully penetrate the jars, and with how thick this butter turned out, I believe them. Another thing that I have read is that pumpkins have a very inconsistent pH level and therefore it is hard to pin down processing times. Who knows? I not being a food scientist have decided to err on the side of caution and just freeze it.

Hopefully more experimentation will result in a recipe I like enough to share. Till then, let me know if you have any killer pumpkin butter recipes you think I should try.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Raspberry Jam - Hot and Not

One of my favorite things about going to my Uncle Glen and Aunt Chris' house when I was a kid was the raspberry bushes. Uncle Glen hosted a huge garden for the entire family on his farm, and many weekends out of the summer were spent there picking beans, sweet corn, beets, potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and apples. My favorite things, besides the gigantic pumpkins he grew for Halloween, were the raspberry bushes.

Boy do I miss those free berries! I splurged this year and decided to make some seedless raspberry jam for this year. There were raspberries on sale at the store, and I also picked up some more at the end of the day at the Farmer's market on Sunday. I washed the berries in small batches and then put them into a pot. I then heated them through and mashed them down with a potato masher. This made a raspberry slurry that exposed just how many seeds there were.

From there, I took a fine mesh sieve and pushed the raspberry puree through. This was a super time intensive but easy to do task. I was surprised that when I dumped the filtered juice and pulp into the pot for the cook up of the jam there were still some seeds present. They were super small, so I am not sure if they just happened to fit through the mesh or if I was a bit sloppy at some point and lost some seeds into the filtered juice.

I ended up with four cups of juice. I added three cups of sugar and the juice of a lemon to preserve the color of the raspberries into the cooking pot. I learned when doing this jam that it reached a solid jam state two degrees sooner than my usual jams. I am wondering if I would have pulled the cherry earlier if it would have turned out. Perhaps I just cooked that jam too much which turned it into the odd texture it is.

I ended up with three jars of jam. I put crushed red pepper into one of the jars to make a spicy and hot version of the jam. It is great for an appetizer when poured over warmed brie, baked under pastry with brie, or poured over warmed cream cheese and served with crackers. I hope that one jar of it is enough for this year. Two of the jars are plain jam, but one is going off to a friend. That leaves me one highly prized jar for myself. I am thinking about trying a recipe out of one of my canning recipe books that cuts the raspberries with apples to stretch the jam out into a bigger batch without using more berries. It sounds like an intriguing way to make this without the high cost. Things to ponder for next year, till then, I will be hiding this jar away, so I don't open it until I really need a pick me up.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Final Peaches of Summer

With the final days of summer over, I thought I would post up the last of the peach canning I did before my sister came to visit last week. The peaches still seem to be going strong here, and while I am a bit sick of eating peaches, I know that when the winter dreariness sets in I will be glad I did all this work while they were plentiful. I tried out two new recipes this yeah for the winter months.

One of the things I did was peach pie filling. Peach pie is not Dan's favorite, but I need a change from his favorites, apple and cherry, once in a while. I did three small pints of the filling. My canning books did not have a recipe for straight up peach. Most of them called for a peach and apple blend, but I wanted a peach only pie. I decided to follow the general way that the apple filling was made. One of the disadvantages of this was the lack of liquid for a starter for making the filling. With the apple pie filling, you used natural apple juice. I decided to macerate the peaches with the sugar the recipe called for and then use the juice from this as the starter. This was an okay way of doing it, although it was rather messy to fish out the peach slices from the liquid for the cooking step with the Clear-jel. Once I try out the filling, I will let you know how it all went.

Speaking of updates, a small one on the Gravenstein pie filling. It was really too nutmeg heavy when I made the pie out of the remnants from the canning pot, but when I made this last pie, it had mellowed substantially. I think I will keep that recipe as is, however I think I will choose an apple more suited for high heat cooking as the Gravensteins got very mushy for my liking.

I also made the Zesty Peach BBQ sauce out of The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I have a feeling that the five jars I made are not going to be enough for the year. I love this recipe, but I ended up tweaking it a bit in terms of heat and texture. It seems like it will be great on grilled shrimp skewers and also as a dipping sauce for this winter's fondue dinners. I already have people wanting jars of it just from my description of it to them. Sweet, spicy, and just the right amount of vinegar. Yum!

Well I am off for the Friday market. I want to get more grapes for raisins and hopefully more cucumbers for late season pickles. There are just a few more items on my canning list, and then it will be time for the Christmas crafting! Oh my! I cannot believe how fast time has moved this year. It seems like I was just writing my holiday wrap up from last year. Well off for the market.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Day of Fall

I thought I should usher in the first night of fall with an apple pie, so yesterday afternoon, I grabbed one of the jars of Gravenstein pie filling from August and went to work. I made up some pie crust quickly and chilled it while I got some housework done. From there it was as easy as pie! ;) I rolled out the dough, popped open the jar, filled the shell, topped it off, egg washed the top, cut the vents, and added some rough sugar. I thought it looked just as good as a professional pie and tasted wonderful.

Last weekend, while my sister was visiting, I found some Concord grapes at the Friday farmer's market. They were super huge in size and very juicy. I picked up five pounds, so I could make both jam as well as some juice for later this year. It was interesting seeing people taste them at the market. Some knew what they were and expected their tart and sour taste. Others thought they were some kind of black sweet table grape. They were the fun ones to watch as their lips puckered up and comments of dislike followed.

I love these grapes for jelly. Here I have placed three pounds of stemmed, rinsed grapes and a half cup of water into the big stock pot. This mixture is brought up to a boil and then reduced to a simmer for ten minutes. During this time, I use my spoon to separate the skins and their flesh. This results in the green "grapes" that you see in the picture and the purple skins tend to sink to the bottom during this. When they sink, it is easier to see which grapes still need to be separated, so go after those next.

Once the mixture has simmered for the ten minutes, it should look something like this, a bright royal purple mess. There will be skins, seeds, and some still solid pulp. All of this will go into your jelly bag or jelly strainer. I let it strain for two hours, but there was still quite a bit of juice left. I stirred the pulp down in the bag for a while until all the juice was removed from the skins and uncooked pulp.

I measured out the juice and had the four cups that I needed. My Mom's old Ball Blue book is almost always right about the weight to juice conversion as it was here. I added the three cups of sugar to the juice and started my boil. I have read in some places that it would help to let the grape juice set overnight to be able to remove the solids that contribute to crystals that can form in the jelly. I skipped this step and did not see any form when the jelly was finished. To make the jelly, cook the juice and sugar mixture to the jellying point, or eight degrees above the boiling point of water.

This jelly did not have any foam form as well, so I got four good jars of foam free grape jelly. I was rather pleased. If you find foam on your jelly, skim it off quickly and start to fill your hot, sterilized jars. Fill to a quarter inch of headspace. From there take the jars and place them into your water bath, and process the jars for 15 minutes. Once the process time is over, remove the lid from the canner, turn off the heat, and wait five minutes before removing the jars of jelly.

I finished with four jars of the darkest grape jelly. It is a beautiful purple black. I like that we now have the final store bought jam out of the house. Grape is Dan's favorite, and I had not been able to find the grapes until this year. Now, with the smaller jars, we can hopefully finish the jelly before it goes bad in the fridge. Somehow, with homemade jelly, I do not see finishing them up as a problem.

I also made some grape jelly in the way my mom made it. In the hot, sterilized quart jars, add a half cup of sugar and one cup of grapes. Then, fill the jars with boiling hot water. I did find this to cause some problems. I am not sure if my mother used less sugar or if I just did not have the water fully boiling before adding it to the jars, but my jars had some residual sugar at the bottom of the jars when filled and also after the processing time.

I think the next time I make the grape juice, I will add the sugar to the pot of boiling water and make sure it is all dissolved before adding the liquid to the jars. This will prevent the crystallized sugar from forming at the bottom of the jars like it did this time. I cannot wait for this to finally be ready. This is one of those tastes of my childhood that I miss the most. I hope that I got the sugar to grape ratio correct. I am banking on the thought that my Mom did not use the full cup of sugar that the book says you can use.

Here are the jars after just a few days. It takes a few weeks for the juice to fully be extracted from the grapes that are canned inside of the jars. Once the juice is finally dark in color, it is time to enjoy. My Mom would crack the lids open and use them to strain out the juice from the spent grape pulp and seeds. I can barely wait to see if the juice is the same. I hope it is!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pickles and Plums

The week before the steam show was not all tomatoes and savory, I did sneak in a jam for my sweet tooth. I love plum jam, and while I like red plum jam a bit better than white plum, this mixed batch turned out quite well. With the plums being $0.75 a pound, it also helps me to overlook the fact that the red plums were in the minority in this batch. I keep the peels on the plums because I like the candied feeling they give to the jam. The plums were also really juicy, so the need to macerate them for a while just did not need to happen. It helped me get much more done in a short time since I did not have much time to spare.

I did let them sit for a bit in the stock pot with the sugar to let some of the juices start to flow before I started the cook. This jam cooked up quickly, and I wished I had made a larger batch. I did temper this desire with a trip to the pantry to look over the large number of other jams that I made this year and to ask myself seriously if I would be able to eat them all this year. My answer was no, and my plan to make a second batch of plum dissolved as quickly as it solidified in my mind.

I ended up with four beautiful jars of jam. I really love the color of purple that this combination of different varieties of plums gave to the jam. I also like the size that I cut the pieces this year versus the last year. The peel pieces last year, while wonderful texture and super candied pieces of tastiness, they were just too big. The peels could become almost distracting to the rest of the jam, so this year's smaller pieces will be better I think. I will have to see when a jar finally gets cracked open.

I also made some pickles on the day that we left for the show. It was a final canning project that I could fit in the morning before our red eye flight to Iowa. I wanted to make several types of pickles this year, so that if I did not like one type I would not be stuck with lots of jars of them for the year. I decided to make a half order of a recipe from a family friend as well as a refrigerator pickle recipe that I hoped would be a good impostor for Dan's favorite commercial pickles.

The pickling cucumbers that I bought were also a great steal at $0.75 a pound. Needless to say I got some great deals that week at the Farmer's Market. For the hot processed pickles, I had to brine them for three hours with sliced onions. While the Pickle Crisp I bought said this was unnecessary, I was worried that if I did not brine the pickles that it would be missing the key ingredient of salt in the pickles. I made sure that the cucumbers and onions did not float to the top of the liquid by weighing them down with an inverted plate. As years of pickling experts will tell you, this is the perfect technique to make sure things stay where you want them to when soaking them.

I then made up the storing brine for these pickles. It was rather simple, using white sugar, white vinegar, mustard seed, and celery seeds. After simmering that up for a bit, the cucumbers and onions went into the pot to get warmed over before going into the hot jars. For once I was able to pack the jars correctly on the first try so that things were not floating all the way to the top with all sorts of liquid looking lonely at the bottom.

Next, I made up the brine for the refrigerator pickles. I did these as spears, so they would be just like the store bought version. I made up my own version of a pickling spice mix for this. It turned out rather well, and then I threw that into the vinegar, sugar, and added the specific spices to the jar that the recipe needed. The biggest thing was the garlic. We like garlic flavors, so I chopped up a bunch for the two jars. I tasted these earlier this week, and I really like them. While they are not the exact same as the store pickles, I really like them on their own.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tomato Sauce

This year I took my first stab at making my own tomato sauce. I was hoping to get this done before we left for the Labor Day trip. It seemed like a really easy process, and overall it was rather easy. It is just very time consuming in the sense that there are lots of pots that are in need of watching and occasionally stirring. The nice thing about making tomato sauce... no peeling! Peeling is not that bad of a job, but the ability to just slice the tomatoes into four sections and throw them into the pot was a great ease in the labor time for this. I started out with around 25 pounds of Roma tomatoes at the beginning.

Once all the tomatoes were sliced up, I placed them into the pot until it could not hold any more. I cooked and mashed them as much as I could, but overall it was a waiting game for them to cook down. Then, I started a second pot. As the tomato slices would cook down in the first, big stock pot, I would add some of the warmed through slices from the small pot behind the big one. Once things were in a good state of cooking down, I ran out of room in the big pot again. From there, I stated ladling out some of the cooked tomatoes into the food mill and then added some from the back pot to the front. It was really quite efficient way to cook that many tomatoes all at once. The next problem I ran into was the largest bowl in the house filling with too much tomato pulp and still having more tomatoes to run through the mill. I ended up having to pour the cooked unprocessed tomatoes into another bowl, washing out the stock pot, and then adding the milled tomato pulp to that pot.

This all seemed to be a good idea until I ran out of room in the stock pot as well. So, I ended up starting the cook down process of the tomato pulp into a nice thick sauce. As space would be made in the pot, I would add more of the milled tomato pulp to replenish the stock pot until it was all finally in there. Then, the long but thoroughly easy job of a slow simmer until the right thickness was reached on the tomato sauce took up most of the night. I ended up starting this process around three in the afternoon and ended around midnight with the cans all popping closed.

In the end, I had nine full pints of tomato sauce. I am really excited to get to try this sometime soon. It is a nice thick sauce that will lend itself well to making pasta sauces or pizza sauce. I did not place any spices or herbs into the sauce, so I can tailor it each time I want to use it for something. Now I can use the sauce for cooking in the slow cooker or making up a quick marinara or even better making a from scratch pizza.

After working with 45 pounds of tomatoes, I was glad to be done with them. I know there are many out there who did more pounds of tomatoes, and my hat is off to you. 45 pounds for the two of us seems like it is going to be more than enough to keep us in the tomato products for the year.

Today I start some more canning. Hopefully the blog can catch up with my current canning soon.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tomatoes in Jars

It looked a little like a tomato stampede when I started unpacking the bags of tomatoes in the kitchen. They were piled up on counters and even took over the top most counter top. I did, however can this batch as whole tomatoes only. It took another trip buying just as many to get to the sauce portion of the canning. These went whole into jars. I only took a few jars last year during my canning with Annie and ran out faster than I thought I would. This year, being solo, I had to make a decision as to how many cans to make up. At first, I thought about doing around five maximum, but I quickly changed my mind when I thought about Dan's homemade chili and other yummy slow cooker recipes I like to make in the fall and winter when I get busy with crafting, tutoring, and dance studio things.

All the tomatoes had to be peeled, and this year the boiling water bath worked for all but two tomatoes. Out of 10 pounds of tomatoes, I would say that two not peeling easily was true luck. I think part of the success with peeling this year was due to me not over crowding the pot with too many tomatoes. Last year when it was the two of us working, we filled the pot up pretty full with tomatoes. I was, however concerned as I ran out of ice for the water bath. It took a lot of water changes, but the tomatoes did cool down eventually. The longer time they had heated up may have also contributed to the faster peeling since I have a tendency to pull things earlier than I should.

After peeling, it was time to core them out. Dan helped out a bit with this step. I think he felt a little bad for me working with this volume of tomatoes alone. It was nice to have a helping hand get me through this stage faster than the previous ones. The process became more streamlined and assembly machine like at this point. I would peel and set down on the cutting board, he would core them, and then the prepared tomatoes would go into the bowl. I was happy to see that the tomatoes were not just red skinned but also had nice red flesh through out the whole tomato. Nothing is worse than a ripe looking tomato that turns out to be tasteless and pink in the middle.

Next the tomatoes went into the canning kettle with water for their boil. I am wondering if I just don't boil them enough the first time, if I am bad at packing jars, or if I just do not pour off enough liquid the first time when packing the jars because this year I had tomato float again. It was rather frustrating. It caused me to actually lose sleep and begin to ponder if I have a canning perfection problem.

I ended up getting up the next day to open up all the cans, repacking, and reprocessing them all. My 12 cans went down to the eight you see here. Now they are nicely packed as I want them to look, but the tomatoes may end up being more stewed rather than whole tomatoes as I did two heat processes on them. As always, I did add the extra lemon juice to make sure there was enough acid in the tomato jars to make them safe for water bath canning. Hopefully eight will be enough. ;) For now I am off to sneak more boxes of cans into the house. Then it is off to 826 for tutoring and the dance studio. When will crafting get done around here again? Not till canning season is over I suppose.