Thursday, August 16, 2012

Do not multitask...

So tonight was kind of a disaster...haha but I am learning...

So I started off the evening after a trip to Sprouts (At least I got a deal on those Alba face wipes!) and bought a ton of produce.

 This is why I wish I had a garden. But a small patio doesn't have much space after the chairs and grill are out..oh and my cute little table with a candle that we never really use. (:

So anyway I was excited about the fresh stash of fruits for canning and vegetables for cooking up with dinner!

I decided to start with the Roma tomatoes. I bought 2 pounds of them, which was about 10 small tomatoes. I want to eventually learn how to make my own salsa and my own spaghetti sauce. But not right now as I am interested in learning more about canning. So I searched online for ways to store tomatoes frozen and I found this nifty step by step instruction guide (with pictures!) where I learned how to easily peel the skin off of the tomatoes called blanching.

And this video:

I wanted to know what the end result looked like. I really liked the tip from the second video of cutting small x’s in the bottom to help get the peeling started. And this worked out wonderfully. I was a bit afraid that I was going to over blanch them or actually start to cook them. I need to learn to take more pictures of the important things. I just have the after photos:

I don’t have a tomato shark but it sounds helpful. I just cut the tomatoes in fourths sort of..and took out the seeds and the hard parts. Not sure exactly if I was supposed to remove the whitish parts too but I think I took most of those out…

And I put all of the “insides” and the peels in a bowl (As an afterthought, I would throw the peels immediately in the trash and keep the bowl full of seeds and “insides.”

I didn’t want to waste this part as it seems like it could be nutritious? So I put it in my good ol’ food mill (Which I found at a thrift store for four bucks the other day! Best thrift store purchase of the year!!!) and let my sweet Hubby do the work while I held the bowl. He thought it was kind of fun.

And this is what we got:

Yes, some of the seeds made it through and there was this foam on the top that didn’t seem to settle down even after some time and tapping it on the counter. So I stuck it in a small Tupperware and put it in the fridge. 

Not sure what I am going to do with it…but it doesn’t taste bitter like I thought it would be. And it looks like there are some layers in there. Any ideas with what to do with this? It is a tiny amount though. :( 

On to my next activity.. I pulled out the plums for making my first set of jam! I was using this recipe.

I rarely buy plums but I thought that these looked bigger than I remember them being. After much hard work of peeling these not terribly little guys with a parring knife, I had about 2 cups of chopped up plums. It equaled about 3 of my plums (Roughly a dollar's worth. Not too bad, eh?)

 And I started getting my jam on when...

....I realized that I forgot to sterilize my jars!

My previous knowledge: I'm not sure if I was wrong to do this but I didn't sterilize any of my Kerr jars after I bought them...When I opened them, the lids popped like they had been sealed and I guess I assumed that they were sterile. Probably not good to assume. 

-->Phew: Just googled it and at least Ball jars are sterile. Check out this cool experiment. So I assume that the Kerr ones are too if they are sealed when I buy them.

So I have been desperately needing lids and I live within walking distance of a Walmart. I went for the second time today and they were still out of lids..So I decided to buy the Walmart pint jars for about $7.00 for 12. BUT THEY COME WITH THE LIDS OFF. Meaning I have to sterilize them. And I have never sterilized any jars before AND MY JAM WAS ALMOST DONE. AHHHH.

This is when the trouble began.

So I googled sterilizing jars to find out the exact times and such on this website The National Center for Food Preservation. Sounds like a qualified website to me. Now here was my problem. I should have acknowledged that I wasn't going to sterilize the jars in time. And that I was making such a tiny batch, I didn't need to really can it anyway. I should at least taste some of my own jam before I store it or give it to someone.

So I overcooked my jam and when I was doing my spoon test, I noticed that the tip of the spoon was kind of a rusty color.

At first I thought that I was getting peels on the end that I had missed cutting off. And then I realized, it was burning or the sugar was caramelizing to make my beautiful lovely jam turn brown..which ever, it was unexpected. OH NOOO.

Do I turned off the heat and poured whatever I made into a tupperware:

When I last looked at it in the refrigerator, it seemed syrupy. I don't really want to look at it. I am too sad. I guess I will find out tomorrow.

After that, I decided to freeze my grapes:

I just washed them and popped them off of their vine and put them on a cookie tray/pizza tray in the freezer so that they freeze individually before I throw them into a freezer bag.

Yum. Well I am glad that my frozen grapes didn't go awry!

And then I realized since my jars were still sterilizing, I should try to make something to put it in so that I didn't just waste those 20 minutes of boiling for nothing. So I found this recipe for plum jam without pectin and I wanted to halve it since I only had 3 plums or 2 cups left. Only I thought it said plum jelly. So I was quickly chopping up my plums with the skins on in bigger than normal chunks.

It was only after I added the sugar that I realized..wait you're supposed to strain and then add sugar. Wait what?? I rechecked the recipe and say "Jam" at the top. Poop. So I added cinnamon to flavor the plums and then this is what I did next:

I'm not really sure what that utensil above is called. Anyone know?

And the liquid stuff that I ended up with turned brown again. But I don't think it was from the cinnamon. I also, have not looked at this since I put it in the fridge. At least I didn't waste a lid on it. And these jars are so big. Ah haha.

At least the plums are good. Even with the skin on. It kind of reminds me of applesauce.

Well there goes all of my plums. Into some unknown sauce/syrup/liquid. And I have mushy cinnamon ones in the fridge as well. You can't win them all.

And I ended up with lots of dishes to wash. Too bad we are out of dishwasher detergent. Or rather, since we just moved to a place with a dishwasher, we never had any in the first place. (;

But here is a homemade recipe that I want to try for making your own dishwasher detergent: Just look at the before and after pictures!

Hopefully, the dish detergent that I put in the dishwasher doesn't overflow it with suds. I put 1.5 drops  of regular dish soap along with some baking soda. And I plan on doing an extra rince cycle. After all of those mess ups, I really am too lazy to do the dishes with all of the sticky jam/jellynotquite residues on them. And note to self, never buy a giant thing of AJAX dishwasher soap again. It is not really sudsy..and it seems so much thinner than the others. More like water than soap. But it was cheap and will do for now!

PS - forgive me. I hate to proofread.

Love, Kristen

Update: My frozen grapes as of yesterday are amazing. I threw them together after freezing them like this:

They as tasty and fun to eat!

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