canning tomatoes

Smokey

Saturday I awoke to a yellow, glowing hazy outside. The light was very weird, abnormal, and I couldn’t figure out why until I went outside. Then I realized it was all the wildfires in Oregon. Apparently the wind shifted and Portland was engulfed in a haze. It was gross, smelly and hard for me to breathe. Thankfully I already had plans to go to the gym and not try to run outside or go for a hike. I don’t see hiking in the future until the air quality clears up.

It was the first time I was back at lifting weights since my back injury. I took it easy and focused on things like shoulders, triceps and core instead of my back. I was back at doing my PT exercises and glute/core work. It felt good to do it again. Then I did a walk/run on the treadmill. First run since my 5k! I felt pretty good and did 2.5 miles.

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I burned 559 calories, went home to clean up and have lunch (leftover turkey enchiladas I made). Saturday I spent most of the day inside to avoid the smoke!

Saturday evening we went to a friend’s house for dinner. It was so good to see them! And to get out of the house and be social. After my back stuff I kind of hid in the house for awhile. I was tired, feeling wounded and a little bit mopey I think. I didn’t do much socializing (aside from our parents visiting) so once I was starting to feel more like myself I was glad to see some friends.

They made delicious margaritas from scratch (limeade, rhubarb compote, simple syrup, lime verbena juice and ice). So delicious and refreshing!! Mine was a virgin because me and Tequila AIN’T friends. No thank you!

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Dinner was grilled chicken, corn on the cob and a delicious salad with greens, mint, feta, onions and watermelon.

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For dessert they made root beer floats with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. What a treat! I can’t remember the last time I had a root beer float…

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It was a fun night. The kids are getting so big.

Sunday

Michael made french toast for breakfast. It was quite a treat. I hadn’t had french toast in I don’t know how long…at least a year. I’ve been craving it recently and Michael kindly satisfied my craving. He made the fabulous Martha Stewart recipe (it’s a winner for sure).

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After breakfast I went to the gym. It was too late for yoga class and honestly I was a bit too sore for it I think. Those jump squats always do me in. I was so sore (hamstrings) from Saturday’s workout. Instead I used the elliptical for a mild workout.

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Sometimes doing something like the elliptical can help loosen up the sore muscles. Time will tell. The afternoon was spent in the kitchen working on tomatoes from the garden. I decided to can whole tomatoes. I had so many ripe ones in the garden that needed to be cooked or something. I picked a big batch and got started.

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I did a combo of romas and heirloom tomatoes. I love canning whole tomatoes because it’s super easy and fast. I boiled the tomatoes, peeled the skins in no time, cored the tomatoes and then canned them whole. The longest part of this process was the canning part. It took forever to get the water boiling and I had to do the jars in two batches because my pot wasn’t big enough.

Sunday evening we had Michael’s mom and stepdad over for dinner. It had been way too long since we saw them and I was excited to make dinner using the spaghetti sauce I made last weekend. Michael’s mom made a fantastic salad with greens, tomatoes and lemon cucumbers from their neighbor’s garden. I baked a loaf of garlic bread (my weakness).

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We did gluten free spaghetti and I cooked up my spaghetti sauce with meatballs. I was so happy with my sauce! It was delicious! Thick and flavorful and just right.

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Dessert was a little bit of a cheat. 🙂 I baked cookies.

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It was a busy weekend! But a good one. How was yours?

11 Days

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Michael and I met with the wedding coordinator and caterers at the venue. It was for the final walk-thru and planning session. It was a lovely, sunny day and we had so much fun! We figured out the placement for everything and finalized all the details. The venue was set up for another wedding and it looked similar to what we plan on doing for the layout (with a few changes). It was cool to see it set up and not just a big empty room. It made it feel more real somehow.
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I have to admit, I got a little nervous standing in the middle of the room there, imagining how it will look in a little less than two weeks with all our friends and family around us. Butterflies!

The next day, I went to the gym and did my old traditional workout. Most Saturdays I’ve been hitting the Warrior Room for my workout but this weekend the ladies were off on their bachelorette party  so the Warrior Room was closed. I got in my own kettle bell workout at my gym, did a bunch of other body weight exercises and free weights. Then I went up to the cardio room and ran on the treadmill. It wasn’t a great run. My legs felt heavy and I finally called it quits after a little over a mile.

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After that, I had a ton of kitchen stuff to do! Our garden exploded with the hot weather lately. So many jalapenos, so many tomatoes. I spent the afternoon making jalapeno jelly and then canning tomatoes. First, the peppers. I found a recipe that used a pound of jalapenos, which was good because we probably have about 6 pounds right now. And that is after we pickled half a dozen jars of them!

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I followed the instructions to the letter because this is the first time I’ve ever made jelly before and the first time I’ve ever worked with pectin. You know what else is scary? Measuring out 6 cups of sugar.

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Yikes! Slightly terrifying seeing that much sugar for a recipe! It’s a shame you can’t use sugar substitutes for stuff like this. But I know that’s a no-no when making jam.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
From: http://www.diaryofahumblechef.com/jalapeno-pepper-jelly/
Ingredients
  • ¾ to 1 pound jalapeno peppers
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 packets liquid pectin (measure out 2½ packets and have ½ packet ready to go if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon butter, if desired
Instructions
  1. Sterilize jars by running though the dishwasher or boiling in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Wash lids and rings in hot, soapy water.
  2. Combine 2½ packets liquid pectin (4 oz) with ½ cup sugar. Set aside.
  3. Rinse, deseed and rough chop the jalapeños.
  4. Puree jalapeños in a food processor or blender, adding about ¼ to ½ cup cider vinegar to smooth out.
  5. Combine jalapeño puree, remaining sugar, vinegar and butter in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly so as to prevent burning.
  6. After boiling for 10 minutes, add sugar/pectin mixture.
  7. Bring to a hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  8. Skim foam if any.
  9. Test for thickness by scooping a half a spoonful of the jelly with a cold spoon that has been resting in ice water. If it is to your desired thickness after coming to room temperature, then proceed to the next step. If not, add the remaining ½ pouch (1½ oz of pectin) to the sauce pan and bring back to a hard boil for one minute.
  10. Carefully ladle jelly into jars, leaving about ¼ inch at the top.
  11. Secure the lids and rings to the jars then add the jars to boiling water using tongs or a canning basket. Make sure there are at least two inches of boiling water covering the top of the jars.
  12. Process (boil) for 10-12 minutes.
  13. Carefully remove the jars to dishtowels to cool (you will probably need to process a couple of batches, depending on the size of your canning pot or basket).
  14. After cooling for a couple of hours or overnight, check the seals on the jars by pressing the middle of the lid. If it springs back, it is not seal properly. Refrigerate and use within a few weeks. If it doesn’t spring back, then it is sealed properly and can be stored in your pantry for 12-18 months.

I added the other 1/2 packet of the pectin like the instructions said and the consistency still wasn’t quite right. I added a little bit more, but alas, my pepper jelly wasn’t to be. 🙁  I still sealed the jars just in case it took awhile for the pectin to set?! Yeah, still didn’t. 🙁

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While the jars were cooling I got started on the tomatoes. I picked about four pounds of tomatoes and did a quick method of peeling the skin off, similar to what I did when I made the salsa a few weeks ago. I boiled it for like 30 seconds and then put the tomatoes in ice water. The skin came off so easy. Here is the tomato recipe:

RAW-PACKED TOMATOES WITH NO ADDED LIQUID

From: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/raw-packed-tomatoes-with-no-added-liquid

Ingredients

  • 3 lb whole, halved or quartered tomatoes per quart jar
  • Ball® Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
  • Salt, optional
  • (32 oz) quart or (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Instructions

  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
  2. WASH tomatoes. Dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds or until skins start to loosen and crack. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Remove cores and any bruised or discolored portions. Leave whole, halve or quarter.
  3. ADD ½ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar. Add ¼ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar.
  4. PACK raw tomatoes into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Press tomatoes into the jar until the spaces between them fill with juice leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding tomatoes. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
  5. PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 85 minutes for both pints and quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=44181

I wanted to do it this way so that I have whole tomatoes this winter to make different sauces and stuff. This was a very fast, easy way to preserve the massive amounts of tomatoes we have! It was seriously so fast and easy. I’m glad I did this recipe because if it works well when I open one of those jars in January to make homemade spaghetti sauce, I will be one happy camper. That means next summer I will most likely get the bigger jars and can more tomatoes for sauce.

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I thought it was a little weird that the tomatoes “shrank.” Anyone experienced with canning have this happen? I suppose I should have shoved as many tomatoes in as I could since they would shrink in the jar. Oh well, live and learn!

On Sunday after yoga I checked the jelly. It was better than the night before but still not set all the way. I looked around online to see what I could have done differently or what I did “wrong” and came across this website. It actually gave instructions about how to fix runny jelly. I followed the instructions the next day to see if it would work. I had about 1/2 an envelope of pectin leftover so I used that.

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And it worked! I am glad I took the extra time to fix the jelly. I added the rest of that pectin packet and resealed everything. It was a bummer I had to throw away all the lids and use new ones but I am glad I did it. The jelly set perfectly and I had a little sample…it was DELICIOUS and perfect! And spicy!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing little details for the wedding…making name cards, programs, finalizing stuff and packing things I will need that day!