CSA Box Week 6 and canning classes

Guess what?

My husband went to a canning class. He’s such a good sport.

We’re both highly motivated because we have a Concord grape vine in our backyard. Well, we rent so it’s not technically our vine, but it’s sitting there producing pretty purple grapes. Our first year here (two years ago) we actually tried making grape jelly on the stove. It never set, we never “sterilized” or “processed” anything and we just made an awful mess of the kitchen.

So last year we let the birds eat the bounty.

This summer I found canning classes so we decided that we’d give it another chance.  The place was offering two classes and it seemed logical that we would each get a chance to see someone can who knows what they are doing.

I asked my husband to go to the first class.

He showed up and texted me, “Hilarious, this class is me and 20 women!”

I couldn’t resist so I texted him back, “You like them odds? :)”

He responded, “Average age 55 I think not!”

Me: “Oh man! Well, you are there to learn after all! :)”

He came back actually pretty enthusiastic and proud of the jar of peach preserves he was carrying. Although my class was less hands-on, now I feel less intimidated by the process because I have seen it done. If other mere mortals can do this, then I can too.

I’ll have to keep you updated on if we are successful making grape jelly!

***

I picked up the CSA box and saw something curious…

What’s that peeking out?

It’s an hierloom tomato!

Right side up!

 

Kale, Eggplant, The Tomato, two onions, pepper

Melon, Carrots, Eggplant 

 

 Bag of lettuce, sack of tomatoes, miscellaneous peppers

Six ears of corn!

Total haul:

  • 1 hierloom tomato
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 onions
  • 4 miscellaneous peppers
  • 1 melon
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 bag of lettuce
  • 1 sack of tomatoes
  • 6 ears of corn

 

Everyone always talks about how great hierloom tomatoes taste. Well, my husband and I both agree that they are just okay. I figured they would be best fresh. I just sliced it up and we ate it raw. It tasted just “eh.” Nothing special going on there. Definitely bucking the rule there. We didn’t eat it until two days after I picked up our share. Should I have sliced it up immediately?

I made tomato sauce from scratch for the first time and it really was terrific. My husband loved it. I want to share the recipe and photos, but pictures of tomato sauce just look like barf. I don’t need pictures of barf on my blog. It was delicious barf though! (Planning on a second “recipe” blog…at some point…)

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43 Responses to CSA Box Week 6 and canning classes

  1. Rachel Tayse August 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    I have to say that heirloom looks a little underripe. You can ask the farmer what variety you have and when it should be eaten. Sometimes they pick a little early so the tomatoes travel better. An heirloom perfectly ripe from the vine is a magnificent thing.

    • Colleen August 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      I agree that it looks a bit underripe.

      • Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 1:47 am #

        Thanks for the tip!

    • Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 1:47 am #

      I hope that explains it! We were a little disappointed.

  2. Lindsey Pfeifer August 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    If you’d like more heirloom tomatoes, come up my way and I will hook you up!  We’ve pulled close to 20 pounds of tomatoes in the last 2-3 weeks! 

    I’ve been making a lot of tomato based recipes and giving away the others.  I haven’t canned yet, but I’ve been making sauce and freezing it.

    • Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 1:47 am #

      Wow! Sounds awesome!

  3. MemeGRL August 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Heirloom tomatoes are like other heirlooms–some are great, some are just ok. They are better for the planet, but do not always taste or “behave” better (making better sauce, etc.). Some will be awesome, others will be fine BLT filler!

    • Uly August 31, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

      Heirlooms are not in and of themselves better for the planet.

      Heirloom does not mean organic, and non-heirloom does not mean “grown with lots of pesticides”. Also, growing only one or two varieties of heirloom tomatoes is no better than growing one or two non-heirloom varieties.

      • kimmaroo August 31, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

        I disagree.  Growing heirloom varieties helps preserve seeds and promotes biodiversity.  It preserves  plants that have unique genetic properties.  If everyone grew the same one or two varieties, important genetic material would eventually be lost.

        • Uly September 1, 2011 at 2:03 am #

          Yes, it helps preserve biodiversity – IF everybody grows a different heirloom.

          But if we only grow one or two types of heirloom… not so much. It’s the same problem as we’ve already got, but with different varieties.

          That is, it’s not the fact that they’re older varieties of tomato (or apple, or pepper) that’s important, it’s the fact that we grow lots and lots of varieties of… whatever.

    • Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 1:48 am #

      Good to know! 🙂

  4. Alyse August 31, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    It was “eh” because it was not ripe. Next time, stick one on the window sill until it reaches the appropriate color.

  5. Michelle Oliphant August 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    what have you been doing with your peppers? We got 6 (six!!) peppers last week in our CSA and they are just chilling in the crisper. No idea.

    • Patty_mitchell August 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

      You could slice the peppers, carrots, other crips veg. and have them with dip or hummas. Or, might I suggest a quick sauté with onions and mushrooms and served with steak or chicken? Peppers also do well in a white sauce on pasta or rice, though the sauce will become a bit watery (but still edible) if kept overnight

    • Annie August 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      My favorite way to use miscellaneous peppers like those is to make fresh salsa.

    • Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 1:49 am #

      Ours are chilling in the fridge too! My husband wants to take them into work and slice them up for a sandwich. Not sure of the spice level and he loves spicy.

    • Melissa V September 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

      I take them and slice them up with onions and then place them in the freezer, works perfect for quick fajita’s or chicken tacos. We also sautee them in butter with garlic and onions then add eggs to make a yummy scramble, serve with toast, alone or in a tortilla.

  6. Julie Singer August 31, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    That tomato does look underripe.  Also, never put tomatoes in the fridge!  It destroys the flavor. Leave them out on the counter until you use them.

  7. Dorothy Ramseyer Vande Kieft August 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I have found that heirloom tomatoes, like hybrid tomatoes can be good or can be “meh”. Yours does look under-ripe, as noted by several other commenters.
    I started canning last year with the help of a friend who is a “pro” at canning. Once you learn how and have someone to maybe help you the first few times, it’s super easy after that.

    • Anonymous September 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      The tomato was “eh” — maybe it will be better next time. Regarding canning, I feel better now that I’ve seen it done!

  8. Kate August 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Congratulations to your husband on learning to can! I also can my garden produce– I learned how from a Ball canning book about three years ago. It was admittedly kind of terrifying at first, but myself, my family and my friends have all been eating my canned goods for the past few years and nobody has come down with food poisoning yet, so I must be doing something right! 🙂

    Seriously, once you get over your initial trepidation, canning is really fun. Enjoy! 

    • Anonymous September 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      The Ball book — I’m going to look for that one! Thanks!

  9. Danielle Yumol August 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    I can’t wait to hear about the canning!
    I agree with everyone about the potential under-ripe-ness of that tomato. Also, not every tomato is going to knock your socks off. Give them another chance – for years and years, I thought that I didn’t like raw tomatoes. I would pick them out of sandwiches and ignore them in general. Then I tried some heirlooms at a restaurant with only olive oil, salt, and pepper – and I was totally blown away. A tomato can taste like THAT?! No more mealy, squishy, watery messes for me. I seek out the good ones and enjoy them.
    See if your farmers market has any dry-farmed tomatoes, especially the Early Girl variety. I guess they stop watering them so much after a certain point, so the flavor is concentrated and amazing. Also, make sure you don’t put your tomatoes in the fridge. It makes them mushy.

    • Uly August 31, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

      That tomato was underripe, but that particular variety (which is very popular among heirloom sellers in NY, don’t ask me why) is very soft when ripe and doesn’t transport well. And even when ripe it’s mushy and bland.

    • Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 1:51 am #

      I’m still waiting for the blow-me-away-tomato, I guess!

  10. Uly August 31, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    There are thousands of varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Most of them taste TERRIFIC.

    That variety, which is inexplicably popular, is not one of them. Mushy and bland, right? Try getting your CSA to plant Black from Tulas next year, or Green Zebra, or Purple Cherokee.

    Also, if you’re making tomato sauce from scratch, try to use paste tomatoes. They’ll make the sauce look better.

    • kimmaroo August 31, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

      I’ve been getting Green Zebra and Purple Cherokee from a farm stand in my area and I agree that they’re both fabulous (have not seen Black from Tulas here) but here’s the catch:  tomatoes must be allowed to ripen on the vine in order to taste good.  That tomato you had, Mrs. Q, would never have reached its full flavor potential because it was picked before it was ripe.

      • Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 1:54 am #

        I’m really going to have to monitor the ripeness. I just put everything into the fridge (and I guess you’re not supposed to do that with tomatoes).

        • Uly September 1, 2011 at 2:00 am #

          NEVER PUT TOMATOES IN THE FRIDGE! THERE IS NOT ENOUGH ALL CAPS IN THE WORLD TO SAY THAT!

        • Uly September 1, 2011 at 2:01 am #

          Also: Bananas. They don’t go in the fridge either. Freezer maybe, but never the fridge. NEVER.

      • Uly September 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

        True, but I wouldn’t worry about it. That variety doesn’t have much of a flavor potential, and if you let it vine ripen it barely makes it from the yard to the kitchen without squishing all over. (Can you tell I’m not a fan yet?)

  11. Chrissy August 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Agree with everyone else, underripe, and a “meah” variety. Better luck next time! I’m glad that you are being more creative with the veggies!!

    • Anonymous September 1, 2011 at 1:53 am #

      I’m getting much more creative and it’s been really fun!

  12. Rebecca ~ Sweet Baby Yams August 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Wow, I can’t believe you got your husband to go to a canning class. Amazing!!

  13. camelia vasilescu August 31, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Hello,

    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
    We would like to add it to the Petitchef.com.
     
    We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
    enjoy your recipes.
     
    Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members
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  14. camelia vasilescu August 31, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    Hello,

    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
    We would like to add it to the Petitchef.com.
     
    We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
    enjoy your recipes.
     
    Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members
    and benefit from their exposure on Petitchef.com.
     
    To add your site to the Petitchef family you can use http://en.petitchef.com/?obj=front&action=site_ajout_form or just go to Petitchef.com and click on “Add your site”
     
    Best regards,
     
    Vincent
    petitchef.com

  15. kimmaroo August 31, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    Mrs. Q, I’ll be turning 55 next Tues.  As a parent and a teacher, you’re an important role model for your son and your students and some day, you’ll be 50-something and they’ll be 20- or 30-something.  It would be nice for you and for them if they revered and respected someone your age (and older).  And I hate to burst Mr. Q’s bubble, but 55-yr.-old women are not lusting after some turkey whose apparent emotional age is somewhere around 12.

  16. Darcie Newton September 1, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    I’m new to your blog and loving it.  I’ve tried the CSA thing and discovered at the time that I wasn’t a very spontaneous cook.  Now that I’ve challenged my family to only eat things make with ingredients they recognize, it may be time to revisit the CSA box.  BTW…I found your blog following a rabbit trail of facebook pages. 

  17. Marisa Haugen September 2, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    Last fall a local farmer sold me 20 lbs of unripe tomatoes on the cheap. They don’t ripen on the windowsill in late September in upstate NY. So I researched and tried this out, and it worked! Put them in a closed box with some apples, they will ripen up in no time!

    • Uly September 3, 2011 at 12:32 am #

      That works for many fruits, including bananas and avocados. You can put them in a paper bag too, or bruise the apples to make it work faster.

      Incidentally, for that same reason, never store apples (or any fruits) with greens. Your lettuce will last longer if you keep it in a separate bin in the fridge.

  18. May September 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    We grow our own vegetables (actually that is untrue; my parents grow vegetables. I occasionally carry watering cans to the polytunnel) and we often get really oddly-shaped tomatoes and things. A few weeks ago my three nieces and nephew came to stay and we went into the garden to harvest a whole bunch of stuff – peas, beans, tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and sweet pea flowers. Then we ate some of the tomatoes with dinner. The six year old girl was at first quite reluctant to try the weird-coloured tomatoes, which were green and brown (I’m not sure what varieties they were, but they are meant to be those colours!) but because she had picked them, she ate them and really liked the green one. There’s no better way to introduce children to healthy fresh food than to involve them in it! And it teaches them that odd shapes don’t affect the flavour either.

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