Preface: I wrote and clicked the publish button on this last week, but the program didn’t post it. I Had no idea until I fired it up just now and the program asked me if I wanted to recover or discard the data. I guess I need to check that kind of thing. Sorry about that. I wanted to make quick post to let y’all know that I processed another hog tonight, a 200+ pounder, and I took some pictures since people seemed a bit interested in it last time. I don’t know how well the pictures turned out and my cell phone died during the process so I didn’t capture it all, but I’ll see about making a post with whatever I can salvage over the next few days. Not this morning, this morning I’m tired and I still have some cleanup left to do when I get home. I love all the things that we find or are given to help with our food stores and grocery bills, but sometimes it would be nice if they’d show up a bit earlier in the day. This time I finished with just enough time for a shower before I had to get the kids up and I have just enough time to squeak this out while they get dressed and then we’re out the door to school. Talk to you all later, and consider yourself warned about the potentially icky pictures. PS Silly E wandered into the living room and said “so…where’s the bread you were going to make last night? I want some toast.” He’s mopping the floor right now. Heh.
I am plum tuckered out. Kaput. Dead in the water. And I’m almost done, so I can go take a nap for two or three hours, until it’s time to get up. What have I been doing that wore me out? I’ve been canning. Not normal canning though, I’ve been canning damaged tomatoes.
I got a phone call Tuesday night from a lady who is half of a couple who owns a produce stand where I like to shop. She is a sweet and kind lady but her husband thinks himself a bit of a wheeler and dealer and tries to drive a bargain. He’s not, but we humor him. Sometimes. Kind lady was calling to ask me if I’d like three large boxes of tomatoes that had fallen off the truck. I thought stolen tomatoes? but I hopped in my little cruiser and off I went to see what was up. When I got there she pointed to three pallet sized boxes of tomatoes. You know, the waist high ones that normally have things like watermelon and cantaloupe in them. They have a refrigerated panel van that they use to haul produce and their method of offloading is to hook a chain to the pallets and pull the truck forward just enough so that their fork lift can reach it. The new fire thought he’d be slick and hook the chain to the rear pallet and save himself some time. The floor of the cargo area is about 3 feet off the ground and needless to say the tomatoes didn’t appreciate sky diving without a parachute.
He might have managed to keep his job if he’d bothered to tell anyone about the problem, but he left it until the owner came in for her shift and she didn’t find it until she went to restock at close. By the time I got there the tomatoes had been sitting out in the heat for 12 hours or so and were much worse for wear. They were sitting in a puddle of tomato mush and had attracted everything that could walk, crawl or fly. There was no way my pressure canner and I could handle that much, and I didn’t really want to. I thought about it for a bit and called my hunter friend. Since deer season started here on the 15th I figured he could use some bait. He hitched up his trailer and came on over. While we were waiting I sorted though as best I could and picked out four full produce boxes to take home, I figured I could get through those before they started to turn. Then kind lady sorted out another box of blemished tomatoes from the stock in the store and threw them in too.
Usually I can get about a canner load out of a box of beefsteak type tomatoes, but since these were damaged I planned on less, and that’s what I got. I made stewed tomato/ro-tel type stuff with onions, celery, green peppers and garlic. I don’t like using damaged goods in any puree type canning, I think the potential for missing some of the not good stuff is too high. Kind lady also hung a bag of some other use today produce on my arm so between canner loads I made a peach pie, two jars worth of sliced cucumbers in brine, and Silly E shredded up zucchini to make bread. Later. The total is 19 quarts, 15 pints, and 2 quarts of the liquid left over after the jars were full. It’s pretty good in soups and stews. Oh, and what people snuck out of the pot when I wasn’t supposed to be looking. We might have gotten another quart out of that.
All told it took me about 20 hours to get these processed. Now, I will admit that I was doing other things at the same time and that slowed it down some, and that my quick power nap I stopped to take wound up lasting 5 hours, but the big time suck in this case was inspecting and cutting out the bad spots. I’m not as picky as the USDA says I should be about using damaged fruits and vegetables in canning (they say don’t do it at all), so I am die hard diligent about inspecting for and removing any damaged, bad or questionable sections. Then I blanch them to remove the skins, inspect them again, and then when I’m slicing them I make sure to cut into each and every cavity of each tomato to make sure I haven’t missed anything. I did the majority of it on my own too. Normally I have the kids help me with the chopping and cooking but when I have damaged produce I insist on doing it myself. While my daughter can do it, the boys aren’t cautious enough and besides, I needed the kids to pick up the slack around the house. They managed to keep the dishwasher and the laundry equipment running, picked up the floors and vacuumed (I know! I was shocked too), and kept themselves fed without making a bigger mess than the dogs could clean up so I’m satisfied. Cave is color blind and can’t see the red bruises on the red tomatoes so while he chopped the onions for me he couldn’t help with the tomatoes, much as he would have liked to.
I also insist on pressure canning damaged produce, even things that can be canned in a water bath. That means I don’t make jams or jellies with damaged goods because they don’t turn out well when pressure canned.