Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Garden to Bed, Back in the Kitchen

I have to admit that I breathed a sigh of relief when we finally had a killing frost this year. I was ready to tear out the tomatoes and cucumbers and green beans. Most summertime plants are looking pretty sad by the time fall rolls around - powdery mildew on the cucumbers, the pumpkin vines have died back, and even the sunflowers start looking weather-beaten.

Note to self: tomatoes don't ripen well here after Labor Day - must tear out tomato vines sooner. That's another crucial point I'm just starting to realize - certain plants have their peak and then start on a slow decline. The flavor and texture of late-ripening tomatoes is profoundly inferior to those ripening in the heat of summer.

The garden is not completely barren yet - I still have two plantings of huge Swiss chard and a planting of parsley so large that it resembles a shrubbery (a nice one, not too expensive). Both are very tasty, but somewhat overwhelming. I extend my gratitude to friends and family who have been pruning back the chard forest!

Apple cider boiled down into syrup
Because the gardening season is cycling into hibernation mode, I'm moving my efforts indoors into the kitchen. I've got a new venture for this transition into winter - I'm trying out a food preserving challenge called Can It Up!

Each month, our lovely host Hima at All Four Burners blog will post one ingredient which we should make into some sort of food that can be put in a canning jar and boiled in a pot of water.

For October, the ingredient was APPLES, so I made boiled cider, which is exactly what it's named. You press fresh cider at your parents' house with your sister's apple press, have your dad drive the cider to your house (because you forgot to take it home with you), and then you put the cider in a pot and boil it until it becomes thick and syrupy.

I did put these jars into a water bath for canning (boiled 10 minutes for quarter-pints - as estimated from somewhat similar jelly recipes), but most recipes I found for boiled cider recommended just storing it in the fridge for a few months.

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