Sunday, September 22, 2013

Canning with Aunt D - Day One

     I arrived in Flint, Michigan on the evening of Wednesday August 28th. I went to bed early after talking for a while with my Aunt D and Uncle John. We had a lot of work ahead of us the next day. We were on a mission to can some vegetables and various goods. I woke up Thursday morning and my aunt showed me her garden and some of the changes she has made. This garden has grown, evolved, matured, and changed over the last few years. Every year my aunt has expanded it and changed it. This last year she has done some major renovation that any fellow gardener would admire and appreciate. She has added beds, built a fence to keep the deer out, and is in the process on making part of her garden a greenhouse. This year she says she is experimenting with seed placement and plant relationships since some plants grow better together than others. She also had Uncle John make her a "garden ruler" to help her space her seeds better.

Her sunflowers tower above me.
She shows me her squash plants which she has already picked and pruned.  

She also shows me her rain barrel and her composter.

This is where she is going to build a green house. 

These are her tomato plants

 Additionally she had peas that grew around a trellis she has on one side of her garden. She also had cucumbers and an assortment of herbs.

As I walk out of the garden I have to take one more picture of the sunflowers which still astonish me.

After we walk through her vegetable and herb garden we head to the Flint Farmers Market. All the vendors here are amazing but I only captured a few photos. There was so much visual stimuli to capture and take in!

After we get some of the items that we need to begin our canning we head back to the house to start the process. One of the first things we can is our peaches. We can the peaches in the pressure canner since they are not acidic. It is better to can non-acidic fruits and vegetables in a pressure canner if you have it available. In addition to canning our peaches we also start preparing our soup mix. As we cleaned the vegetables for the soup blend we are canning, we saved the ends of the vegetables to put together to make a vegetable soup base that we would also be canning.

The canner on the left stove burner is a regular traditional canner and the one on the right is the pressure canner. The pressure canner must be watched at all times and everything you can has a particular pressure that it must reach once the jars are in the canner and they also all have individual cook times that they stay in the canner for once that pressure is reached.

These are the peaches we canned once we were done processing all of them. I think the jars always look so pretty!

 Above is a picture of the vegetable ends we collected to make our base. Below is a picture of the soup that we processed. We cooked it down first and then put it into the jars and processed them. The vegetables included onion, garlic, celery, beans, spinach, okra, tomatoes, corn, and carrots.

 Once we collected the vegetable ends we went and picked some calendula flowers from her garden. We also added this to the soup base.

Calendula flowers boost the immune system. They prevent inflammation and infection, including viral infections. They also ease cramping and hot flashes.

Once the broth has finished cooking down and boiling for quite some time we process it. Here is what the strained and processed final product looks like. 

In addition to processing our peaches, vegetable soup mix, and vegetable soup base we spent hours cleaning apples that my aunt received free of charge from her neighbors yard. We had several bushels of apples. When we finished for the day, after more than eight hours of work, we still had bushels to go....but that was for the next day.

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