When Steve came home from work last night, I was in the middle of canning marinara sauce. Eighteen quarts of the best marinara sauce ever. He told me I looked good in an apron. (He seems to like the green Blimpie's apron just fine, Rebecca :) And then he told me that even though I think my life is a wreck, I really do get a lot done.
"Look at everything you have already processed this year," he said, pointing to the dozens of canned jars and bags of dried fruit, still on the counter. "You have done most of it yourself, too. I only helped you with that one batch of jam." (At three in the morning, in case you were wondering.) "And," he added, "you haven't even broken down crying yet."
"What?!?" I asked, in surprise.
"You end up crying every year," he informed me. "You get overwhelmed, start crying, and I come to your rescue."
In my defense, I have been pregnant/sick/emotional/ornery/extremely sleep deprived during quite a few harvest seasons. And then there was that year when we found out Jasmine was pregnant that I cried for two weeks straight. I guess I am a bit of a crier?
And to his credit, he is the coolest husband in the world. He really does rescue me when I get in over my head, and he is also really good at finding ways to improve our harvesting techniques.
The harvest is in full swing at the Ballard house. There are boxes of fruit ripening in the garage. The kitchen floor is perpetually sticky. And there is a constant hum coming from the overworked dehydrator.
And, I guess that I have a new goal this year: no crying.
Harvesting has somehow escalated to the point that I actually had some anxiety about it this year. The bottom line is that there is a lot of work to be done in a short amount of time. And everyone else in the world thinks that life and its demands should continue as normal: school, PTA meetings, piano lessons, church activities, etc. When I was in college, it was easier. If I got too busy processing fruit, I would just drop a class to free up more time. There just isn't anything that I can easily "drop" these days.
The motives have changed too. It used to be more of an issue that I had no control and could not turn down free produce. Now it has evolved into a burden of knowing what our family needs to get us through to the next year. In addition to a larger family that eats more food, we have all developed discriminating tastes and just can't concede to eating certain store-bought products. It was not a happy day in the Ballard house when we ran out of raspberry-peach jam a few months ago.
That being said, I am at a good place right now. I have canned enough that if something were to happen that prevented me (and Steve) from processing anything else, I would be okay. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of work to do. But the pressure has been alleviated enough that I can really enjoy the season.
So please enjoy these recipes, my favorites of the harvest.
Raspberry-Peach Jam
9 cups peaches, peeled
2 cups raspberries
9 cups sugar
2 large packages raspberry jello
Put peaches in blender and puree until smooth. Pour into large pot and add raspberries and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add raspberry jello. Stir for a few minutes. Add to jars and process in water bath for 10 minutes. Makes about 8 pints.
Costco in Ogden still has the biggest, most amazing raspberries ever. Six six-ounce baskets for $8.99. They are so huge that we have been spraying whipped cream inside of them.
Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Mix in a blender or food processor. Can easily be frozen for later use in ice cube trays. To make more economical, substitute walnuts for pine nuts, which are ridiculously expensive right now. Serve on sandwiches or with pasta. Try adding grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted pine nuts, and tomatoes.
The kids were very disappointed to find out that purple basil does not make pretty purple pesto, like we expected. Instead, it looks like this:
Vegetable Medley
3 cloves garlic
2 onions
1/2 cup olive oil
handful fresh basil, chopped
10-12 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups carrots
crookneck squash
green beans
any other fresh vegetable you happen to have (no potatoes)
(All done to taste and availability, so you can modify the quantities, as needed.)

Saute garlic and onions in olive oil. Add tomatoes and let simmer for as long as you can. Then add basil and all of the other fresh vegetables you have, chopped or sliced as you like them. Salt and pepper to taste. Does not can well, but is great frozen.
Fresh Marinara Sauce

1/2 bushel tomatoes, peeled and chopped
7-8 chopped onions
6-7 GREEN PEPPERS, chopped (After making this recipe with 6-7 green onions for years, I found out the recipe had been posted incorrectly!)
12(+) 6 oz. cans of tomato paste

5 Tbsp. oregano
1 1/2 cups fresh basil, chopped
3/4 cup oil
4 packages dry spaghetti mix
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup salt
6 cups water
Simmer for 1 hour stirring a lot, so as not to burn the bottom. Place in clean, sterilized quart jars and place in a hot waterbath for 40 mins. for quart jars.
This year, we used my new Norpro Sauce Master for the tomatoes, so we didn't have to do any blanching, coring, or chopping. I also added 20 cans of tomato paste instead of 12, like the recipe says.


Rachael said...

You are amazing! Everything is so beautiful!

Jenny said...

You and my sister in law make me tired.

I've made six batched of raspberry freezer jam and spaghetti sauce and I think I'm done. I may dry some apples, but my parents didn't get much of a crop this year.

Min said...

"The bottom line is that there is a lot of work to be done in a short amount of time. And everyone else in the world thinks that life and its demands should continue as normal." Too true. And ridiculous. I mean, what's more important than food and eating? Only breathing. And the fact that life doesn't realize that time should stop for such things is why I can't wait to ditch 'em all and live in a one-room cabin for a year canning my heart out, and making bread.

Ryanne said...

It sounds like you are in a good place right now to avoid the crying:) I am a novice canner compared to you (green beans, salsa, apple sauce) but am excited to try the marinara sauce if I get more tomatoes)!

Rebecca said...

Ok! I just finished my first ever batch of Peach-Raspberry Jam! I am so proud of myself...but I'm not sure I did it right...I wish I would have called you to come over and oversee.

emily ballard said...

Mindy: one-room homes aren't always conducive to canning and baking. We lived in one once. . . but maybe it would have helped if we had electricity.

Amanda said...

That made me tired just reading it. But vegetable medely is still one of my favorites.
Good job getting everything done. That is a lot of work my friend! The preparedness gods are proud.

MaRea Hess said...

I had to read you Harvest post after reading your last post! It made the post more amusing;). Next year just might be your year. This year the tears are justified.

Thanks for the great recipes!! I might, that is might attempt to takle the Raspberry-Peach Jam. It sounds all so, intimidating! Can you please pass on all that great cooking knowledge through iphones and into my brain;).

Aneesa Bee said...

Yummy! sorry about the explosion. I asked Aaron if he knew anyone else my age that cans as much as I do (all the OLD people around here do all the canning) and he promptly replied, "Emily does" But I'm afraid you may do a bit more. The peach raspberry jam looks very tempting (and easy--which is good because I have a really hard time with cooked jam) so I may give it a try. And do you freeze or can your pesto? I've never canned it before, but technically you should be able to, right? hope you get cleaned up. Today we're doing pear butter, spaghetti sauce, and peaches!!!

Anonymous said...

I am excited to make your Marinara Sauce, but I noticed that you don't have have acidity to it. Did you add Lemon Juice or Vinegar to the recipe