It must be fall. The smell of ripe plums permeates the air when you open the door and walk outside. The apples are ripe. The garden experienced its first freeze. Harvest season is here!
Around the farm, September and October are my busiest months dealing with putting up food. The plums and apples are ripe, and we have plenty of trees to pick.
Additionally, a kind widow from church let us come and pick her pear, apple, crabapple, and plum trees. We’ve picked twice, and our kitchen has been overflowing with fall fruit for over a week now!
Here’s what I’ve been doing, and what I plan to do to finish putting up the harvest and preserve it for later. We’ll all be thankful for the delicious options come winter!
My Amazing Steam Juicer
A few years ago, Bryan’s Grandma gave me a wonderful gift–her steam juicer. I’ve used it over the years, but never to the extent that I have this year.
It makes processing fruit a breeze. I wash the fruit and throw it into the top section of the juicer. I do make sure there aren’t any leaves, but I don’t have to worry about peeling or seeding anything.
The bottom portion of the steamer is filled with water. Once the parts are all together, I put the lid on and turn the burner onto medium-high. Once steam starts coming out, I set the timer for an hour.
After the steaming is done, I’m left with two great products. The first is juice.
The second is this squishy leftover stuff. It’s not pretty to look at:
But, once I run it through a food mill it turns into our beautiful applesauce (or pearsauce or plumsauce…)
Another present from Grandma, our dehydrator has been running almost nonstop for a week. In addition to just slicing and dehydrating fruit, I’m slathering our sauce from the juicer leftovers onto my lined trays.
After dehydrating for twelve hours or so, it turns into tasty sugar free fruit leather. The kids love it!
Here are some of the apple rings we’ve also made in the dehydrator:
I’ve made a lot of jam with my mom over the years, but prior to this year I’d never attempted jelly. It just seemed like too much work, having to push cooked fruit through a cheesecloth.
Then I realized that you did that to make juice. With my juicer, I’d already tackled the hardest part of jelly making! Since this realization, I’ve made several batches of jelly. We’ve had crabapple, plum, and pear. This week I’ll be tackling apple.
I do want to try to make a lower sugar jelly, so I need to pick up a different sort of pectin the next time I’m at the grocery store.
Not all of my jelly turned out. The plums were too soft to make gel with a single pack of pectin, so my first batch didn’t set up. Jayme had the brilliant idea to just save it as it was and use it as ice cream sauce or pancake syrup. I like the way her brain works!
We’ll be doing the same thing with my pear jelly, since it didn’t set up either.
Otherwise, all of the jelly set up, and I’m excited to have it in the pantry! I envision making several more batches before we make it through all of the produce.
We still need to pick our apples–I’m waiting until my kitchen gets a bit more space back before I bring in more baskets of fruit!
How’s Your Harvest Going This Year?
Are you making lots of jams or jellies, or something different with your produce? I’d love to have you share what you’ve been up to in the comments!