We have put up a variety of canned goods. Some of them can be seen in the photo below. I'm still trying to find a good place for my canned goods until we can do some renovating, and I hesitate to even share this photo with you now. They are being stored on some old shelves in the laundry room (a curtain hides them) as well as in a cabinet in the kitchen until we have a better solution. Included in the picture are jars of (top row from left to right) pressure canned green beans, grape jam, peach jam, and the best canned tomato salsa ever (from Simply Recipes). The bottom row (from left to right) includes garlic and herb pasta sauce, chile garlic dill pickles, pickled corn/poblano/pinto salsa (from Better Homes and Gardens- I'll post about it once we open it and try it out), crushed tomatoes, and apple wine jelly made using the recipe for muscadine wine jelly but (obviously) using homemade apple wine instead.
We recently realized that one of the grape vines that the previous owner had intended on cutting down has come back out and is loaded with Concord grapes. We had to dodge privet bushes and the like to get to them, but we did it and ended up with about ten pounds of ripe grapes. There are still more on the vine, and we will harvest them when they ripen. They are absolutely delicious, sweet, a little tart and super juicy. I used four pounds to make this Concord grape jam which is so much easier (and I think better) than jelly, and my in-laws took home two gallon size bags. We ended up with eight half-pints of jam which will last us until next fall. The chickens loved the leftover grape skins. It's so satisfying making jam with your own fruit. I usually have to buy grapes from an orchard we visit in the mountains, but not anymore.
Our project for the weekend is to pick ripe grapes from the muscadine and scuppernong vines. Those vines are growing together on the same arbor, and unfortunately into a nearby tree (a pruning project for later in the year). We will pick the ripe ones and figure out what to do with them and leave the rest to ripen over the next few weeks. I was thinking of making grape pie filling although I'm still not settled on it. If anyone has any ideas for what to do with them, I'm all ears.
Over the weekend we will also pick some of the pears off the tree by the chicken coop. The chickens have been enjoying the ones that fall (which we break open for them). Not all are ripe, but there are some that are ready, and the squirrels around here don't mind getting to them before us if we dilly dally. I was walking around the orchard the other day and a freshly half-eaten pear almost hit me on the head when it was dropped from the tree by a squirrel. They are cute, but they are pesky. They also break open the walnuts and pecans. We really hope they save some for us! I'll be doing some kind of canning project with the pears once we pick them. I'm considering either pear sauce or canned pear quarters in red hot syrup. I'll keep you posted on what I decide. For now, we're enjoying just eating them out of hand. They are crisp and juicy. All of the fruit trees and vines on our property have been neglected for years, but now that we own them, we hope to remedy that. With a good pruning later in the year, we hope all of our trees and vines will be better producers (and be healthier) going into next year.
So, that's what's been happening around here. My plan for today (since it's not raining) is to mow and check in on the bees. There's always something to do around here, and I'm loving it!