Our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen a little more now. The other night when we were in the garden we picked almost a bushel of tomatoes and put them in a small tote so they wouldn't be bruised in 5 gallon buckets. For some reason they are bruising really easy this year and will rot in no time. I did find several that had gotten mushy in the tote but still had enough to make over 5 quarts of juice. For the smaller amounts of tomatoes I usually just wash, chop and cook them to release the juice and run them thru the food mill into a clean kettle and put back on the stove to heat to boiling. Let boil for about 5 minutes and then ladle into hot jars and seal.
I had been keeping eye on my grape vines and harvesting the grape clusters as they ripened. After we have had rain for a couple days, nearly all of them were ripe today. I got them picked and washed and thought of freezing them to make jelly later. Then had another thought. Why not go ahead and make the jelly while I had a little free time. So I put the grapes in a big kettle with about a 1/4 cup water just to get them started cooking. Then retrieved the one that I had frozen earlier and tossed them in the pot. I let them simmer for about 15 minutes to extract all the juice. Then set up my jelly bag and drained the grape juice into a kettle. I had enough juice to make 3 batches of grape jelly. I made it all in one batch. You know me, I never follow the rules. The recipe was 15 cups of grape juice, 3 boxes of sure jell combine, 1 teaspoon of real butter and cook to full rolling boil. Then dump in 18 cups of sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring this to a full rolling boil for 4 minutes. The package will tell you to boil for 1 minute after it comes to this full rolling boil. But when you do multiple batches it does need to boil longer. Also you can do the "sheet test" to determine if it is ready. Take a cold metal spoon and dip in the boiling jelly and let it run off. If the drops run together on the edge of the spoon and slide off forming a sheet instead of individual drops then the jelly is done. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute or so and let the foam settle then skim this off the jelly. It wont hurt the jelly but just looks nicer. Ladle into hot jars and seal. I don't do the boiling water bath. The jelly temp is higher than the boiling point of water, so to me putting them in a boiling water bath just cools the jars down quicker. Just make sure everything is really clean when you start and there should be no problems.
It was nice working out in the summer kitchen today with the nice thunderstorms that rolled thru our area. We got a good deal of rain from all the noise too. We didn't try to go to the garden this evening after it had rained. But tomorrow we really will have to go even if its mud knee deep. I know there will be beans to pick, and prolly PEPH peas, and maters. Last time we were in the garden Rodger got the tobacco worm beans staked. Maybe I can get some pics so ya can see how we use river canes to stake them up. River cane is very much like bamboo only smaller. Cane poles are much sought after in Appalachia for staking beans in the garden.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.