One of the things we love most about our CSA Farm is that it is hands on. We volunteer out there, we pick up our share each week at the farm, and they have a number of parties throughout the season for all to enjoy. Lyn and Juvencio really want everyone to feel like they are a part of the farm (and family) and they especially want to educate city families about farm life, what it means to run a farm, and they even desire to share the many struggles they face.
Since the day we signed up at La Finquita del Buho (Little Farm of the Owl), I have been looking forward to the annual canning party. This year they had 24 families signed up to participate. I'm not sure the full 24 showed up, however, there were lots and lots of people ranging in age from 9 months to 80+ years.
Lyn and Juvencio have a beautiful farm house plus many greenhouses and outbuildings including the structure in the picture below, which looks like a garage, but is actually half ceramic studio, half extra kitchen. By my count, we had at least 14 burners of all types going most of the day. There were brines to boil, jams and sauces to cook, lids to sterilize, and lots of filled jars to bathe. There were also at least 4 ovens going at all times sterilizing the jars. The area outside the garage was for prepping ingredients as well as some cooking. Both kitchens were overflowing with people cleaning fruits and veggies, filling jars with both veggies and brines, cooking fruits, and cleaning utensils as we went.
Below, Juvencio is a great host. He always has a smile on his face.
Some people showed up early Saturday morning to pick the freshest fruits and veggies possible for canning day. There were constantly people out in the fields picking more fruits (apples and blackberries) and vegetables for recipes. I arrived at approximately 8:45a.m. and there were already a dozen people in the fields.
The apples were mostly picked by the older kids so they could use the old cider press to make the coveted apple cider.
The kids pressed cider almost non-stop. Everyone received a jar to take home even though Luna (Lyn and Juvencio's daughter) did not really want to give any of it away. She was gently reminded that if she didn't give it away, she was going to need to drink approximately 30 jars of cider in the next few days. After that it would spoil. She finally agreed to relinquish the cider.
Below Mary Kay, the canning diva:
A list of all the goodies we made:
Some of the recipes were tweaked a little and we ended up not making the homemade tomato ketchup. Frankly I think we just ran out of time and there were a couple of other tomato recipes going.
The pickling cucumbers were plentiful and looked beautiful.
There were so many supplies. We ended up with lots of leftover jars, lids and rims. I'm sure those will all be used for Lyn and Juvencio's own canned goods collection. As we were leaving they were starting on their 75 jars of roasted tomato sauce. Living on a farm also means being able to eat from the farm through the winter.
Below: Mary Kay and Lyn, the canning experts:
The pickles were the first done.
Additional apples were picked and washed...
to be used in the apple butter recipe (so delicious, it's basically a highly concentrated form of applesauce, produced by long, slow cooking of apples with cider).
Farm owners Lyn Jacobs and Juvencio Argueta
These ladies are very proud of their handpicked eggplants. Their preserved eggplant with olive oil recipe included numerous steps and looks absolutely delicious:
For some reason I did not get any pictures of the ladies making blackberry jam. I think it was a pretty quick process once they had gone out and picked all the berries in the brambling patch on the other side of the apple orchard. This extra jar of preserves was put out on the food table to share and it was so good, people were putting it on anything they could find including homemade angel food cake.
The beet ladies were so diligent. Their recipe had been miscalculated so they had to go out in the field a second time to gather more beets for their pickled beet recipe. The pickled beets were being processed in the farmhouse kitchen.
The kids were all so cute, but also mischievous. Shortly after this picture was taken I was sprayed with a make shift squirt gun....
More mischievousness on the farm:
Once I had taken my first round of photos, very few recipes were left. I was chosen for the Jardiniere. So, apparently Jardiniere is a French word meaning gardener. In this case, the recipe for Jardiniere included lots of wonderful garden vegetables along with fresh herbs.
Below are the tarragon and thyme for my recipe:
Many of the recipes including mine came from Lyn's 'The Joy of Pickling' cookbook. Shortly after I was assigned my recipe and Lyn and I started pulling together the ingredients, two families showed up and they were assigned to work with me. This made the job a whole lot easier. We prepped zucchini, cucumber, carrots, red bell peppers, mixed hot peppers, shallots, pattypan squash, garlic and the herbs.
This mother/daughter team immediately started filling the jars with a clove of garlic, 4 peppercorns and a pinch of allspice berries.
Once the jars were filled with the spices, veggies, and herbs, they were ready for their vinegar, water and salt brine.
Sterilized lids and rims were added and while the mixture was still hot, they were processed for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Another mother/daughter team I got to work with: Laura and 9 month old Julia. One of the cutest babies I have ever laid eyes on. She is a twin. Her brother, Matthew was off having fun with Juvencio.
Green beans waiting for their brine:
Hot peppers and olive oil:
freshly picked and washed tomatoes for the hot tomato sauce:
Boiling water baths:
Finished tomato basil sauce:
Juvencio with the twins:
Once the recipes were complete, everyone got one of each canned good:
Most of the group...
I got to bring home 16 jars of goodness. They are all so beautiful.
A big bunch of zucchini went from this
Lyn wanted me to take two jars of Jardiniere so that I could send one to Joey at Oberlin.
and all I really wanted to do was open up that jar of blackberry jam and slather it all over a piece of toast.
Now I am invigorated to do some canning at home. I am dying to make some peach preserves and Michael just got done picking strawberries and blackberries from the garden that he wants made into jam... and when those big tomatoes finally turn red, they are going into a big jar of sauce, for sure!