From Red to Green

It was quite a day yesterday canning the red things from the farmers market haul. We ended up with four pints of pickled beets,

and seven pints of what I'm calling Blue Cherry Pie Filling. I didn't have enough cherries and so I supplemented with blueberries. It's pretty tasty that way.

Before I tell you what happened during that process, I wanted to tell you about this great new cherry pitter of mine. I've always used one of the individual pitters, and it's always worked well for me. I put on an audio book and pit away, which can pit out a shirt pretty quickly, and that's the pits. Hm....wonder if I can think of any other "pit" phrases to use. Usually I'm just a bottomless pit of humor when it comes to puns and other funnies. Let me pit my wits against pitter jokes. Hm. Thinking...Let's just say that cherry pie puts me into a passion pit, but cherries you know...if you eat too many, you might need to make a pit stop fairly soon. Am I putting you in the pit of despair with my humor yet?

The individual pitter I've used is the one in the image below.

And you can see what a mess it makes. It's a time-consuming and tedious process. The tedium has never bothered me as much as the mess.

So anyway...someone on one of the Facebook canning groups was raving about this one.

It's made by a company called Leifheit, and you can find it right here. You put the cherries into that hopper and then press the plunger, which pushes out the pit into the receptacle below, and then the pitted cherry rolls into the bowl. Cool, huh?

And this works really well...and fast...but you have to be a little bit careful and pay attention. A few times, some cherries rolled into the bowl before they were pitted. Also, sometimes an unpitted one would roll out of the hopper into the bowl along with one that was just pitted. When I cooked the pie filling, about half a dozen pits floated to the surface. I just fished them out. This was not a big problem, but I'll just offer it up there as a warning to your teeth.

The downside is that you still have to pull off all the stems yourself. Whaaaaaaaaaaa! You might notice a few pits in the image below. Those were pits that came out when I pulled the stem off. Those cherries went straight into the bowl.

I was able to pit all the cherries in about half the time I normally spend, and so I'm pretty happy with the new pitter. I'd still use the individual pitter for small quantities of cherries, but this one was great when you have lots to do. (It's called a "cherry stoner" online. Oregon being a legal state, I had images of cherries sitting around all chill from partying hard, and saying things like, "Wow, man. That is some righteous weed.") 

It didn't take long to make the filling, and then it processed for 30 minutes. Having made a horrific mess with apple pie filling last year, I followed the instructions to the letter and left plenty of headspace in my jars. In my experience with apple pie filling, I'd kind of fudged on the head space and the contents siphoned when I took them out of the canner (meaning, liquid flowed out of the jars from around the sealed lids). This time, I left plenty of head space and also left the jars in the canner for ten extra minutes to allow them to cool a little. Despite my precautions, those jars started to siphon as soon as I took them out of the canner. Booooo!

I had eight pints of filling, but my canner can only accommodate seven, and so I set the extra jar aside for the next batch when I processed the pickled beets. (Both the pie filling and the beets required 30 minutes in the canner.) When I had the beets going, I sat down at our breakfast bar and was checking email when I heard a sound that gave me pause. When I lifted the lid on the canner, the water was all full of cherries and blueberries. Booooo! No really, BOOOOOO! I was able to skim most of the fruit out of the water, but there was nothing I could do about the jar until the time was up. When I was able to retrieve it from the canner, I discovered the bottom had blown out of it. In over 30 years of canning, it's the first time this has ever happened.

So...no real harm done. The beets are perfect. As for the pie filling, I've read source after source after source that tells me if the lids seal, they are still safe to store at room temperature. One source went so far as to say that even if the seals fail in the future, the worst that will happen is mold. Apparently the high sugar content (or something) means that botulism is not a risk. I was instructed to remove the rings and test the seals by lifting the jars by their lids to make sure they were stuck securely. Except for one, they are. Then I carefully cleaned all the sticky stuff from the jars because apparently mold will form on the outside of the jars if I don't. Apparently, siphoning is practically unavoidable with thick contents like pie filling. Just the same, the next time I make pie filling. I'm planning to leave the jars in the canner until they're cool. So, okay. One jar for the refrigerator, six for the shelf, one for the trash, and that's a wrap on the red stuff. Today...salsa verde. I'm coming for you next, Tomatillos.

While all of that was going on, kitties were cooling their tummies on the wood floor. They are having so much fun this summer. They share their hunting conquests with one another. Sadie likes to play with hers. Smitty stands by for, um, consumption when the game is over. Yes, it's cruel, but not unusual.

Before sitting down here, I went outside to get a picture of the first sunflower. Now, looking at that image below, you might be thinking something like, wow, she's so artistic. Look at how she only caught half of that sunflower. Or you might be thinking, wow, she's a terrible photographer. Doesn't she realize she only caught half of that sunflower?

Actually, both are true, but it's the fault of the sunflower. No idea why its petals are missing on the right there, but I suspect critters with cloven hooves are the issue.

They did leave the echinacea alone, however; so for now, the deer pistol is still in the closet. (Actually, there's no pistol and no rifle either. We would never shoot an animal. Unless it was from another planet, and then, seriously, that sucker is dead. Coyotes better not show their faces either.)

So the tomatillos are itching to get cooked, and that's where I'm headed next. There might be time for quilting this afternoon after all.

14 comments from clever and witty friends:

Lisa Boyer said...

What a pit-iful post. I pit-y your readers. So...tomorrow...are we on for tomatillo jokes? That would be something!

claudia said...

I love pickled beets! My Grandmother used to grow beets and then can them. Great memory from my childhood. I have never attempted it. I just skin my beets chop them up in big chunks and roast them...so delicious! I have to temper how many I eat though...
That pie filling looks yummy! You have such adventures in canning. Last thing I ever canned was Albacore out of necessity. We had caught about 12 one time (I used to fish commercially) and the buyer wasn't buying. So instead of tossing them, my boyfriend fileted them all out and I canned them in half pints. That was the best Albacore tuna I have ever had!
I love your artistic take on that sunflower!

Debbie said...

Although my canning years are done, I never had a blow out. Sounds frightful and messy to say the least. When I did peaches, I always left plenty of headroom as they were notorious for leaking out. Your colorful jars bring back lots of summer memories and hard work! Love your addition of the blues to fill up the required amount. Good thing to remember.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I canned a lot as a kid and then on my own and never had this happen to me. Maybe there was a stray pit that shot out the bottom. I laughed out loud over the semi-sunflower! I have a number of cherished 'gifted' ones coming up all over thanks to the chippers. They so remind me of my Dad.

Brown Family said...

My Mom, Aunt and one Grandmother all canned. It was so long ago that i would not remember if t jar ever blew out. I know mom used the pressure cooker some and I was terrified of it!

I remember sunflowers on the farm. They would take over the barn yard and be taller that me! They were beautiful, but a nuisance. They would get 6 feet tall and I would get lost in them and then have to take a shower to get rid of the itch!

Dana Gaffney said...

You should thank the critters since it led to that gorgeous picture.

piecefulwendy said...

Well, you didn't disappoint; this post was another fun read. It was the pits when it came to an end (I had to, sorry)! I don't recall whether my mom and grandma ever had a blow out when canning, but I do recall their conversation of those that didn't seal. They were eaten within days, rather than put on the shelf. I think you need to make a quilt from that first sunflower picture. So pretty! That cherry pitter is sitting in my cart at the big box store; just waiting to show it to the hubs.

Ioleen said...

Great post! Sorry you had a mess to clean up but the end results are worth it. Great picture of the sunflower and the kitties.

Rosyquilter said...

As a 'canner' and a teacher, I can suggest to you that you had a blowout because the contents of the jar had cooled too much or the jar had been sitting on a cold surface before you added it to the hot water? The temp difference between the jar and the boiling water was too much for the glass? OR, the glass jar was well used and looked ok to the naked eye... but it had become flawed through the years and was ready to break no matter how careful you were. But when my students would have issues with canned tomatoes and blow out bottoms on the jars, I realized that they worked too slowly and the jar and contents were colder than the boiling water bath and bingo.. floating tomatoes!
I am impressed that you go all that time and effort. When we were reduced to a family of two seniors, I quit! I freeze foods but only can salmon when the fisherman brings home an abundance.

Terri in BC said...

sorry I missed your blogiversary! Here's to many more years - I love reading your blog. I agree with pieceful Wendy. your first sunflower photo would make a wonder art quilt.

quiltzyx said...

You & the 'critter' used great artist license on the first sunflower! Beautiful photo indeed.

That pitter/stoner looks like a cool tool. Totally the pits that the bottom blew out of that jar! Looking forward to your attack on the tomatillos....

Kate said...

You find the coolest gadgets. I'll have to show My Guy the cherry stoner. Love the sunflower pictures, I'd have bought the artistic expression excuse hook, line and sinker. Happy stitching (and canning) this week.

Dar said...

Your beets looki picture purrfect, the pie filling not so much. I've had one blowout in past years, but never determined the cause either. Glad nothing else was damaged.

QuiltGranma said...

in canning we have blown out the bottom of jars numerous times. don't feel badly.