Friday, October 23, 2015

An explosion

Last Saturday put an end to the garden for the year, except for the kale, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and kohlrabi. They're a bit more cold hardy than others. But the tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, etc. all bit the dust as the temperature plunged to 21ºF. Even the stuff in the hoop house got bit.

So this week has been garden cleanup. The tomatoes have all been brought inside to the basement to ripen slowly. Last year I ate the last one the week before Christmas. Sure, they don't taste as good as fresh from the vine, but they're still better than those red things in the store that they call tomatoes.

Quite a few of the tomatoes were almost to the point of being ripe, so last night I canned 7 quarts of stewed tomatoes. For those of you who don't know, part of the process of canning is processing the quart jars in a pot of boiling water for about an hour. The instructions say 50 minutes, but I usually prefer to err on the side of caution and give them an hour. Then you pull the jars out and let them seal. Debbie loves to hear the "pop" when they seal.

As I said, I was canning 7 quarts of tomatoes last night. After they went into the boiling water bath, I went into the other room to do some editing. About 50 minutes into the processing, there was a huge Boom! Debbie yelled at me to come quickly because the pot was boiling over.

That's an understatement! I've been canning now for the better part of 40 years, and I've never seen anything like it before. One of the rings holding the lid on had let loose. The jar was intact, but the boiling tomatoes inside had acted like a cannon, shooting the lid and ring into the lid of the pot. The lid had actually moved over about an inch, and tomato was all over the top of the stove and down the front of it, onto the floor, and all over the rug!

Sometimes a jar will have a weak spot in it and break, but then you just get tomatoes (and glass) in the canning water. Sure it's a pain to clean up, but it isn't a mess like this! It took us the better part of 1/2 hour, working together, to clean it up.

The jar is still intact. But I threw that ring away! In feeling it after the fact, I could tell that the threads weren't as deep as normal. What a way to discover that, though! Gardening, hazardous to your health!

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