Well, it is actually more of a freezer bag count. The pumpkin and squash were baked in the oven until tender. I put 3 cups of squash in each freezer bag and got 12 bags of squash deliciousness. The baked pumpkin was a bit lumpy when scraped from the shells so I ran it through my blender to smooth it out, put 3 cups of pumpkin puree into each freezer bag and that yielded 9 bags.
I had three large bags of apples that looked, just by eyeballing them, to be at least one bushel. Those I ran through my handy, dandy apple peeler, corer, slicer gadget, and filled quart sized bags as full as possible. That yielded 17 1/2 bags of apples.
Now about the cranberries. I have found, much to my chagrin, that I am not as young as I used to be. Birthday Number 70 is on the horizon. I realize that there are many folks of my vintage who just skip along like they were still 30. I'm not one of 'em. This past year has been a bit of a trial due to health issues, one of which kept me hospitalized for two weeks last winter. Arthritis flare-ups have made it difficult to stay on my feet for prolonged periods of time. Understand, this is not a major whine nor is it a bid for sympathy. I have no time or patience for either. It is just a statement of fact. Those are the cards I was dealt. Those are the cards I play.
So with that in mind, I had to admit to myself that 50 lbs. of cranberries were not going to be processed all at once. These berries are just plain beautiful and I didn't want to lose any of them by having them sit too long before processing. I still have a lot of cranberry sauce on my shelf so I plan to make juice from these. Son and I can go through a lot of juice in a year.
I got out my recipe to see how many cranberries it takes for one batch of juice and then I bagged up the berries accordingly and froze them. Making cranberry juice is time consuming, so this way I can make a couple of batches at a time which is much easier on my failing body than trying to process 50 lbs. all at once. Here is the recipe I use:
4 quarts (4 pounds) cranberries
3 to 3-1/2 cups granulated sugar (I cut the amount of sugar per batch to 2 1/2 cups)
Bring cranberries and 4 quarts water to a simmer in a large pot. DO NOT BOIL. Simmer 5 minutes, or until most berries burst.
Pour berries and juice into damp jelly bag or a colander lined with four layers of clean cheesecloth. Let juice drip into a large bowl. DO NOT squeeze the bag.
When you have extracted as much juice as possible from the pulp, return pulp to pot with 2 quarts water. Simmer 2 minutes.
Pour this pulp and juice through jelly bag again to extract remaining juice.
Place the 2 batches of juice in a large pot.
Add sugar to suit your taste and 1 more quart water. Heat to dissolve sugar completely, but do not boil.
Quickly pour into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace; seal.
Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Yields about 7 quarts.
I have enough cranberries frozen to make 13 batches of this recipe which should yield about 90 quarts. I have other things that need my attention this week, so I will probably make a batch or two of juice every week, starting next week. I have to say that once you have a glass of homemade cranberry juice, you will not want to drink the store-bought kind ever again. :)
And with that, I believe canning season is about done. Unless I find a really good sale on meat. And even if I don't, my shelves (and a closet in Son's apartment) are full to overflowing. It is such a good feeling to know that whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at us over the winter, be it blizzards or ice storms which are par for the course here in Minnesota, I have enough food on my shelves to feed Son and me and any other children or grandchildren who may need it. I can rest easy until Spring, when the cycle will start anew. Just as my parents and grandparents did it. Just as it should be.
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