145. The Harvest Kitchen

It’s been a busy harvest season; yet still I don’t have any canned peaches or pears. We had only about a dozen peaches on our little second-year peach tree and about a dozen pears on the Bosc pear tree. The other pear tree — a Bartlett — is taller and more beautiful and has never had a single pear so far. But the apples are beginning to ripen…

harvest kitchen

And how has my beautiful new kitchen held up under the rigors of harvest season? Well, I can tell you that it hasn’t looked beautiful and pristine lately.

I’ve learned a few tips for all you would-be kitchen designers out there…

kitchen triangle

During harvest season the kitchen triangle is most important — but this triangle is sink, stove, chopping block.  Under my butcher block island are big wide drawers for all manner of utensils. It’s a must to have all those necessary kitchen tools close at hand for chopping, tasting, stirring, filling, straining, and hot jar-lifting.

IMG_6392Also filling a huge need is the deep farmhouse sink. I’ve always loved it, but never more than this canning season. I have asked Mr. H.C. to put his carpenter brain and hands to work to fashion a chopping block that I can put (temporarily) on one side of the sink. That way, I can just  chop tomatoes or peel apples and not worry about the juices dripping on the floor.

IMG_6451 A big, wide windowsill helps too, for ripening green tomatoes, keeping paper towels handy, and putting aside certain fruits or veggies to deal with later.

Clean Kitchen floor!

Clean Kitchen floor!

A comfortable floor to stand on is a necessity — and it has to clean up easily. My VCT (vinyl composition tile) kitchen floor is both of those. It’s cool to stand on in summer bare feet, and mopping up the VCT is fairly easy too. It’s been down now for two years, and I am just now thinking that I should probably strip it and re-wax. After canning season is done. (And I didn’t mention that it is probably the most inexpensive flooring you can buy…)

The soapstone counter that I can put hot pans on with no worries is a must in a canning kitchen. Hot jars, pans of boiling water, a pot of hot tomato sauce — all can go right on the countertop. No, it doesn’t look beautiful and waxed and shiny right now; that’s for after canning season is over.

That lovely little glass “filling cup” came to me from Clara, Mr. H.C.’s mom. It’s been a workhorse this season.

The high faucet and deep sink is fantastic for filling the canner. And I’m not sure if it’s the finish (brushed stainless) or the expensiveness of it, but it never seems to get dirty. For that I’m grateful…

deep sink and high faucet

The biggest drawback I’ve found with the kitchen design is not enough room on the left side of the stove. I’m not sure if that is a permanent state of affairs or not, because that’s the one unfinished area of the kitchen. missing the backsplashThe subway tile back splash will continue around the corner, and there’s a planned shelf above the backsplash where the appliances will sit. Before canning season, I was hedging about this, thinking they were fine right where they were. But now I’m not sure. Storage is limited in this smallish kitchen, so the shelf will be built, but what goes on the shelf is TBD — hopefully before next canning season.

And that brings us to the last necessity for a harvest kitchen — space for one’s jars of Beautiful Canned Goods. I thought the old-and-lovely built-in cupboard would be big enough, but it isn’t.  I’ve purchased five dozen canning jars so far this season; that’s sixty extra jars in a cupboard that was already sort-of full.

Aunt Mary stored her canned goods on the shelves that are four-steps-down from the kitchen in what was probably built as a storage cellar. The shelves are perfectly sized for canning jars, but they are currently filled with the tools of Mr. H.C.’s trade — painting, plumbing, and electrical supplies — and I don’t think they will be cleaned off anytime soon, so here’s the inside of my over-crowded kitchen cupboard:

the fruits of canning season

the fruits of canning season

How I spent August and September… and the apples are just starting. Anyone have an easy recipe for apple butter that doesn’t include burnt pans or exploding pressure cookers?