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TWO BODIES OF WATER AWAY TO THE WEST are the Olympic mountains and on the south side of Mt. Jupiter there is a week-and-a-half old fire, about 1,100 acres so far. Since the Labor Day weekend we have had smoky, red sunsets. As we move towards fall, the sun sets a little earlier every day; this week around 7:30 p.m. Summer is so short!


Speaking of the Labor Day weekend, my neighbor and a friend of hers spent the weekend canning. They filled 210 jars with blackberry jam, tomato salsa, bruschetta topping, dilled green beans, pickled beets, and more. On Friday they offered me some of the 25 pound (!) bag of beets that they had bought, so I made pickled beets too (six pints).

My friend Betty makes dill pickles. Tom says they are the best he has ever tasted, so Betty gave me the recipe given to her by a friend around 1970. Nothing like sharing recipes and canning to cement friendships. We went to the Pike Place Market on Saturday of the Labor Day weekend and bought around eight pounds or so of pickling cukes. I am pretty sure that I had never made dill pickles.

These are the finished pickles, ten quarts worth. Betty says not to open them before Thanksgiving. Time will tell whether or not I succeeded in matching Betty’s pickles.

CHERRY PLUMS! One of our daughters has several old cherry plum trees growing on the property where she lives. Two years ago they were rather plentiful and none last year. Last week we managed to gather up a little over four pounds (we were a week too late for the best ones).

This quirky looking gadget was a birthday gift this summer from one of my sisters. I forgot all about it when I pitted pounds of cherries in July and August. But I remembered to try it out with the cherry plums. The pitter sits atop a narrow mouth jar and is fixed in place with a screwband; the pits drop into the jar. Worked pretty well.

Cherry plums make some of the best preserves when flavored with star anise, vanilla bean, and a couple of fresh bay leaves. The yield was seven half-pints. Since the pickings are slim these preserves are highly coveted.

This year the apple harvest from our tree was a paltry 6.5 pounds. Just enough to eke out eight half-pints of apple butter over the weekend.

Pears will be filling jars this week in some form and probably tomatoes too, since they are finally ripening.