pickled okra

August 30, 2010

My dad likes pickled okra. He arranged with a farmer at our farmer’s market to pick a whole bunch of tiny okra (the size that is best for eating too!). If you pick them too large, then they won’t even fit in the canning jar! The tiny okra were pricy, and okra is definitely going on my list for garden veggies to plant next spring.

I made the pickle with vinegar, hot peppers, okra and dill seeds. A recipe from the Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. First step was to wash the vegetables, and then distribute them, and the dill seeds in pint jars. I ended up making 6 jars.

Meanwhile I heated vinegar, water, and salt in a pot, and then poured the brine-like mixture over the okra packed in jars, and processed the jars according to directions (15 minutes?). I remembered this time to remove the air bubbles (with a chopstick)!

I used a batch of vintage mason jars from my friend Jeanne, which made the finished jars of pickles extra cute!

a single serving

August 18, 2010

What to do when you have a few beautiful tomatoes that must be eaten, but you are full? Can them. In tiny jars, for single servings of pasta sauce.

I was canning peaches yesterday, and made along side a little pan of pasta sauce. I filled up two tiny jars with sauce, and processed them along with the peaches. I don’t think that I would have canned the jars if I hadn’t been processing the peaches already. It would have been too much boiling water for too small a result…

Now, when I am home some night, in the winter, I can open up one of my two tiny jars, and make noodles with sauce. And there won’t be any left overs!

just peachy

August 16, 2010

Kathy and I canned peaches today. When you can peaches, it seems like you have to can a lot. We picked up a 3/4 bushel box from the store (no peaches on my tree yet…) and canned quite a few (but not the entire box!).

Canning peaches involve lots of hot things.

Boiling water to slip off the peels.

Slicing the hot peaches and removing their pits.

Simmering sugar syrup for preserving the peaches.

Hot peaches into little jars.

Boiling jars.

Removing boiled jars from the boiling water…

Makes for a bit of time on your toes, in the kitchen with a lot of heat. Today was a perfect canning day though. A little breeze, sunshine, and, well, perfect. We successfully canned the peaches without incident. And made a little peach syrup as an afterthought!

I have to say I am a sweet pickle person. I can open a jar of sweet pickles and eat the entire thing. It is more fun with a friend, but I can definitely do it by myself.

I got this recipe from a woman who lived outside Iowa City. These pickles were one of the first (maybe the first) canning endeavors that I undertook on my own. In my tiny apartment without proper supplies. I burned myself, but ended up with 6 jars of lovely pickles. Needless to say, I was hooked.

The cucumbers are cut and left to sit, covered in salt and ice water. The salt draws moisture out of the cucumbers which results in crispy pickles!

After the cucumbers have sat for several hours, the vinegar, sugar and spices are heated up. The cucumbers are then heated in the syrup for 5 minutes and then ladled into jars and processed.

I am wondering how this batch will come out as I did let the cucumbers sit in the fridge for several days…it was just too hot to be working over a pot of boiling water!

My friend Mary has a sweet red plum tree. I stopped by this morning, and we rigged a ladder in the bed of her little cart thingy, and picked most of the ripe plums off the tree. Now to the preservation of these delicious morsels!

I decided to make two different batches of  jam to test different methods for pitting the plums. For the first batch, I placed the whole plums directly into the pot. I added a little water, and cooked them until the pits came away from the fruit. I put the entire mess into a food mill, and removed the pits and peels. It was a little bit too tricky to remove just the pits, so the peels went too. I would have preferred to leave the peels in though.

I cooked the resulting puree with sugar, and jarred it as usual. It was a bit thin, so I let it cook down for a while.

The jam has a bit of a sharp taste which I think is from cooking the fruit with the pits. There seems to be a bit of sourness surrounding the pits of plums, too, which carried across in this jam. It is good, but maybe not my favorite. Tomorrow I am going to make the second batch of jam, with pitted fruit this time!

russian pickles

July 24, 2010

This morning I got to the market early and found some pickling cucumbers, dill, and garlic. I picked some grape leaves at my dad’s house, and a handful of oak leaves from a tree in my yard.

I used a recipe from The Joy of Pickling and Preserving for Russian dill pickles. Oak leaves are added for flavor (instead of fermenting the pickles in an oak barrel which I don’t have..).

Pickles are a no heat project which is great since it is so hot today! Wash the jar, layer the cucumbers, herbs, and spices, and cover with salt water. EASY.

This recipe included hot peppers, garlic, mustard and coriander seeds, peppercorns, and bay leaves. The pickles are covered with a layer of oak leaves, and then some grape leaves, and then pressed down with a glass disk to keep everything submerged in the brine.

pickle success!

July 21, 2010

My first batch of pickles had a narrow escape. Everything was going hunky dory, and then I went out of town for the weekend. Usually when I leave home with a batch of something brewing, my mom looks after it. I forgot to tell her about the pickles, and fortunately they survived the two and a half day absence. I came home and they had finished fermenting. They bright green cucumbers had turned a deep olive green, and the bubbles had stopped rising to the surface of the jar.

I was a little worried about the brine, as some of the white scum that usually forms on the surface had started sinking into the jar. I washed the pickles, and then stuck them in a clean jar filled with salt water. That was the first thing that came to mind to do. As far as I am concerned, the pickles narrowly missed being ruined…I most certainly am not going to leave home and forget my pickles again!

The finished pickles are crispy, bright and tasty. My mom and I are going to make potato salad for them, and I am already planning on making another batch of sour dills…