canning recipes

Pickles!

I’ve tried pickling everything I can get my hands on…yet no pickles?!

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What’s up with that?! So yeah, I finally tried making my very own pickles! I bought a pickling cucumber plant and waited patiently for something to grow. And then I blinked and the plant had overtaken the entire planter bed. LOL Apparently it’s like zucchini…you only need one plant because it will be prolific. I saw some teeny tiny cucumbers growing and figured it would be about 2 weeks and then they’d be the right size. Well, the heat wave sped that up. They were slightly larger than I had planned on using for my first batch of pickles, but oh well.

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I got some fresh dish at a local produce stand and then tried my hand at making pickles! Here is the recipe I used:

Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Category: 4th Of July, alcohol, BBQ, Beans, beer, birthday, calories, canning, Cooking, Dinner, Dinner Party, Dogs, food, Food update, Friends, gardening, Grilling, harvesting veggies, Holiday Foods, Holidays, Manual Labor, Portland, recipes, Review, Urban Farmer, Vegetable Garden, veggies, Weekend Update

Servings: 4 jars

From: http://thecreeksidecook.com/refrigerator-garlic-dill-pickles/#axzz3f4KTLSg4

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar
  • ½ cup pickling salt
  • About 3 to 4 pounds of cucumbers - small pickling cukes are best
  • 8 large heads of dill, or more if they are smaller
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 4 pinches red pepper flake
  • about 20 black peppercorns

Instructions

  1. This will make about 4 quarts of pickles, so you need 4 1 quart jars with lids, or more if they are smaller. Canning jars aren't necessary, but they do need a lid. Wash in hot soapy water and rinse well [or run through the dishwasher].
  2. Measure the water, vinegar and salt into a 3 quart sauce pan and set over high heat - you want the salt to dissolve and the mixture to come to a full boil.
  3. Meanwhile, make sure your cucumbers are good and clean. Cut them however you like - the smaller the pieces, the more that will fit in a jar. I like spears, because they are pretty to serve, though if I end up with a lot of odd sized cucumbers, chunks may work better.
  4. In the bottom of each jar, place 1 large head of dill, or several smaller ones. You can also put in some of the fronds and stems. Then put 1 garlic clove in the bottom.
  5. Fill each jar with cucumbers - for spears, it might be easier to lay the jar on its side. You can really cram them in there tightly, but leave a good inch of headspace at the top, so that the brine will be able to cover the pickles.
  6. Top the cucumbers in the jars with another clove of garlic, as well as another large head of dill. You can just leave it at that, or for a little more complexity of flavor, add a scant teaspoon of mustard seed, a pinch of red pepper flake and 5 peppercorns to each jar.
  7. Carefully fill each jar with the boiling water/vinegar/salt mixture, making sure to get the cucumbers completely covered.
  8. Screw on the lids.
  9. Leave the jars out in the counter for 2 or 3 days, and then store in the refrigerator for at least two weeks before opening them.
  10. They will keep well for several months at least, so long as you keep them refrigerated. [Naturally, if anything looks or smells funky, discard them, but honestly, that happens very rarely.]
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=47391

I added more red pepper flakes than the recipe called for because I love spice. The recipe was super easy. The one thing I had an issue with was that the liquid wasn’t enough for 4 quart jars. I’m not sure why–maybe I let the liquid mixture boil down too much? I have no idea. But I ended up having to make a second 1/2 batch of the liquid to finish up the pickles.

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I also added some “pickle crisp granules” to each jar because I like crunchy pickles. The finished product:

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It will be about a week or two and then I can open these babies up and test them out. I’m really excited about them! If this recipe isn’t perfect, I have two other recipes that I want to try and those both are recipes for canning (as opposed to just refrigerator pickles). I will keep you updated on how they turn out.

4th of July

It was a pretty low-key holiday this year. Usually our street goes all out with tons of giant fireworks and a BBQ and everyone does a potluck/drinking fest on our street. It’s always a good time. Sadly, a bunch of neighbors went out of town this year instead so it wasn’t the big affair it usually is.

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We had our friends Mike and Susanna over for a BBQ and their oldest son brought some fireworks (and I got some of those Pop Its). Michael grilled up some ribs for dinner and we did corn on the cob and Baked Beans. I also tried a new (to me) beer! A Grapefruit Shandy. I only bought 2 bottles because I didn’t want to buy a 6 pack just in case I didn’t like it…and of course I loved it, so I wish I’d bought the whole thing. It was very refreshing and light for a very hot summer night.

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After dinner we went outside and did the fireworks. Their youngest, Rowan, is 2.5 years old and just learning to talk and it’s so adorable! He repeats everything you say and he has a slight lisp when he says the word “yes.” “Do you want to throw some Pop Its?” Answer: “Yesh!” Haha. He’s a little rockstar too. He wasn’t scared at all by the fireworks and seemed fascinated by the whole thing.

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The teenage neighbor kids were setting off the “real” fireworks once it got dark and we watched those for a bit. Then I went back to the house to be with the animals. They were all freaked out. 🙁 Rowan found Maya (the super scared and skittish cat that hides most of the time) and Maya let him pet her! (Which is hilarious because she doesn’t let ME pet her…) Rowan said “I pet the nice kitty” and he did a very good job being gentle with the kitty. It was cute.

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Unfortunately the animals were really freaked out. When it was bedtime Bella jumped up on the bed and slept between us because she was so scared. 🙁

The next day I went to a birthday party for my friend Debby. It was her 50th! She had the party at K Marie in Milwaukie. It’s a really cool idea for a party. Food and drink and arts and crafts! This time we decorated hat boxes. Since Debby went to Italy, Vienna and Paris to celebrate her 50th birthday our hat boxes were European themed!

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It was so much and everyone’s hat box looked a little bit different even though we all used the same stuff. There was artichoke dip with bread and crackers, a refreshing fruit and mint salad and of course cupcakes!

It was a busy busy busy weekend but so good! And I was so happy to see so many friends!

11 Days

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Michael and I met with the wedding coordinator and caterers at the venue. It was for the final walk-thru and planning session. It was a lovely, sunny day and we had so much fun! We figured out the placement for everything and finalized all the details. The venue was set up for another wedding and it looked similar to what we plan on doing for the layout (with a few changes). It was cool to see it set up and not just a big empty room. It made it feel more real somehow.
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I have to admit, I got a little nervous standing in the middle of the room there, imagining how it will look in a little less than two weeks with all our friends and family around us. Butterflies!

The next day, I went to the gym and did my old traditional workout. Most Saturdays I’ve been hitting the Warrior Room for my workout but this weekend the ladies were off on their bachelorette party  so the Warrior Room was closed. I got in my own kettle bell workout at my gym, did a bunch of other body weight exercises and free weights. Then I went up to the cardio room and ran on the treadmill. It wasn’t a great run. My legs felt heavy and I finally called it quits after a little over a mile.

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After that, I had a ton of kitchen stuff to do! Our garden exploded with the hot weather lately. So many jalapenos, so many tomatoes. I spent the afternoon making jalapeno jelly and then canning tomatoes. First, the peppers. I found a recipe that used a pound of jalapenos, which was good because we probably have about 6 pounds right now. And that is after we pickled half a dozen jars of them!

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I followed the instructions to the letter because this is the first time I’ve ever made jelly before and the first time I’ve ever worked with pectin. You know what else is scary? Measuring out 6 cups of sugar.

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Yikes! Slightly terrifying seeing that much sugar for a recipe! It’s a shame you can’t use sugar substitutes for stuff like this. But I know that’s a no-no when making jam.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
From: http://www.diaryofahumblechef.com/jalapeno-pepper-jelly/
Ingredients
  • ¾ to 1 pound jalapeno peppers
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 packets liquid pectin (measure out 2½ packets and have ½ packet ready to go if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon butter, if desired
Instructions
  1. Sterilize jars by running though the dishwasher or boiling in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Wash lids and rings in hot, soapy water.
  2. Combine 2½ packets liquid pectin (4 oz) with ½ cup sugar. Set aside.
  3. Rinse, deseed and rough chop the jalapeños.
  4. Puree jalapeños in a food processor or blender, adding about ¼ to ½ cup cider vinegar to smooth out.
  5. Combine jalapeño puree, remaining sugar, vinegar and butter in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly so as to prevent burning.
  6. After boiling for 10 minutes, add sugar/pectin mixture.
  7. Bring to a hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  8. Skim foam if any.
  9. Test for thickness by scooping a half a spoonful of the jelly with a cold spoon that has been resting in ice water. If it is to your desired thickness after coming to room temperature, then proceed to the next step. If not, add the remaining ½ pouch (1½ oz of pectin) to the sauce pan and bring back to a hard boil for one minute.
  10. Carefully ladle jelly into jars, leaving about ¼ inch at the top.
  11. Secure the lids and rings to the jars then add the jars to boiling water using tongs or a canning basket. Make sure there are at least two inches of boiling water covering the top of the jars.
  12. Process (boil) for 10-12 minutes.
  13. Carefully remove the jars to dishtowels to cool (you will probably need to process a couple of batches, depending on the size of your canning pot or basket).
  14. After cooling for a couple of hours or overnight, check the seals on the jars by pressing the middle of the lid. If it springs back, it is not seal properly. Refrigerate and use within a few weeks. If it doesn’t spring back, then it is sealed properly and can be stored in your pantry for 12-18 months.

I added the other 1/2 packet of the pectin like the instructions said and the consistency still wasn’t quite right. I added a little bit more, but alas, my pepper jelly wasn’t to be. 🙁  I still sealed the jars just in case it took awhile for the pectin to set?! Yeah, still didn’t. 🙁

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While the jars were cooling I got started on the tomatoes. I picked about four pounds of tomatoes and did a quick method of peeling the skin off, similar to what I did when I made the salsa a few weeks ago. I boiled it for like 30 seconds and then put the tomatoes in ice water. The skin came off so easy. Here is the tomato recipe:

RAW-PACKED TOMATOES WITH NO ADDED LIQUID

Category: calories, canning, Cooking, food, food mistakes, gardening, harvesting veggies, Manual Labor, recipes, Urban Farmer, Vegetable Garden, Wedding, wedding planning, Weekend Update

From: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/raw-packed-tomatoes-with-no-added-liquid

Ingredients

  • 3 lb whole, halved or quartered tomatoes per quart jar
  • Ball® Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
  • Salt, optional
  • (32 oz) quart or (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Instructions

  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
  2. WASH tomatoes. Dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds or until skins start to loosen and crack. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Remove cores and any bruised or discolored portions. Leave whole, halve or quarter.
  3. ADD ½ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar. Add ¼ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar.
  4. PACK raw tomatoes into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Press tomatoes into the jar until the spaces between them fill with juice leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding tomatoes. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
  5. PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 85 minutes for both pints and quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=44181

I wanted to do it this way so that I have whole tomatoes this winter to make different sauces and stuff. This was a very fast, easy way to preserve the massive amounts of tomatoes we have! It was seriously so fast and easy. I’m glad I did this recipe because if it works well when I open one of those jars in January to make homemade spaghetti sauce, I will be one happy camper. That means next summer I will most likely get the bigger jars and can more tomatoes for sauce.

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I thought it was a little weird that the tomatoes “shrank.” Anyone experienced with canning have this happen? I suppose I should have shoved as many tomatoes in as I could since they would shrink in the jar. Oh well, live and learn!

On Sunday after yoga I checked the jelly. It was better than the night before but still not set all the way. I looked around online to see what I could have done differently or what I did “wrong” and came across this website. It actually gave instructions about how to fix runny jelly. I followed the instructions the next day to see if it would work. I had about 1/2 an envelope of pectin leftover so I used that.

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And it worked! I am glad I took the extra time to fix the jelly. I added the rest of that pectin packet and resealed everything. It was a bummer I had to throw away all the lids and use new ones but I am glad I did it. The jelly set perfectly and I had a little sample…it was DELICIOUS and perfect! And spicy!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing little details for the wedding…making name cards, programs, finalizing stuff and packing things I will need that day!