Sunrise–16 July 2014

 

16Jul42014_300_2102

Taken from my side patio, 6:38 AM, 16 July 2014.  Caldwell (Sunnyslope Area) Idaho.

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Peppers, Tomatoes, and Another Batch of Pickles, and More!

25July2014_DSC_0036

It would seem that all we are growing are cucumbers, but we are really growing other things too. 

We are starting to harvest tomatoes and peppers now and carrots.  The peppers on the left are Anaheim and Banana, which are now strung up and hanging outside sun drying. Later this week I will also be harvesting some of the Pepperoncini Peppers for, well, pickling….  We have about 45 pepper plants of 13 different varieties.  Interestingly, I forgot to plant one of the peppers I really wanted, and one that we use frequently – Jalapeno Peppers.  I will make sure they are planted next year.

Some of the larger tomatoes are starting to be ripe, as in the Pink Berkley seen on the right.  25July2014_DSC_0010The others that are ripe are the Golden Nugget Cherry Tomatoes and the Principle Borghese, which is a paste tomato that is often used for sun dried tomatoes.  Instead of sun drying out tomatoes, we are using our dehydrators to dry them.  We have already completed one batch, which we vacuum sealed. 

Below are some of the tomatoes ready for the dehydrator.  The red ones are the Principle Borghese and the yellow are the Golden Nugget.  24Jul42014_DSCF7198

As I said, I made another batch of pickles using a different recipe. This time I used the Dill Sandwich Slices recipe from the Ball – Complete Book of Home Preserving book.

***One thing about the Pickle recipes that I post is that I do not include complete instructions. If you have never canned, or are unfamiliar with the processes I describe, please look up how to can, jar preparation, hot water bath versus pressure canning, and all other things canning related. To make it easy, you can just buy the referenced book.  Canning is safe, but you really need to understand what you are doing before you do it. ***

While I plan to process more cucumbers, I will more than likely not post the recipe unless it is something new.

Pickle Recipe – Dill Slices: 25July2014_DSC_0050

Batch Size:  9 – 10 Pints

Ingredients:

6 Tbsps. pickling spice (as discussed in this post:  Click Me!)
8 cups Braggs vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
8 cups Water (filtered)
1 1/2 cups white sugar 
1 cup canning or pickling salt 
10 each bay leaves 
20 garlic cloves
10 Dill Heads
5 tsps. mustard seeds
24 cups pickling cucumbers

Place 5 tablespoons picking spice in a cheesecloth bag, tying closing the top.  In a non reactive pan, place the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spice bag.  Slowly bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.

In prepared jars, place 2 cloves garlic, one dill head, 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds, and one bay leaf.  Pack pickles leaving 3/4 inch head space and top with pickling liquid, leaving 1.2 inch head space. 

26Jul42014_DSCF7205Process for 15 minutes (again, because of altitude, I did 20 minutes).  Turn off heat, remove canner top, and remove jars after 5 minutes.

In other news, we are staring to actually get a nice supply of eggs.  We are now up to 3 per day as the chickens are starting to get to the right age.  I am still not sure which rooster I will keep (we have two) as they are both getting along and are fairly calm roosters. 

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Canning Pickles

17Jul42014_DSCF7125

The cucumber plants are still churning out cucumbers, to once again I am making pickles.  This time I am doing two batches, and ended up with 15 quarts of pickles total.  This brings our pickle stores to around 32 quarts and 8 pints.  A lot of pickles with more to come I am sure.

One of the issues for these two batches may be the size of the cucumbers.  They were a bit large, but fresh, so I am hoping that they will end up crisp.

For this batch of pickles, I used a recipe based on the Ball – Complete Book of Home Preserving, and modified the base recipe to our needs.

***One thing about the Pickle recipes that I post is that I do not include complete instructions. If you have never canned, or are unfamiliar with the processes I describe, please look up how to can, jar preparation, hot water bath versus pressure canning, and all other things canning related. To make it easy, you can just buy the referenced book. Canning is safe, but you really need to understand what you are doing before you do it. ***

Pickle Recipe 2:17Jul42014_DSCF7120

Batch Size:  7 – 8 Quarts 

Ingredients:

Brine -

8 lbs. pickling cucumbers 
1/2 cup pickling or canning salt
Water (filtered) to cover cucumbers

Pickling Ingredients -

3/4 cup  pickling or canning salt
8 cups water (filtered)
2 Tbsp. Pickling Spice  (see below)
6 cups vinegar (Braggs)
1/4 cup white sugar 
7 – 8 tsp. yellow mustard seeds (1 tsp. per quart) 
10 (approximately) heads dill
14 garlic cloves 
14 Arbol chilies – whole dry

Pickling Spice:24July1024_DSCF7130

1 ea. – cinnamon stick broken into small pieces 
5 bay leaves – crushed 
2 Tbsps. yellow mustard seeds 
1 Tbsp. allspice
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds 
1 Tbsp. whole black pepper corns 
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cardamom seeds 
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cloves – whole

For the pickling spice, I mixed the ingredients and put into a half-pint jar and further mixed by rotating (not shaking) the jar until all ingredients looked fully integrated. Smelled really good. 

17Jul42014_DSCF7125The cucumbers were brined by placing them in a non-reactive pan after 1/4 cups of sale was mixed with 8 cups of water.  The cucumbers were brined for about 14 hours.  When ready to use, I triple rinsed the cucumbers, and then drained.

To process, first prepare the jars and lids (look it up if you are not sure how to prepare jars).  Then take 2 tablespoons of the pickling spice and place in a piece of cheesecloth, making a small bag and tying closed.  Place the spice bag in a pan containing the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and summer for 15 minutes.  Turn on low and cover until ready to use.

Pack jars with 1-1/2 dill heads, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon mustard seed, and cucumbers to within 3/4 inches from top.  I put the Abrol chilies in between the cucumbers, on the sides of the jars to they looked nice.  Top up 19-July-2014_DSCF7144with the pickling solution to within 1/2 inches of the top of the jar.

Wipe the rim with a damp clean cloth, and attach lid and ring.  Place in canner.

Slowly bring the water up to a boil (I use medium heat).  When a boil is achieved, process for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude.  because I am at 2224 feet, I processed to 15 minutes.  After the appropriate time, turn off heat, take lid of canner, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, placing them on a towel.

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Lemon Pickles

17Jul42014_DSCF7145

One of the varieties of cucumbers that I planted this year was Lemon Cucumbers.  Though I only planted 4 plants, they have produced over 20 pounds of cucumbers, and are still going strong.  So, I decided that I would pickle some of them.

One nice thing about this batch is that I was able to use some of the Walla Walla Onions that I planted from seed.  The onions are still a bit small, but big enough to cook with in this case.  The smell from the onions was quite fresh and strong, but not harsh.  Fairly pleasant actually.

***One thing about the Pickle recipes that I post is that I do not include complete instructions. If you have never canned, or are unfamiliar with the processes I describe, please look up how to can, jar preparation, hot water bath versus pressure canning, and all other things canning related. To make it easy, you can just buy the referenced book. Canning is safe, but you really need to understand what you are doing before you do it. ***

Pickle Recipe – Lemon 1: 20Jul42014_DSCF7152

Batch Size:  7 – 8 Pints

Ingredients:

Brine -

8 lbs. pickling cucumbers 
3 lbs. onions
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
Water (filtered) to cover cucumbers

Pickling Ingredients -

4 cups vinegar (Braggs) 
4 1/2 cups white sugar 
2 Tbsps.. yellow mustard seeds  
1 1/2 Tbsps. celery seeds 
1 Tbsp. ground turmeric

20Jul42014_DSCF7157Prepare cucumbers and into 1/4 inch slices.  Thinly slice the onions.  Combine onions and cucumbers, place in a non-reactive bowl and add canning salt.  Cover with cold water and store in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

When ready to process, in a non-reactive pot, add vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric, slowly bringing to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.

Drain the cucumber and onion mixture.  Add to liquid and slowly return to boil.

Take off heat and pack jars with cucumber mixture to within 1/2 inch or the top of the jar.  Add liquid to top off 20Jul42014_DSCF7160to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar.

Wipe rim with a damp towel, add lid and ring.

Process to 10 minutes (15 for me because of altitude), turn off heat, take off lid, and then take the jars out after 5 minutes.

This recipe made very good looking pickles.

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Wine Update, and Squash!

20Jul42014_DSCF7147Racked my wines today, and I am very pleased with the results, so far.

The Cherry Wine came in with an SG of 1.000 and the Cherry Mead at 1.010.  As I mentioned in the original post, Cherry Wine and Mead, with care, 71B will go way above 14% ABV.  For the mead, it stopped in the perfect spot.

The mead it amazingly good for a 20 day old product.  The honey is present but does not mask the presence of the cherries.  There is a very pleasant sweetness, but not at all cloying. If the mead stops where it is, I will be happy and will not need to back sweeten or add any acid.  Wood?  Maybe.  I do have some wonderful medium toast French Oak chips hanging around, and I think they will go quite well with the mead.  I may split the batch and do half wood half no wood.

The issue is now what happens with the 48 ounces of cherry wine base that I added on the 20th to both the mead and the wine.  I did notice that there was some airlock activity 5 hours after adding the additional fruit, which I expected, so we shall see on the 4th of August how the wines were affected.

As for the Cherry Wine – It is really hot.  A lot of alcohol that I think will age out.  The wine I will have to back sweeten a bit, which I originally thought I might have to do anyway.  There is good cherry flavor and nothing except the alcohol that is harsh.  No wood for the wine though, as it is going to be a light and delicate wine if all goes well.

Look!  It is Misty is a zucchini standing in front of out 8 foot corn!

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Dill Pickles

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We planted 6 pickling cucumber plants (4 Homemade Pickle plants and 2 store bought plants), and 4 Straight 8 cucumber plants that can also be used for pickles.  The plants started off rather poorly, but now are producing a large number of cucumbers almost daily.  Misty has already pickled 7 quarts of pickles, and I just finished another 8 quarts. 

The dill is from our garden, and this is the first time that I have been able to successfully grow dill.  In Juneau the dill would become very tall and break in the wind and rain.  The plants here are short and quite strong, but I may not have planted enough to get us through the pickling season.

One change that I made was to substitute white vinegar for filtered Braggs vinegar.  I have nothing against white vinegar, I simply thought that a cider vinegar would bring a bit of flavor to the pickles.  The liquid is not as clear with the Braggs, but as long as the final produce is good, it really does not matter.

***One thing about the Pickle recipes that I post is that I do not include complete instructions. If you have never canned, or are unfamiliar with the processes I describe, please look up how to can, jar preparation, hot water bath versus pressure canning, and all other things canning related. To make it easy, you can just buy the referenced book. Canning is safe, but you really need to understand what you are doing before you do it. ***

Pickle Recipe – Dill 1: 19Jul42014_DSCF7163

Batch Size:  7 – 8 Quarts

Ingredients:

Brine -

8 lbs. pickling cucumbers  
1 cup canning or pickling salt
Water (filtered) to cover cucumbers

Pickling Ingredients -

6 1/2 cups vinegar (Braggs)
7 cups water (filtered)
1 Tbsp. canning or pickling salt
35 each. mixed peppercorns (I used a mixture of red, white, green, and black)
21 garlic cloves&
14 Dill Heads 
4 tsps. mustard seeds
14 Arbol chili peppers

23Jul42014_300_2116Mix the salt in the water, stir to dissolve salt.  In a non-reactive pan, place cucumbers and pour the brine over the cucumbers.  Place in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours (I did 18 hours).

Rinse and drain cucumbers well.

Prepare jars and lids.

Add the water, vinegar, and salt to a non reactive plan and slowly bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes.

Pack prepared jars with 2 cloves of garlic (I used whole cloves), 5 (or more) peppercorns, 1 dill head, and 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds.

Add the pickles, 2 chilies, and place 1/2 dill head on the top.  The pickles should be packed giving a generous 1.2 inch headspace.  Add vinegar solution to within 1.2 inch of the top.

Wipe rim with a damp towel, add top and ring.

Process for 15 minutes (I did 20 because of altitude).  After processing, turn off heat, remove lid from canner, and take out jars after 5 minutes.

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Garden Harvest

11-July2014_DSCF7064The garden is starting to come along, with us being able to harvest some of the vegetables. Vegetables such as tomatoes, corn, and others will be available for harvest soon.

Most of the plants are doing well, but there are issues with the watering system that may have contributed to the death of 3 or 4 tomato plants. 

Unfortunately, I had to use some pesticides today.  The aphids and other pests were just too populous to even think about controlling with organic means.  I used a spray that will not be absorbed by the roots, and while that will not control everything, it will be good enough to save the plants.

So far, the total harvest is:

  • Kale: 6.7 pounds  11-July2014_DSCF7061
  • Cucumber: 19.69 pounds
  • Green Onions: 5.375 pounds
  • Zucchini: 55.109 pounds
  • Tomato (Golden Nugget): 7.5 ounces (they are just starting)
  • Lettuce (leaf): 20.962 pounds
  • Lettuce (head): 1.6 pounds
  • Beets:  4 beets

Grand total:  ~110 pounds

This is what we did with some of the things we harvested:

12July2014_DSCF7113    11-July2014_DSCF7117

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Sausage

11-July2014_DSCF7073

I wanted to make some sausage since the Summer Sausage I made in February is gone.  I made three types of sausage, 5 pounds each type.  The sausages were a Polish without Marjoram, Polish with Marjoram, and a breakfast sausage.  The sausage was smoked using the A-Maze-N Smoker, with 3/4 Maple and 1/4 Apple wood.  The smoker was lit at both ends. 

One of the issues I have with the Cookshack AmeriQue it its inability to cold smoke without a heat baffle, and smoke evenly at cold temperatures.  Using the A-Maze-N Smoker, I can still get a good smoke at 130 F.  Now I need to find a fan mod to get DSCF7077better circulation in order to properly cold smoke evenly.  Of course, for regular smoking, the AmeriQue is a truly wonderful smoker.

This was also the first time I used the LEM 5 pound Sausage Stuffer.  The LEM was fast and also gave a better texture to the finished product.  The problem I had was with the casings, which seemed to be very weak in places.  But, in the end it worked well.

The Recipes:

Recipe (Polish 1):11-July2014_DSCF7081

Batch Size: 5 pounds

Ingredients:

5 lbs. Pork Butt (2267 grams)
1 cup Ice Water
38.54 grams Kosher salt (Real Salt)
1 tsp. Cure #1 
4.35 grams Cracked Black Pepper 
13 grams Minced Garlic

Recipe (Polish 2):11-July2014_DSCF7104

Batch Size: 5 pounds

Ingredients:

5 lbs. Pork Butt (2267 grams)
2 Tbsps. Yellow Mustard Seed
4 tsps. Kosher salt (Real Salt)
1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1 tsp. Cure #1  
1 Tbsp. Marjoram 
15 Cloves Garlic – Minced

Recipe (Breakfast Sausage):DSCF7111

Batch Size: 5 pounds

Ingredients:

5 lbs. Pork Butt (2267 grams)
1/4 cup Ice Water
4 tsps. Rubbed Sage
4 tsp. Kosher salt (Real Salt)
3 tsps.. Cracked Black Pepper
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp. Cayenne
4 tsps. Thyme
1 tsp. Rosemary
2 Tbsps. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Nutmeg

The sausage turned out great, though the heat and the smoke in the smoker was a bit uneven due to, I think, the lack of air flow within the smoker. I am attempting to find a fan that I can put in the smoker to get a proper air current and an even heat and smoke at low temperatures.

The sausage was vacuum sealed and placed in the freezer

11-July2014_DSCF7108

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Cherry Wine and Mead

30June2014_300_2027

A picture of Misty drinking coffee during our morning garden tour.

I decided that it was time to make my cherry wine and mead from the sweet (black) cherries that we picked recently. Nothing fancy going into these two batches, just simple and hopefully, tasty.

I also made a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon (Wine Expert) today.  There are nice kits that I have made before, and compete favorably with a couple of the local wines. 

I am impatiently waiting for my Pinot Noir and Cabernet grapes to grow.  With one exception, all of my grape vines are doing well.  I think I lost one of my Cabernet vines.  Only a couple of years to go!

In the mean time, here is a picture of one of our table grapes:29June2014_300_2036

The Mead:

I decided to use Costco Clover Honey.  I have used it in mead before and it was quite good.  The local honey is very nice to eat, but it is also very strong tasting with a lot of thistle, sage, and other flavors that may not compliment the cherries.  I also did not boil the honey as I see absolutely no benefit, and the losses of flavor and honey components is not worth the small chance of preventing some (rare) type of infection.  That is what Campden is for, and besides, the raw fruit is full of “stuff”.

The cherries were frozen at negative 5 F for about a week to allow for fuller juice extraction.  The cherries are sitting in a 5 gallon nylon paint straining bag, along with all other ingredients save the yeast.

I may add some additional honey to the secondary to increase the ABV a bit.  Thinking another 21 to 23%’er!

The Wine:

Just cherries processed as above and table sugar.

The Yeast(s): 

For both the mead and Wine, I have decided to use Lalvin 71B-1122.  I chose this yeast for its ability to metabolize the malic acid present in the cherries.  If I need acid, I will add it later.  Since the mead is going to be in the 20% range, I may re-pitch with Lalvin 1118 after the 71B reaches its potential, which is about 14% ABV.  I have had it go way above 14% before, and with care it may take care of the mead on its own.  1118 is excellent for restarting a stuck fermentation, and also great in the secondary.  I have used it in my 23% ABV Blueberry Mead in the past, and I like it. 

The wine is going to be 16.57% ABV, so I am sure that the 71B will run through that with no issue, leaving the right amount of residual sugars to making a nice wine with little or not back sweetening.  If not, I have more yeast and 100 pounds of sugar to deal with any problems.

1July2014_DSC2095Additional Information:

For both the wine and mead, I will be adding 48 fluid ounces of Cherry Wine Base from Vintners Harvest in the secondary.  I have had a 96 ounce bucket of the base sitting at home for the past 4 years, and now I have an excuse to use it. 

The cherries registered a Brix of 23.35, which is a bit above what I had initially thought.  Actually, my go-to calculator had a pre-determined Brix of 16.  Don’t know where that figure came from, but it is being changed.  Nice to have a refractometer – finally!

All ingredients, with the exception of the yeast, is sitting in the primaries with Campden.  I will pitch yeast tomorrow night at 1600.  Wine will be in the primary for 7 days, and probably the same for the mead.  Secondary until they are in a place I want them, then bulk aging for 6 months for the wine, and a year or two for the mead.  I figure the wine will be done in 7 months to a year, and the mead in 2 years as something to drink, and 3 to 4 (and longer) for something to enjoy, depending on final ABV.

The recipes:

Cherry Melomel:

Batch Size: 6. gallons
Potential %AVB:  20.64

Sugars:

20 lbs. – Clover Honey – Costco  
25 lbs. – Sweet Black Cherries 
48 fl. oz. – Cherry Wine Base (Vintners Harvest)  *added in secondary

Additions:

6 ea. – Campden
3 tsp. – Pectic Enzyme
1 tsp. – Tannin FT Rouge
6 tsp. – Yeast Nutrient  – added at start and again at 1/3 sugar break
1 tsp. – Yeast Energizer

Yeast:

Lalvin 71B-1122 rehydrated in yeast energizer
Possible addition of Lalvin 1118 for secondary fermentation


Cherry Wine:

Batch Size: 6. gallons
Potential %AVB:  16.57

Sugars:

11 lbs. – Table Sugar
25 lbs. – Sweet Black Cherries 
48 fl. oz. – Cherry Wine Base (Vintners Harvest)  *add in secondary

Additions:

6 ea. – Campden
3 tsp. – Pectic Enzyme
1 tsp. – Tannin FT Rouge
6 tsp. – Yeast Nutrient  – added at start and again at 1/3 sugar break
1 tsp. – Yeast Energizer

Yeast:

Lalvin 71B-1122 rehydrated in yeast energizer

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Critters of Idaho

29June2014_300_2026We were walking around the garden and saw this little guy.  I was able to approach within a few feet and took this picture.  We think it is a baby robin, but are not sure.  Micha saw one in one of the bushes buy out house and I took another picture of it.  Then, the cat saw it and decided it would make a tasty mid-morning snack, and it grabbed it. 

Micha, seeing this, screamed (which was entertaining in itself), distracting the cat and the bird was able to escape.  Pretty funny actually, and I am glad the bird was able to escape, because knowing the cat, it would have dropped it off at 30June2014_300_2043the front door as a present for Micha. Look at the image on the right carefully and you can see the bird that the cat almost caught.

One of the things that I was disappointed with last year was the lack of nice butterflies around the property.  This year however, I have seen a few flying around, but they have not landed long enough for me to take a picture.  Finally, yesterday a butterfly was drinking from the lavender bushes by the front door, and I was able to take a few pictures.

 

1July2014_300_20891July2014_300_20591July2014_300_2091

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