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.

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.

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!

20Jul42014_300_2111

Dill Pickles

19Jul42014_DSCF7184

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.

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

It is Cherry Season

20June2014_DSCN0402As you can see in the picture of Micha picking cherries, it is cherry season in this area.

We were driving down our road last Thursday and saw a sign advertising U-Pick Cherries for 0.50 cents a pound.  After we returned home, Misty hopped on her bike and rode about 3 miles to the cherry orchard to see what was going on.  She came home with a pack full of cherries.  Misty and Micha liked them, so it was decided that we would go early Friday  morning and pick cherries.

We managed to wake up early, before the day became hot, went to the orchard, and 20June2014_DSCN0415proceeded to pick cherries.  About 3 hours later, the three of us managed to pick approximately 130 pounds of sweet cherries.  While it was hard work, it was also quite enjoyable, and it was difficult to convince Micha to leave.  I think she did not want to leave all the cherries she saw on the trees, but also did not realize how many cherries we had picked.

Micha and Misty have been cleaning and pitting the cherries, and we are also dehydrating 15 pounds of them for baking and later use.  Misty canned some for pies in a light syrup also.  As for me, they prepared 50 pounds of cherries that I am 20June2014_DSCN0468going to use in a 6 gallon batch of mead and a 6 gallon batch of wine.  Figuring to use a bit more than 4 pounds per gallon and shoot for an ABV or 20% for the mead, and 14% for the wine.  I would like the mead to be on the sweet side, and a dry wine with possible a bit of oak.

Our two apricot trees are producing apricots now also.  Micha has been picking them daily, and we now have tables, dehydrators and boxes full of drying apricot halves.  I do not know how many pounds she picked, but I would imagine that there are about 2 – 5 gallon buckets full.  Possibly 40 or 50 pounds maybe.

Fifty cent cherries and free apricots – hard to beat that!

Frost and Beans

03Nov13_DSCF2044

As can be seen in this rather poor image of the house, it is the 3rd of November and the flowers are still blooming. 

We are pretty much done with gardening now, and are simply waiting for Spring and planting.  The new garden areas that I have prepared include a 1,000 square foot grape growing area, a 4,550 square foot general garden area, enough space for 20 new fruit trees, and a 180 square foot onion area.  We will also be doing a separate squash/pumpkin area in the Spring or late Winter.  Work on the Chicken Coop is being delayed until I decide what type of design I want – I keep changing the design.  It will be done before Spring though.  I hope.

We woke up on the 3rd and saw that the hill in the distance were white with frost.  The camera did not capture 03Nov13_DSCF2040it well, but it was quite pretty.  As I have said previously, I need to quit using my point and shoot, and start using my real camera.  At the house, the temperatures are still in the mid to upper 50’s during the day, with the occasional mid 60’s day, while nights range from the lower to mid 30’s.  Quite comfortable and no snow or hard frost yet. 

The only other new thing is that I canned another 18 jars of baked beans, and they are quite good.  We are starting to be able to limit our shopping items to dairy, vegetables, sugar, and flour products such as white flour and masa.  We now buy almost no processed (canned) goods.  Tortilla chips are the exception – have to have tortilla chips.  Hopefully, next year we will be able to eliminate the need to shop for vegetables also.  No plans for a cow yet – but maybe…….a goat……

Beans: 

05Nov13_DSCF2045

Grandma’s Chili Sauce and Ants

16Aug13_DSCF1662Oh Look! ANTS! Yes. We have a lot of ants on the property.  I have been using a commercial poison, but today we decided that we would try a more natural remedy and mixed up some Borax, Sugar, and Water.  We soaked cotton pads in the mixture and let the ants have a taste.  In the next few days we will know if it worked.

On other news:  We were at one of the local produce stands and saw that they had 16Aug13_DSCF1607tomatoes for $15.00 per half-bushel (minimum of 20 pounds).  We decided to get them, as well as a few other items, and I decided that it was finally time to make my mothers Chili Sauce.  The tomatoes were not the pretty uniform tomatoes you find in grocery stores, but blemished and a bit rough looking.  However, when cutting them open, they were simply beautiful and smelled like real tomatoes. 

I used my 7 quart Kitchen Aid Commercial mixer with the 16Aug13_DSCF1619strainer attachment to separate the pulp and juice from the skin and seeds. It seemed to to a great job, and do it rather quickly.  I then used the grinder attachment with the smaller holes to grind onions, bell peppers, hot chili peppers, and garlic.  Again, the process was quick and the grinder left enough of the products intact that you could see small chunks of vegetables. 

I boiled the mixture for 4 hours on low heat and then let sit over night.

The next morning I canned 18 pints using 12 pounds for 75 minutes.  I know I could have done a water bath, but I did not do so in order for further integrate the little chunks that I am not really a fan of.  Plus, I really feel that for long term storage, pressure canning is far superior to a water bath.  All of the jars sealed and all is well.  16Aug13_DSCF1622

This is a picture of the setup I was using, but with the strainer cover off.  It worked quite well, and the skins and seeds were pretty dry, as most of the pulp was separated. 

This weekend I will be making a Abrol Chili Salsa with the remaining tomatoes as well as two huge packs of Abrol Chili’s which I spent hours stemming and seeding yesterday and today.  I am thinking that I will get around 30 half-pint jars from the process.

Since I have two leftover pictures, here are pictures of a tomato and one of the onion/pepper mixture that I did in the grinder – Oh, I almost forgot!  A picture of the final product too:

16Aug13_DSCF161616Aug13_DSCF162616Aug13_DSCF1627

Adventures in Canning – Chili

Cooking_November12_DSC_1385In the past few weeks I have canned 57 pints of various beans, and just completed canning 25 pints of chili and beans. I really do not have a defined recipe for the chili, it was simply a mixture of meat, beans, tomato sauce and paste, as well as spices.  I just eyeball everything and it usually tastes good. 

I will post the hot salsa recipe next week, as I need to can some more.

 

Recipe:  ChiliCooking_28Nov12_DSC_1437

Ingredients:

2 pounds Pinto Beans
2 Pounds Ground Beef – extra lean
3 pounds Pork lion – extra lean
4 cans Tomato sauce
2 cans Tomato paste
Chili Powder
Cumin
Seasoning salt
Hot Salsa – Homemade
Water – as needed to ensure beans rehydrate and to thin chili mixture.

Procedure:

1. Soak beans for 24 hours and rinse very well.
2. Brown meat and add all of the ingredients except the beans.  Simmer for an hour – let sit overnight (or not).
3. Combine rinsed beans with the chili mixture and heat until almost hot (or cold pack – up to you).
4. Place in pint jars leaving one inch head space. 
5. Slowly heat canner until it starts venting – I take about 40 or so minutes for this. 
6. Vent for 10 minutes.
7. Process at 10 pounds for 75 minutes.
8. You know the rest.

One thing I will do differently next time is not mix the beans with the chili prior to filling the jars.  In the future, I will add the beans to the jars, then add the chili mixture.  What I found is that the final 6 or so jars had too many beans and not enough meat.

An image of the 25 pints of chili – all sealed and ready to store:

Cooking_28Nov12_DSC_1436