Friday, August 27, 2010

Yes! We have no bananas.....

Actually we had a lot of bananas today.  The local grocery store had them on sale for 15 cents a pound!  Granted these were the scratch and dent slightly used models but still, 15 cents a POUND!
I bought a few.... say somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 pounds.  My freezer isn't that big.  What to do?  Banana butter and banana jam!  Here are a few shots of what I spent most of today on:

Banana Jam, 4 quarts, 8 pints, 20 half pints (the color on that shot is off, really, they look just as good as the first)
And the banana butter as seen in a previous blog entry here, 4 pints
Now I bet your wondering about that banana jam recipe, right?  Well first let me explain what I have found while looking for canned banana recipes....

Obviously bananas are a low acid fruit and really should NOT be canned without additional acid added.  In fact many official places say the only safe way is to freeze the jam but, I found a few other sources that suggest the addition of lemon juice, these are those professional canner types.  So we add lemon juice, but what else can you do to help?  Apple juice and sugar.  This is a home consumption thing too, so don't go trying to sell this at farmer's markets, most have a thing against banana jams for the official reason listed above.
For the jam:

5 cups chopped bananas
5 Tbsp bottled lemon juice
Apple juice
1/4 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, ground clove
1 pkg no sugar needed pectin (I'm really liking this stuff)
3 cups sugar

Place bananas and lemon juice in a large measuring cup and add apple juice to reach 5.5 cups.  pour into large stock pot and add spices.  Bring to a boil and partially mash or puree the bananas a little.  Add pectin, boil 1 minute, add sugar, boil 3 minutes.  Ladle into jars with 1/2 inch head space and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes for half pints, 15 for pints and 20 for quarts.

Or you can ladle this into freezer containers, allow to cool and freeze.
Or you can ladle into jars and put in your fridge.

Curiosity and the Kitten

Well I finished it.  Finally.  Had enough time off from canning to actually pick the needle back up and finish the last few stitches.  I call it...  Curiosity and the Kitten.  I'll let the pictures speak from here on out, there are close-ups of some areas and a shot of the back.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Canning the sauce

Had another 25 pound box of tomatoes show up.  This time though, I decided to sauce them.  Relatively easy honestly, there's a basic and herbed sauce recipe in the Ball Complete book that I followed for the most part.  But since I don't have a food mill, I peeled, cored and seeded the tomatoes before cooking them down.  As I was peeling, coring and seeding I just chucked the cleaned halves of the tomatoes directly into my stock pot.  Once it was full I put it on to start cooking while I finished the rest.  I didn't add any water, just the collected juice from the seed pulp. Added the remaining tomatoes once the amount I started with had reduced enough to do so.
After everything softened up a bit I took out my handy stick blender and pureed the tomatoes in the stock pot.  Left them a little chunky, not too much but enough to have some texture.  As for the herbs, I added granulated garlic, dry basil, dry oregano, dry onion flakes, salt, balsamic vinegar and a bit of red wine.  All to taste.  This I let cook a while until everything seemed nice and combined flavor wise but it still seemed a bit 'thin' so I added in 2 cans of tomato paste.  This is a normal addition for our regular sauce anyway.  Let it cook a bit more and it was ready.
Poured them all up and processed according to the lovely requirements in the Ball book and viola, 7 quarts and 3 pints of ready to use tomato sauce.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cantaloupe Jam

I received another 3 cantaloupes the other day and of course I can't let them go to waste!!  So what to do other than pickling them?  What about jam or preserves?  Works for me!  I used this recipe in post 3696 but I needed to tweek it a bit because, well, I'm not going near another orange for a while and I may be giving some of this to diabetic and sugar sensitive friends.  I also wanted it a bit smoother for my own texture preferences.  So here's what I did:

Cantaloupe Jam
5 1/2 cups cantaloupe mush, I pureed the cantaloupe instead of a fine chop, there are still a few pieces in it though, this is roughly one cantaloupe
1/4 tsp orange extract
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger (get the good stuff here, not the stuff that's been sitting in your pantry for a year already, try getting china no 1 from the Spice House, I swear by it)
3 cups Sugar
1 Pkg No sugar needed pectin

Combine cantaloupe mush, orange extract, ginger and lemon and bring to boil.  Add pectin, bring to a boil for 1 minute. Then add sugar and bring back to a boil for 3 minutes.  Ladle into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.
Makes 7 half pints

Thank you so very much for this recipe Vfem!  I landed 8 pints and 6 half pints from 3 cantaloupes!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Roasted GarlicJam

Sounds good doesn't it?  Makes you want to go out and buy a loaf of crusty bread for smearing or roast a nice big pork sirloin so you can spoon it on doesn't it?

Yeah, that's what I thought.  And let me tell ya.... it's good!  I just had a little bit of the stuff that didn't make it into a jar and it's fabulous.  Sweet but not too sweet with a vinegary kick to it.

Roasted Garlic Jam

5 heads garlic
Cider vinegar, 1 1/2cups plus approx 1 more, see recipe instructions
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice, bottled
1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1 pkg no sugar needed pectin
3 cups sugar

Day one:
Separate garlic cloves, do not peel, and roast in cast iron skillet on medium heat.  Alternatively this can be done in the oven, as long as they get some color and the skins become loose, do whatever you prefer.  You don't want these to be mushy, just lightly roasted.  Once all are roasted, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Peel skins off if they haven't already come off and slice off the hard 'root' end of each clove. 
Pulse in food processor until nicely minced, add 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar and pulse a few more times.  Pour mixture into a container and refrigerate overnight.

Day Two:
Add enough cider vinegar to garlic mix to make a total of 4 cups, add balsamic, lemon juice, and apple juice and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Add pectin and boil 1 minute.  Add sugar, mix really well and boil 3 minutes.  Ladle into jars with 1/2 inch head space and process in water bath for 15 minutes (sea level).
Makes about 8 half pints.

I have 6 half pints and 1 pint

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another lesson in orange

Conceding defeat to the marmalade round I decided to check out what else I could do with the remainder of these oranges.  I found this on the Pick Your Own website.  Looked simple.  Looked easy.  Looked quick.  Thus began the peeling of oranges and lemons.  I had enough for 2 batches and enough Sure Jell to be more than sure I could make it work!

Yeah, well so much for me being prepared.

The first batch I followed the recipe on the link but noticed a few things.  First the citrus separated from the solution once the sugar was added and stayed on top.  Then as I was pouring into jars the syrup was congealing on the funnel, which I took as a great sign.  But I ran out of fruit before I ran out of solution so 3 jars were just syrup.  Got them processed and 10 hours on they aren't setting, still syrup.  Which may just be because it is a citrus and they don't always set immediately so I'll withhold judgment for now.  Though the amount of water and sugar did seem to be excessive.   The effort landed me 6 half pints and 3 pints.

The second batch I decided I would do my thing, since the marmalade was already a bust and the rindless marmalade seemed syrupy before I put it in the bath to process.  What could go wrong?  How much more could I screw it up?  I started with the amount of citrus the recipe on Pick Your Own suggests.  I left it the same since that's what I had.  I decided to use the no sugar needed stuff and 2 cups of apple juice instead of water.  Then, while that was cooking I measured out what sugar I had left in the open bag, right at 3.5 cups.  Sounded good to me.  Dumped it in and 60 seconds later was ladling an unseparated 'jam' into my jars.  It only netted me 3 pint jars but 9.5 hours on they are beginning to set!!!  AND the chunks of citrus are suspended throughout instead of all at the top.  Hopefully this is a success, I'll cross my fingers.

The money shot, the 3 that are starting to set (2nd batch) are in the front on the bottom.  The 3 that are mostly syrup (1st batch) are in the back and the ones on top are syrupy with chunks of citrus (1st batch).
Will I do this again?  Well, I'm really not sure, it all depends on if that second batch tastes decent and passes the 'not pancake syrup' test.

Gingered pears

What do you do when you find a really good deal on something?  Buy it, get it home and then figure out how you are going to deal with it.  Such as my luck a couple of days ago with pears.  So I started looking for a good recipe in my Ball Complete book (page 69).  I found a recipe for Ginger Pear Preserves and decided that was it, for all the pears.  Spent a few hours peeling, coring and chopping the pears, juicing and zesting limes and I was ready.  Had enough for 3 batches.  First batch in, I couldn't get to gel stage no matter how long I cooked, it ended up as mush.  It started getting darker in color so I jarred it up anyway and hoped for at least a soft set.  Second and third batches I decided to use Sure Jell and went ahead and attacked the pears with the hand blender, same color developed and they still haven't set.  So I'm figuring that either the fact that I used beet sugar instead of cane sugar had something to do with it or the hard water residue on the pans complicated things.  Don't know.  I'll still have a very delicious ginger pear glaze though, I'm already envisioning this on pork chops, as a salad dressing, something to spice up a boxed cake mix with, lots of ideas!!
6 half pints and 8 pints

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Orange you glad I tried it?

I saw a copy of The Farmer's Wife Canning and Preserving Cookbook a few weeks ago and copied down what I thought was the most simple orange marmalade recipe that I had ever seen.  Just in case I ever decided to make it, you know?  Recipe hoarder that I am.  Well, I finally bought the book and started on a couple of batches of this stuff since I was able to get about 10 pounds of navel oranges on sale yesterday.  It's on pg 67, English Orange Marmalade c. 1913.  Since this recipe is in a book that's being sold I'll refrain from posting the recipe.

Anyway, I had forgotten how much I disliked the smell of oranges until about halfway through the 3 hour cooking process.  Then I couldn't get the pulp to reach a gel stage, so it had to cook even longer.  One thing I did do was take the hand blender to it as the rinds were not cooking down like they are supposed to.  After 3 hours they were still fairly stiff, this changed after I blended them a bit, they softened up quite a bit within a half hour.  We were hitting the 5 hour mark before I considered the stuff ready to toss in jars, I'm hoping it sets.  This will be one recipe I probably won't try again unless it gets rave reviews!

I did end up with 12 half pints and 5 pints that were literally pinging as I set them down on the towel to cool.  Has to be the fastest vacuum I've ever set on a jar.  If they don't set they will be a very orangy pancake syrup!
Now for the rest of the oranges.......

Friday, August 13, 2010

Brussel Sprouts. Yep I pickled them.

So I found another interesting recipe and decided to try it.  You can find the conversation here post number 3703, follow it a few posts and you get this recipe:

Hot spiced Brussels Sprouts

2lbs Brussels Sprouts
21/2 cups water
4 heads dill
21/2 cups vinegar
1t cayenne pepper
4 garlic cloves (opt)
3T pickling salt
4 heads dill (opt)
2 jalapeno peppers or 1 habanero pepper

Cook whole Brussels sprouts until just tender. Pack in hot sterilized pint jars. Combine water, vinegar, salt, dill, cayenne pepper, hot peppers (left whole but cut top off and take out seeds). Wear gloves when working with hot peppers. Cook vinegar solution for 10 minutes. Remove hot peppers and pour over Brussels sprouts, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Add a clove of garlic, 1 extra dill head, a slice of hot pepper in jar (optional). Adjust sterilized lids and process pints 15 minutes in boiling–water bath canner. Makes about 4 pints

I doubled it.  Not having any fresh dill heads I used dill weed, 1 tsp per pint and 1 tbsp per quart.  I also used chilies de arbol in the jars as well.  Gave me 2 quarts and 4 pints.  I used apple cider vinegar since white vinegar was not specifically called for in the recipe.

A little bit of Chow Chow

And no, not the big fluffy puppy either.  Southern chow chow relish.  Usually made with green tomatoes and red bell peppers.  Well, I switched those two items to ripe tomatoes and green bell peppers and followed a fairly simple recipe.

6 cups ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium to large head cabbage, chopped
2 large onions, chopped

3 peppers, chopped
1 c. salt
1 qt. vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. celery seed
2 tbsp. mustard seed

Combine tomatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers and salt. Let set overnight. The next day drain, add other ingredients. Cook 1 hour on medium heat. Pour in jars and seal. Water bath 20 minutes.

I made this easier by not salting the tomatoes which were already falling apart, the knife was crushing them fairly well as it was.  I also pulsed the veggies in the food processor since it can chop finer than I canI ended up with 9 pints.

Green Tomatoes Anyone

A friend of mine was wonderful enough to gift me her green tomatoes from a plant she was having to pull up, along with a few ripe ones as well. What to do? Pickled Green Tomatoes. Her recipe too.

Green tomatoes, sliced
Onions sliced
½ cup pickling salt
1 c. white sugar,
1 c. dark brown sugar,
1pint cider vinegar,
2tbsp mustard seeds,
1 tsp celery seeds,
2 bay leaves, crumbled

Sprinkle the cut up tomatoes with salt and let set overnight, then drain the water off, before making the pickles. Bring vinegar, sugars and spices to a boil with your onions in it slowly for ten minutes, then add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes before putting in the jars.
Let sit four to six weeks before eating

So I made it again this year and processed it this time instead of putting it in the fridge. Water bath for 15 minutes. I used 12 cups of sliced tomatoes and one really huge onion and ended up with 4 quarts.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ok... so I cheated this time

I picked up a packet put out by Mrs. Wages.  The Kosher Dill one.  I decided to try it.  With the last of the cucumbers and a few I begged for, and a few zucchini  and onions I tossed in because I didn't think I'd have enough, I made the last of my cucumber pickles this year.  This does not mean I won't consider pickling something else, keep that in mind!

After listening and reading reviews from people and several sites I decided to up the flavor quotient just a tad by adding a clove of roasted garlic and 1/2 tsp dill weed to every pint (1/4 tsp to the half pint).  I also added some Pickle Crisp to each jar.  For those of you thinking they stopped making it, you were right, they apparently started making it again this year!  I was lucky enough to lay my hands on a jar.

So anyway, the pickles.  I decided to do them in spears since most were too gangly for pint jars and ended up with a bunch that were just right for half pint jars.  Knowing someone will inevitably want a jar, these will be available for gifts/trade/etc.  What I ended up with is 8 pints, 5 half pints of the cucumber pickles and 3 pints, 2 half pints of the zucchini pickles.  All had a sliver or two of onion in them as well.
The cucumber pickles:
And the zucchini pickles:
I am now ready to put the canner to bed for a few weeks but..... I have green tomatoes coming tomorrow.. they are getting pickled!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ruby red white peaches!

I pulled the last bit of peaches off my white peach tree the other day and there wasn't quite enough to make a batch of peach butter and jelly is just not one of my things.  I mean if I'm going to have to peel them anyway I don't want to just toss away the flesh and keep only the juice.  It's a fiber, whole fruit thing, I know.  So I just peeled, pitted, quartered and packed into jars with an extra light syrup.  25 minutes in the water bath and viola, 7 pints of ruby red syrup with peaches.  They look cool don't they?
And before you ask, yes, they will eventually settle to the bottom, same for the apples in the previous entry, it takes a few days.
I also made 12 more half pints of banana butter today.  Apparently it's a big hit for peanut butter sandwiches around here and has become a "when are you making more" thing.  This time though I made a very large batch and it took forever to cook down.  As a result it browned a little more than the last batch.  But that's ok, it tastes the same.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

White apples

While at the farmer's market in town today there was a lady selling white apples.  I decided I'd get them, almost an entire plastic shopping bag.  I had no idea what I was going to do with them honestly.  Jelly?  Apple Pie Filling?  Apple butter? 
Once home I decided I'd just can them in extra light syrup from the Ball Complete Preserving Book (seriously, go buy a copy, lots of good stuff in there). 
Yeah.  My hand still hurts from peeling, cutting, coring (don't have a fancy coring/slicing gadget that works!).  But it's done and I have 12 pints cooling off as I type this.

 Not that I've ever heard of white apples but I can tell you this, they are a bit on the tart side, very dense flesh similar to kieffer pears and you really should peel them before you slice them up, that light color skin blends in really well and makes it difficult to see what you have and haven't peeled in a bucket of slices.

A peck of pickled peppers

Well, maybe a half to three quarters of a peck.
Looks pretty doesn't it?  Yep it does, but for me it's also a terrifying sight.  Just one little piece of those could set off a really bad allergic reaction where my throat starts to swell and my lungs feel like they are underwater.  It's like a massive asthma attack.
Now you are asking why I would even get near the things, right?  Well I can handle them as long as the fruit has not been cut or any juices have been exposed.  Hubby LOVES them, well so do I but that doesn't count.  So I don my pepper 'hazmat' suit consisting of elbow length rubber gloves and either a respirator (if I'm cutting them) or a handkerchief over my nose and mouth, and set to work.
What's the recipe?  Well I was playing on BYC and visited the canning thread, it's post number 3573 here
Posted by chickencrazymamahen
I grow robustini and pepperoncini's and this is what I do.  Soak the peppers 24 hrs. in a solution of 1 C lime and 1 C salt per gallon of water, in the fridge.  Rinse well, cut 2 slits in each pepper and crush lightly with hand to open slits slightly; pack in jars. 

3 C white vinegar
1 C water
3 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP pickling salt
1 garlic clove per jar

Mix brine together (except garlic) and bring to boil, boil 5 minutes; place one garlic clove in each jar.  Fill with boiling brine, when adding hot brine, mash peppers some with wooden spoon so brine will enter peppers. remove air bubbles.  Cap and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath, start counting as soon as jars are placed in boiling water.

*for each 4 qts. of peppers, triple brine.

 I figured this would have to work for habaneros and jalapenos as well so I tried it, though I did make a few changes to suit hubby's tastes.  The garlic was roasted cloves that I keep in the freezer, and I added a half teaspoon each of mustard and coriander seed to each jar.  Also, instead of slitting the peppers, I opted for poking holes in them with a corn cob holder fork thing so it looks like I have miniature pepper sucking vampires in my kitchen attacking my peppers.  I put at least 8 holes in each, at least!  Yet another tip found somewhere on the web.  Sure did make it easier on me, I didn't have to don the respirator while working.

What I ended up with:
7 pints of habaneros

 And 4 pints of jalapenos

And the bonus is I only needed 1 dose of benadryl for the entire day and I won't have to do this again for a couple of years!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Peach Butter

Well, my canning adventures have slowed down a bit with the lack of incoming cannable goodies, though I did get a bunch of habaneros today that will be processed by tomorrow, they are getting limed tonight.  Anyway, in my 'slow' time I figured I'd give you the low down on my peach butter.  Not the stuff in the Ball book, mine.

Whole Peach Butter.  Interesting concept.  Whole peach butter.  But you ask, isn't all peach butter whole?  Nope.  I shall explain......
I have 4 peach trees on the property.  Most of them give me golf ball sized, white flesh, tart peaches.  Do you have ANY idea how hard and time consuming it is to peel that many peaches?  I do.  It ain't pretty.  And the skins don't just slip off when you blanch them like they are supposed to.  So I asked myself how not to waste them.  I came up with an idea and tried it.  It was an absolute success.

Since I have so many I decided not to measure anything up front, just fill pot and go, taste for sweetness, make sure it gets to a soft set and get it into jars.  The directions go like this:

Pick the peaches, if you have some dropping already that aren't fully ripe, that's fine, get them too, helps form the gel.  Wash them off in just plain old water and let them sit in the water until they cool down to room temp, this helps with the peach fuzz, which I swear is identical to fiberglass and can be really itchy. 

Once ready get the BIGGEST stock pot you own, set it on the lowest heat setting you have, pour in a little water to keep from scorching and start with the peaches.  All you do is cut in half, remove pit, evict any worms and their mess (no pesticides used here), remove anything bad, toss in the pot and repeat until the pot is as full as you can get it.  Put a lid on it and leave it alone until the peaches start breaking down.  Stir it at this point and it should have reduced down by a third.  You don't have to do anything here but remove the lid and watch it but.... I add more.  Yes, you read that right, I start adding more, I fill it up as full as I can get it and keep cooking it on low.
Here's what that looks like:
Looks like a gloppy mess doesn't it?  Well that's what it's supposed to look like so keep cooking down, stir it on occasion, leave the lid off.  I have to keep my stove on low otherwise it burns the natural sugar in the peaches and I loose a batch so for me it's a loooong process, takes 2 to 3 days.  You can also do this in a crock pot set on low, with the lid propped up on one end, overnight I'm told but..... I've burnt a batch by ignoring it like that.  If I use the crock pot I watch it really closely, if it starts getting really dark or supper sticky on the edges I turn it off for a few hours and stir, eventually I turn it back on again.  I also set the lid on top of bamboo chopsticks over the crock so that the mush can evaporate.

Once everything looks good and mushy, I like to bring out the stick/hand blender and puree it right there in the pot, less mess that way.  And keep cooking down.  Once it gets down to about half the volume at of the pot, taste test.  It should be fairly thick and near sheeting off a spoon at this point, if not keep cooking down.  Mine is tart due to the type of peaches, but it's really tasty. 

This is when I add sugar.  It's usually about 1/4 of the volume of peach mush, I eyeball it honestly.  For my crock pot it's normally 4 cups, for the stock pot it's normally 6 cups.  After getting the sugar completely mixed in, cook it down to the level it was at before the sugar was added.  By this point it should be sheeting off a spoon and will be a soft spread once canned.

Fill jars slowly to help avoid air bubbles, the bubbles are almost impossible to get out of this stuff once they are there.  Leave 1/2 inch head space.  Water bath for 20 minutes.
At this point in the year I have canned 25 pints, 3 quarts, and 2 half pints.  Right now I'm fighting with the green beetles over the peaches so I haven't put up a batch this week, I should have enough for at least one more batch tomorrow.

And to give you an idea on yield, my 7 quart crock pot if filled and topped off with more (like what I mentioned before) normally gives me 7 pints.  My stock pot filled and topped off with more can give me up to 9 pints at a time.

Nope, it's not your everyday fare.  It's not even spiced, though you could do that before you fill your jars if you wanted.  But it is WHOLE fruit and nothing but fruit and sugar.  No artificial anything, no fillers, no crap.  And for hubby, he likes making peanut butter and peach butter sandwiches on whole wheat nearly everyday for lunches and snacks.  I just hope I made and can keep making, enough to last until next year when the peaches start dropping again.

Off to finish cleaning the peppers and to find where I hid that bag of lime.....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pickles, the old way

After reading several books on preserving as well as several other blogs and forums I decided to give fermented pickles a try, just to see what all the hype was about.  I'm glad I did.
But first a disclaimer: If in doubt, throw it out.  Don't risk your life if you don't think something smells right, looks right, etc. just because you want to try something new.
That said and out of the way.... this is what I did:

Wanting to try this for a while I started looking for a pickle crock.  My budget screamed at the prices of a real pickle crock and I nearly gave up even thinking about trying this until I had an epiphany in the middle of Wal-Mart.  I was in the cooking gadets section, looked down and saw a glass cookie jar for a whole $8.  MUCH cheaper than the $50 to $60 (+ shipping) a crock would have run.  So I bring it home and pull up the one recipe I would be willing to give a try, after all it's Alton Brown's recipe and his normally work the best for me.
  • 5 1/2 ounces pickling salt, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 gallon filtered water
  • 3 pounds pickling cucumbers, 4 to 6-inches long
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed
  • 1 large bunch dill
Combine the salt and water in a pitcher and stir until the salt has dissolved.
Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off the blossom end stem. Set aside.
Place the peppercorns, pepper flakes, garlic, dill seed and fresh dill into a 1-gallon crock. Add the cucumbers to the crock on top of the aromatics. Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers in order to completely cover. Pour the remaining water into a 1-gallon ziptop plastic bag and seal. Place the bag on top of the pickles making sure that all of them are completely submerged in the brine. Set in a cool, dry place.
Check the crock after 3 days. Fermentation has begun if you see bubbles rising to the top of the crock. After this, check the crock daily and skim off any scum that forms. If scum forms on the plastic bag, rinse it off and return to the top of the crock.
The fermentation is complete when the pickles taste sour and the bubbles have stopped rising; this should take approximately 6 to 7 days. Once this happens, cover the crock loosely and place in the refrigerator for 3 days, skimming daily or as needed. Store for up to 2 months in the refrigerator, skimming as needed. If the pickles should become soft or begin to take on an off odor, this is a sign of spoilage and they should be discarded.

I followed this recipe to the letter with the exception of the pepper flakes, I have allergies and peppers are #1 on the list.  I did change how the crock was to be set up, I used a butter dish lid to put over the cukes and turned the glass top upside down to hold everything under the brine.  Worked pretty well actually.  Here's the hardware:
I placed my crock in my main pantry, where the cats would not be able to mess with it and knock it over.  Started it on a Monday evening, checked for flavor on Thursday and decided to wait a few more days, they just weren't quite fermented through yet.  Saturday they were ready and I put them in fridge receptacles this morning.  Let me tell you, the house smelled wonderful all week, all dill and garlic.  It was nice.  The brine did get a little cloudy, but then again our AC isn't on all the time and it doesn't get below 80 even when it's on so it was a little warm.  They taste so different it's amazing, and the crunch!  Wow!  On my to-do-again list!

What I tossed in the fridge today:

Jamming Onions

I found another recipe that I wanted to try, Caramelized Onion Jam.  Sounds great doesn't it?  I found it here
  • 4 whole garlic bulbs
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 5 cups chopped sweet onions (1-1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 pouch (3 ounces) liquid fruit pectin
  • Remove papery outer skin from garlic (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut top off garlic bulbs; brush with oil. Wrap each bulb in heavy-duty foil. Bake at 425° for 30-35 minutes or until softened. Cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • In a Dutch oven, saute onions in butter for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned. Squeeze softened garlic into pan. Stir in the cider vinegar, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, ginger and cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Gradually add sugar, stirring constantly. Return to a boil for 3 minutes.
  • Add pectin; bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; let stand for 3 minutes. Skim off foam. Pour hot mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Adjust caps. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath.
I followed everything almost exactly with the exception of the mustard powder, you guessed, I was out, so I substituted more ginger instead.  But..... it didn't gel as well as I would have hoped, it still tastes totally awesome though.  Can't wait to try it as a glaze on chicken or pork tenderloin!

Pickled peppers

Instead of trying to find some way to use all hubby's peppers before they go bad I decided to pickle them when we get enough to fill a jar.  The recipe is simple and is a per pint basis.

1/2 tsp each black peppercorns, coriander seed, minced garlic, pickling salt, granulated sugar
1bay leaf
peppers to fill the pint jar, we have all hot peppers but use what you have.

Dump spices etc in jar, slit the peppers in several places or slit all the way through the bottoms so that the vinegar can enter them.  Heat vinegar on stove and pour over peppers, kinda mash around with a spoon or something to help empty the air pockets in the peppers and top off with vinegar, allowing 1/2" head space.  Water bath for 15 minutes (for longer term storage) or toss in fridge.  Let sit for 2 weeks before using.

Totally Eat-able

I ran across the most interesting recipe on one of the forums I frequent and it was just so out of the ordinary that I had to try it.  Zucchini Candy, which can be found here with additional little tid-bits.  I know what you are thinking, something along the lines of 'what the heck' but trust me, it's awesome!
Zucchini Candy
10 cups peeled diced zucchini 1/2 inch cubes

3 cups water
2 pkgs. unsweetened Koolaid
2 1/2 cups sugar
Peel zucchini, dice, removing seeds. Mix the liquid syrup together. Add zucchini. Bring to a boil and them simmer for 25 min. Drain. Put on dehydrator trays. Dry 14 hours at 125 degrees. Turn pieces over and dry another 4 hours. This will feel dry and not sticky when done. Store in jars or other tightly sealed containers.If you dip in sugar when you turn them, they will be more like "gum drops" on the outside.

Knowing my dehydrator and it's tenancy to eat diced foods I just peeled, scraped out the seeds and sliced into crescents about 1/4" thick (I wasn't thinking by that point, I was just hacking away, next time they will be a bit thicker).  Based on what I had seen mentioned about the amount of syrup I decided to just add zucchini until I couldn't fit anymore in the amount of syrup, possibly around 15 cups but since I didn't measure, I can't be for sure.
I used the black cherry flavor Koolaid, since it's one of my more favorite flavors and filled my dehydrator almost to capacity.  Then promptly forgot about it until this morning, say 18 hours?  I let it cool and started retrieving the gummy worms, ahem, zucchini.  Mine were still a bit tacky so I tossed in some granulated sugar and ended up with this:

 5 cups of totally insane 'candy'.  And it's delicious!!  I so wish I had my own zucchini this year!!
Imagine candy that's somewhat good for you, has fiber, can count as a veggie serving, looks fun and tastes great.  I'm already planning flavors for the next batch.  I may have to get out my spare dehydrator.