I can probably count the number of times we had store-bought jam, pickles or salsa in the fridge in my house growing up on one hand; every summer my family (just my mother and I as I got older and more interested in food preservation, and my brother got less interested) would go picking a variety of berries - strawberries and raspberries mostly - and and then make dozens of jars of jam both to eat and give away. When we moved into a house with a yard that allowed for it we started growing tomatoes, cucumbers, dill and (for the first time this year!) garlic for making our own homemade pickles and salsa. Since becoming an employee of TapRoot and after not being able to garden at all this year save for a small flower box and grow bag of tomatoes, I decided to do my pickling with produce from our lovely farm :).
This year at TapRoot we currently have two different pickling packs available (for dilly beans or cucumbers, as well as bulk cucumbers for bread and butter pickles) and hopefully more variety coming soon! I got myself one of each of the pickling packs and grabbed a couple of zukes and carrots that I had in my fridge from the weeks shares to make a couple jars of "mixed" pickles.
First assemble all your ingredients, I used:
One dilly cucumber pickling pack containing 10 pounds cucumbers, two heads of garlic and a bunch of dill
One dilly bean pack containing the same, replacing the cucumbers with 5 lbs of yellow beans
10 small carrots *
One green and one yellow zucchini *
Dried cayenne peppers *
Red pepper flakes *
Mixed peppercorns *
Fresh thyme and basil *
Bernardin pickle crisp - my mom and I use this because we highly value crispy pickles. Mushy = yucky and usually if they're not crispy we end up tossing them anyways.
*These are all optional - I wanted to make some pretty mixed pickle jars for Christmas gifts*
Next we sanitized the jars
There's a couple ways to sanitize your jars - we used our canning pot of boiling water since we had it out already for processing.
While the jars sanitized we scrubbed the cucumbers and let them sit in cold icy water which is supposed to help them retain their crispiness. We also washed and trimmed the beans and prepped the rest of the veggies.
Put our spices in the jars
We use a dill flower and a good little bundle of the leaves - some people use the stem but we don't usually.
For four jars of the beans I used a whole dried cayenne pepper (Thanks, Teri!) and for the other four I used 1/2 tsp of multicoloured peppercorns and 1/4 tsp of dried red pepper flakes.
For my mixed pickles I also did half with cayennes, half with peppers and flakes and I also added fresh thyme and basil from the garden. I put one whole (or two pieces depending on their size) garlic clove in every jar.
Packed in the veggies
Some of my beans are a bit long - you want them trimmed to the neck of the jar. You pack in your veggies so there is no wiggle room, but do not crush the beans or other veg!
Poured in the brine, placed the sanitized snap lids and rings on and processed the jars for ten minutes.
I use a 1:1 ratio of vinegar:water for my brine. You can make a milder brine, even a sweet one for the mixed pickles but I love super salty-vinegary pickles. After pouring in the brine you want to tap it on the counter or poke around the veg with a skewer/chop stick to ensure there are no air bubbles.
I expressed some concern over the dozen or so cucumbers in my crisper at home right now, and asked everyone yesterday while we were making shares to give me some suggestions. Here they are, my favourite being a simple sliced cucumber served with salt and vinegar-- Sounds like this is a pretty common way to enjoy them around here: I had no idea! Reaching out for recipes always yields some gems and good tips!
Cucumber Blueberry Smoothie - From Jem
2 cups garden cucumbers peeled, seeded and cut into chunks.
1 cup low fat vanilla yoghurt
1 cup frozen blueberries
1-2 tbls honey or agave nectar
1 tbls lemon juice.
Place all in blender and blend until smooth.
Crispy Cucumbers and Tomatoes in Dill Dressing - From Jem
Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill weed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cucumbers, sliced
1 cup sliced red onion
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
In a large bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar, salt, dill, pepper, and oil. Add cucumbers, onion, and tomatoes. Toss, and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.
Tangy, Refreshing, Salt and Vinegar Cucumbers - Suggested by Trish and Ronnie
ice cold water ( I use the filtered water from my fridge)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Peel and slice the cucumber. Place in a bowl that is large enough to cover the cucumber with the water.
Cover the cucumber with water.
Add a large splash of vinegar, and the salt
Place the bowl in the fridge and let sit at least 15 minutes, preferably 1/2 hour.
Taste the cucumbers and add more vinegar or salt depending on your taste. Marinate a little longer, drain and enjoy.
Easy Tzatziki Recipe - Suggested by Meagan
1 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
1 English cucumber, seeded, finely grated and drained
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.
For some extra flavor, add some olive oil and some coarsely chopped fresh mint. Serve with crudities at your next party. Brush a pita with some olive oil and sprinkle za'atar on top. Bake in the oven until crispy and serve.
It's also pickling season! Check out Meagan's first TapRoot blog post ever about her Summer Pickling last week, as she made friends with our Dill Pickle Pack as well as our new Dilly Bean Pickling Pack (both listed in Add ons/Products under "Preserving Packs". Meagan and I are working on coming up with a few more preserving packs as the season progresses and more produce become available, due to great feedback from members and popular demand!
Meagan saw that there were peaches coming in this week's fruit shares, and she told me about this great peach cobbler recipe that she has. I am always looking for ways to cook peaches so that hubby Jon can enjoy them, too (he's allergic to raw stone fruit). Here's Meagan's recipe:
Skillet Fruit Cobbler
4 cups sliced and peeled fruit (Peach/blueberry or peach/raspberry are
definitely the best combinations I've tried)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Simmer for ten minutes in an oven safe skillet, remove and keep in a bowl.
1 cup self rising flour (or 1 cup AP flour with 1 1/2 tsp baking
powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
Melt butter in the skillet, add the rest of the ingredients and stir
until well combined. Carefully place fruit evenly over batter and pour
any remaining syrup over. Bake about 40 minutes or until evenly
browned at 350.
And, while I'm at it, here's one of my favourite things to do with peaches - Barbecue them! Here's a recipe, I don't usually follow one as they are good just straight off the grill with ice cream, but cinnamon sugar butter sounds divine!