Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 17 - When life hands you cucumbers, make pickles...and other canning helps!

You know how it goes when you have a garden; no matter how hard you try to stagger your planting, a glut of vegetables is always a problem.  Everything seems to be ripe at once, and doorbell ditching your neighbors with zucchini is one option, canning the excess veggies is another.  

In a post the other day I shared on of my favorite new books, Canning for the Next Generation.  It has some excellent "not your grandma's canning" recipes.  The following ARE your grandma's canning recipes, and there's nothing wrong with that.  These are tried and true, and require nothing more than time, ingredients, and some basic canning equipment.  

I've shared some of my canning on the blog before, like salsa and peaches, and my basic canning equipment checklist.  There are instructions on how to can all over the internet.  If you have never canned before and would like to try, here's an Intro To Canning pdf file from Ball.  I've collected my canning equipment over the years and just have basic enamel canners in a large and small size.  That means I can only process acidic foods since I don't use a pressure canner.  I've been looking for one for a while, and I'm coveting my mom's find of a pressure canner at a garage sale for under $10 since they cost over $70.

(I've noticed, at least in our area, that it is really hard to find canning jars and equipment.  Seems like everyone is getting in touch with their inner Homemaker and are growing and preserving their own food.  That's awesome, but now I can't go to a garage sale and find a box of canning jars for a couple of bucks anymore!)

The other three canning tools I use are a jar lifter, a magnet on a stick (not sure what it's really called!) for getting the lids and bands out of the hot water, and a jar funnel.  I have a plastic funnel, but found this lovely black enamel one at a thrift store!

Suggested supplies are:
  • Sauce pan 
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups 
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knives 
  • Ladle
  • Large spoon 
  • Non-metallic spatula
  • Dish rags
  • A Water bath Canner
  • And of course, your jars, lids and rings.

These recipes take some time because the pickling liquid needs to sit on the vegetables to get the pickling process going. 

Sweet Relish

6 medium cucumbers
3 green or red bell peppers
6 medium onions
1/4 cup pickling salt
3 cups sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1/2 tsp. turmeric

Wash cucumbers.  Chop finely.  Wash and chop the peppers, discarding stems and seeds.  Peel and chop the onions.  Measure and combine in a bowl 6 cups of cucumbers, 3 cups of peppers and 3 cups of onions.  Sprinkle with the salt and add cold water to cover.  Cover loosely and let the bowl of veggies sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

After two hours, pour vegetable mixture into colander set in a sink.  Rinse with fresh water and let it drain well.

In a 4-quart non-reacting pot combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed, and turmeric.  Heat to boiling.  Add the drained vegetables; return to boiling.  Cook over medium-high heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or till most of the excess liquid has evaporated.

Ladle relish into hot, clean half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe the jar rims; adjust lids.  Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars from the canner and cool.  Let sit 24 hours before moving.  Makes 7 half-pints.


Pickled Three-Bean Salad
3 cups 2-3 inch green beans
2  16oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2  16oz cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (1 medium) sliced onion
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup (1 medium) sliced green bell pepper
2 1/2 cups water 
2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
1 Tablespoon pickling salt

Prepare green beans by washing, snapping off ends and cutting to length.  Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Cool in ice water, then drain well.  Combine beans with remaining vegetables in a large bowl and set aside.  In a saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and pickling salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Pour hot vinegar mixture over vegetables and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day bring everything to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Immediately fill hot pint jars with vegetables, leaving 1-inch head space.  Carefully run a non-metallic utensil down inside of jars to remove trapped air bubbles, then wipe jar tops and threads clean with a damp dish rag.  Put the hot lids on jars and screw bands on firmly.  Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

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