Preserving our Harvest

Rambling Preamble: I wrote this post over a month ago, and never bothered to hit “publish” … ack! I figured the post still had merit, tardiness notwithstanding, so here ’tis, in all its late-coming glory. Maybe next time I won’t be quite so lackadaisical, although I’m not promising anything. 

Our garden overfloweth! This is a fantastic situation, in my opinion, but I have to work hard to keep up with our veggies. Of late, I have been pickling, canning, freezing, and drying in order to preserve the bounty our garden is providing. Of course, we are also eating what we can while it is fresh, but there are only so many beans that one can handle on any given day. Here’s what’s up!

Pickled Gingery Beets

Using beautiful, striped chioggia beets from the garden, I whipped up some ginger-flavored pickled beets. I followed the recipe as given in the Food in Jars cookbook, with one alteration: After reading many pickled beets recipes, I noticed that the processing time for hot-water bath canning was 30 minutes, as opposed to the 10 minutes listed in the recipe. Therefore, I decided that this processing time might be an error, and decided to ere on the side of caution by processing 30 minutes. The beets took on a lovely pink color during processing, and happily, all jars sealed. We have an abundance of beets, so I will likely repeat this recipe again in the coming week. I’m still trying to recall why I planted five rows of beets at once. I’ll say it once more: Five rows of beets. I mean, I love beets, but …

 

Pickled Dill Beans

Bush beans are a gift that keeps on giving! The other day, Mr. Thistle graciously harvested six pounds of tri-color bush beans, all whilst ham-radioing. Four pounds of those beans were cut, blanched, and frozen, but I took the other two pounds and prepared a small batch of Pickled Dill Beans. I patently refuse to call these beans as they are oft known: “Dilly Beans.” Something about that nickname irritates me, so I tend to avoid it. Pickled Dill Beans it is! Once again, I utilized a recipe from Food in Jars.   I had to run out and purchase dill seed before beginning, however, because I didn’t have enough seed on my flowering dill plants, and the recipe noted that the dill weed portion would not be a tasty substitute (slimy = not pleasant). This leads me to the following tangential musing: Why, oh why, did it ever become a thing (if one can really call it a thing) to call someone a dill-weed and have it be insulting? Mysteries abound.

Pickled Red Cabbage

I used a riff on an old Eastern European traditional recipe to prepare some pickled red cabbage with the red cabbages from our garden. The process involved lightly salting the shredded cabbage and letting it sit, and a day later heating it up with all kinds of spices, and canning it. Smelled great! It’s in the root cellar for a wintry day.

 

Fermented Pepper Sauce

Our pepper plants really showed up this year. Holla. We typically have good luck with hot peppers, aside from the Carolina Reapers we tried to germinate last year. Even with a grow-lamp we didn’t have any luck with those, although we wouldn’t be opposed to trying again, since Mr. Thistle has a taste for spicy-blow-your-face-off peppers. For my hot pepper ferment, I combined a healthy number of habaneros, Hinklehatz, and Thai chiles. I chopped all of these in the food processor with four cloves of garlic, and packed them into a quart-size mason jar. Right now they are happily fizzing away on my counter, and all I need to do is remember to give them a decent stir each day with a clean spoon. The scent of the fermenting peppers is tantalizing, and we are excited to taste the resulting sauce in a few weeks!

 

Pickled Jalapeños 

Lots of pickling going on around here, eh? I harvested a nice pile of jalapeños and rendered them into twelve jars of pickled jalapeños. These are a pantry staple for us, so I would be devastated, distraught, and otherwise desolate if I didn’t take care of this little task. Jalapeños are such an easy and quick pickle, so I was glad to get some put away. Again, Food in Jars has a good recipe for pickled jalapeños.

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Nectarines

Finally! A non-pickled item! (I swear we do not eat that much pickled stuff). I canned about 18 pounds of fresh, local nectarines. The nice thing about nectarines is that you can put them up with the skins on: no peeling required! The one annoyance was that while these were free stones, the pits split very easily, so I ended up treating them like clingstones anyway. It’s my understanding that our early spring cold spell had something to do with it. I referred to my Ball Complete Book of Canning for this preparation, and followed the instructions for substituting nectarines for peaches. I opted to do a hot-pack, but I still ended up with a bit of float. What’s the deal? If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

 

Miscellaneous Summer Food

I have been freezing some sweet corn and drying some hot peppers from the garden when there are any left over. It’s hard to believe that the summer bounty is winding down, so we are enjoying while it lasts. Before you know it, all we’ll be hearing about is pumpkin-spiced-everything. Update: One month later this prophesy has come true …

What Else?

I have spent most of my summer garden energy focusing on edibles. I have, of late, noticed that some of my flower beds are … well … a little less than lovely. There are a number of weeds plants out of place present in my front flower garden, which makes me wonder if I may be attracting whispers from the neighbors as they make their daily perambulations. If I were them, I would probably look askance too  … just sayin’ …

How is your summer winding down? Have you preserved anything this year?

With Peace,

Jennie

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