October 18, 2008
Home Canning is getting “Back To Basics” for me…back to my childhood. During the summer, I could be found along side my mom at the kitchen sink canning bushels of fruit and veggies for the approaching winter. It wasn’t much fun at the time… being out with my friends was far more appealing. After my marriage license was sign, I swore, the wretched activity would never be repeated again.
Wrong! About the middle of each June, my mom would call on the phone. “The beets are on,” she would chirp. Acting like a robot, I would order the beets from the farmer. This ritual, in some form, would be repeated the entire summer and into the fall.
So…here we go… with a list of the wretched activity that was not going to be part of my married life.
June: picked beets, strawberry jam, apricots, apricot nectar, apricot jam, dried apricot, dried apricot leather, cherries, cherry jam, frozen pie cherries, dried cherry leather, maraschino cherries, Queen Anne cherries.
July: dill pickles, sweet pickles, sweet pickle relish, bread and butter pickles, dilly beans, mustard pickles, pickled vegetables, frozen corn.
August: peaches, peach jam, pears, pear butter, dried pears, plums, dried plums, frozen fruit compote, raspberry jam
September: tomato juice, snappy tom, stewed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, chili sauce, salsa, green tomato relish.
October: chili, bottled fresh trout, corned deer meat, apple sauce, apple pie filling, dried apples, grape juice
I now look at the list of items I preserved in the past and it makes my brain rattle in my head. However, there was great pleasure in going into my fruit room and seeing all the bottles lined up on the shelves. When the door was closed there was a sense of security and a feeling of well being in my soul.
When my kids were small, the home canning helped my family through some tough financial times. It was then, I felt gratitude toward Mom… who taught me well.
Still, one year I let a bushel of apples rot on the back porch… just too exhausted to put them in canning jars. When they ended up in the garbage… I said to myself, “Enough is enough… my canning days are over.” However, I did keep all my canning jars.. just in case I ever changed my mind.
For years, the case lot sales was the direction I went for my winter supply. I won’t tell you how many years ago that was… but as the years went by… my memory dulled… and the hankering to do a little home canning came back. At that point, I home canned just for pleasure. A little of this and a little of that.
This year…my hankering was a pretty strong and I dragged out my canning supplies. Dill pickles, tomato juice, stewed tomatoes, and whole tomatoes sit on my storage shelves. One afternoon… a bushel of peaches landed in the back of my car. Hmmm… what’s this all about? It was the “Back To Basics” stirring in my soul…. and the fact I need to be better prepared for an emergency.
Now, everyone doesn’t have the availability of the fruits and veggies to take on home canning… and in some cases… it might be less expensive to go to the case lot sale and purchase the items. My shelves have case goods on them too.
The point I’m trying to make is, whether you do a little home canning or buy case lots, having a little extra food on hand in case of an emergency can put your mind and heart at ease. And, if no emergency arises… great…. additional food on your shelves is sure convenient.
But… since you never know… it’s best to be prepared.
P.S. We had our first frost here in Utah County… and the grapes are ready… Hmmm… got that “Back To Basics” feeling stirring again in my soul again. Cold frosty grape juice would sure be nice in January. Apples…. applesauce…. pie filling…….Hmmm.
September 13, 2008
Canning Dill pickles, using my Grandma Ella’s recipe, was just one of the many items I canned during the summer months, many years ago. I don’t do much canning anymore… due to time and expense.
However, it’s September, the canning feeling is in the air and I was at Farmer Grant’s produce stand day- before-yesterday… and a peck of cucumbers spoke to me.
In fact, before I knew it… the peck of cucumbers and two bags of fresh dill were in my car before I even had time to think about it. “What the…. I don’t have time for this and there is not one earthly nutritional benefit for having dill pickles in my food storage,” I said to myself.
Then I said, “I want to do this… just for me… for fun.” I never thought I would ever say that canning would be fun after “putting up” hundreds of bushels of produce in the past. But, at this moment in time… it’s fun.
So here we go. I want to share with you, my Grandma Ella’s Homemade Dill Pickle recipe. Mmmmm… they’re so good!
Here’s what you need:
A. 1 peck of cucumbers. Now I never buy the ones the farmer says are “Dills.” I go the next size smaller. They fit better in the bottle and are “cruncher.”
B. 1 gal. of white vinegar.
C. Fresh dill. You need a dill head for each bottle which should include stems and pieces. (this recipe will do between 12 and 14 quarts.)
D. Alum (that’s for the pucker.)
E. Salt ( don’t use iodized salt, it will cause the solution to become cloudy.)
F. 1 garlic bud or clove for each bottle.
G. One grape leaf for each bottle. (They say it keeps the pickles crisp. I don’t know if that’s true but Grandma Ella did it… so who am I to argue with success.) I raid my neighbors grape leaves, since I don’t grow grapes.
H. You will need clean wide mouth jars, rims and lids. (12 -14)
Make your vinegar solution: 1 Qt. Vinegar. 3 Qt’s water. 1 C Salt. (This recipe is solution for 6 or 7 quarts.
In each jar, place a grape leave in the bottom. Add one peeled garlic clove, 1 pinch of alum (that’s what grandma said.) but it equates to about 1/8 tes. of alum. At least one dill flower head and a bunch of stems and pieces. It looks like weeds in there but it’s okay. (This is a lousy photo… but you get the drift.)
Now, put the cucumbers in the jar. With these smaller cukes…I can get about 5 or 6 in a jar… just force them in there tight.
I place my bottles on top of my canner bottom and let the steam rise up around them. Or, you can just place the jars in a large frying pan with boiling water and let the steam come up around them. My lids and rims are in a little pan of water… boiling away… and my solution is boiling too. Everything needs to be hot!
Fill one hot jar with the solution.
Take from the boiling water, one lid and rim.
Place it on the filled jar. Tighten the hot jar rim and set your bottle aside.
Repeat the process until you have all the jars filled.
It’s important for you keep everything hot… cause we’re not going to process these bottles. Nope.. No way.. makes the cucumbers soft… and Grandma Ella didn’t do it… and it works… and we’re not dead from any little micro bug. Besides… with all that vinegar and salt… anything bacteria that would have been alive is now… long gone.
There you have it….Homemade Dill Pickles. It’s not hard and they’re so good… BUT…HERE’S THE DEAL… you can’t open a jar until THANKSGIVING. Nope… keep your mitts off until Thanksgiving day. I know it’s tempting. Another reason to celebrate Turkey Day!
It takes that long for the pickles to cure in the brine… but it’s well worth the wait.
P.S. I wonder what else is going to end up in my car… so I can do a bit of canning… just for fun.
P.P.S. If you want a printable recipe for your files, fill in the box below so I can send you the link.
Besides… once you sign in… You’ll be on my freebie list and I’ll be sending you all kinds of fun things… especially for the holidays. You won’t have to sign in again.
July 31, 2008
Harvest time for Tomatoes is generally from the third week in July until the frost takes them in the fall. So… the minute the tomatoes are ready to pick I’m right there with my salt shaker.
Tomatoes piled high in bushel baskets would sit on our back porch waiting for my mom to put up them into bottles. The minute mom’s back was turned, the big dark red juicy one on the top vanished into my pocket. With salt shaker in hand, I would duck behind the fence and take my first bite of the season. Oh my… what a glorious moment… juice running down my hand and all. To this day… my first tomato of the year is eaten warm…and whole. I manage to control the juice.
In the old days, we could pick a bushel at Camilla Holdaway’s tomato patch for $.50. After my marriage, a bushel of tomatoes was still a great deal at $1.50. Now, your lucky to get a bushel for under $15.00. Not hardly worth bottling at that price.
Oh my gosh… did I ever bottle tomatoes. Whole Tomatoes,Stewed Tomatoes, Spaghetti Sauce, Ketchup, Salsa, Snappy Tom, Tomato Juice, Chili Sauce, Green Tomato Relish. At least 8 to 10 bushels were bottled every year…and at that time, only two little boys were there to help us eat it all. Some how it all vanished by spring.
We even tried to plan our 4th child around the tomatoes season. We wanted a new baby… but not in September when the tomatoes were on! But… you guessed it… Katie was born on Sept 19th. God… in his great wisdom… knew I wouldn’t be canning tomatoes forever.
I still love a fresh picked tomato with salt. This year, when my single tomato plant in my container garden produced tomatoes, the watch was on for the red color to appear. I counted the days until one tomato was just the perfect red…than snap. No cooling off in the fridge and sliced nicely on a plate… no, no. My salt shaker and I appeared at the garden’s edge. A tomato just tastes different when it’s a bit warm and you eat it right from the vine. It’s just the best.
When September rolls around, and the sky is that wonderful azure blue, and there is a bit of fall in the air, the old hankering to bottle tomatoes comes upon me. My Chili Sauce is to die for and the Tomato Juice just can’t be beat. Hmmmm….just maybe….
P.S. Now that the tomato harvest is on… it’s time for Spicy Tomato and Bean Fiesta. Recipe coming soon!