Category Archives: Pickles, Canning and Freezing

Preserved Figs

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sinkful of figs
I didn’t grow up eating figs, well, except for Fig Newtons, you’re darn tootin!  If you are lucky enough to have a fig tree or two growing in your yard then this little bloggin’ about figs will probably bore you.

But for me, figs are kinda new.  Besides Fig Newton Cookies, my fig history consists of living in the Central California valley where all dried figs harvested in the United States are grown.  Even during my 5 years in the central valley, I never ate a fig.  End of story.  Well, not exactly because I do know that the fig is the most talked about fruit in the Bible and figs were mentioned in a Babylonian hymnbook about 2000 B.C.  Not-to-mention that a fig tree provided the first clothing as noted in the Bible, “…the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons”!

preserved figs biscuits jars
Fast forward to last Christmas when our friends Joan and Ed gave us a jar of homemade fig preserves made from their own fig trees.  Not realizing I should have immediately made biscuits and slathered them with butter and fig preserves, I used them in making a Scripture Cake. They worked beautifully in the cake helping to make it deliciously moist.

This year as the figs began to ripen Joan offered us a couple of pickings since they were going to be out-of-town for a few days during harvest time.

Figs Cooking
I got so excited because I had already eaten a few fresh figs Joan had shared at Community Bible Study.  One thing you should know about my chief culinary consultant, chief gardener and love of my life — he is always ready and willing when I want to go pick fresh fruit or vegetables!  Even though our first picking happened when the temperature was 95 degrees and the humidity matched it drip for drip – we had fun picking the figs. After washing them lightly and pinching the stems off, I added them to a mixture of water, sugar, salt and lemon.  From a recipe found on Deep South Dish I decided if I preserved the figs whole it will give me options how I want to use them in the future.

Fig and biscuits
The amount of sugar used can be increased or decreased based on your personal taste.  I think a light syrup is best because figs are so naturally sweet.  Lemon juice is added to each jar as a natural preservative.  I simmered them for about 45 minutes, just until they turned transparent.  Then the figs were ladled into sterilized jars, filled with some of the syrup, and processed using the water bath method.  I set aside a bowl full of the sweet treats and we had them for breakfast with fresh hot biscuits!

jars preserved figs
It’s best to consult a professional canning resource for details on water bath canning.  Choose figs that are ripe, but still firm and slightly green is okay.  How many jars you get will depend on the size of the figs.  If you don’t want to can them using the water bath method you can refrigerate for up to 6 weeks or you can freeze them for up to 6 months.

Wishing you a bountiful harvest!
Catherine

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ESV

Preserved Figs
 
Preserved figs can be eaten whole, used in a variety of recipes or processed later to make fig paste.
Ingredients
  • 8 cups whole, washed figs
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 lemon, scrubbed and sliced
  • Bottled lemon juice or powdered citric acid
Instructions
  1. Pinch stems from figs. Rinse well and drain.
  2. In a large pot, bring the water, sugar, salt and lemon to a boil. Boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Add the figs, stir, reduce heat to a medium low simmer, and cook for 45 minutes or until figs begin to turn transparent, occasionally stirring.
  3. Ladle figs into sterilized jars, packing fairly tight and spoon syrup to fill, leaving ¼" head space. Add 2 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart or ½ teaspoon citric acid.
  4. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove and let cool without disturbing. Make sure each jar seals.
Notes
Jars that don't seal need to be refrigerated and used within 6 weeks.
Instead of canning using the water bath method figs can be refrigerated for up to 6 weeks or frozen for up to 6 months.
Always Consult a professional canning source for water bath details such as http://www.pickyourown.org/figs_canning.htm

 

 

Spicy Peach Chutney

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Peaches 2013
Got peaches? Our peach crop wasn’t anything near great this year, but our two little peach trees did produce enough peaches that I could make a batch of spicy peach chutney.  I am so glad I decided on the chutney for the use of our few peaches.  This stuff is incredible and has a thousand uses!

slicing peaches
My sous-chef dish-washing mom did all the peeling and slicing of the peaches.

green pepper chopped
My job was to tackle the green peppers, fresh out of the garden and …

Onion
chop up the sweet Vidalia onions!

Peach Chutney cooking
I added garlic, chili powder, mustard seed, brown sugar, vinegar and raisins.  All this is cooked over medium heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the mixture thickens.  The chutney is ladled into hot sterilized jars, sealed, and processed according to safe canning measures.  Click HERE for canning procedures from PickYourOwn.org.

What to do with your peach chutney?

Peach stuffed chicken breast

This isn’t just any ordinary chicken breast … this is peach chutney stuffed chicken breast.

Half stuffed chick breast peachI must beg your forgiveness for bragging but this dish is outstanding!  You will find the chutney recipe below and soon I will post the stuffed chicken breast recipe.

In the meantime, Happy Cooking!

Blessings, Catherine

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, Ephesians 2:19 ESV

Spicey Peach Chutney
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Spicey peach chutney is a perfect addition to baked chicken, fried fish, or a pork tenderloin!
Serves: 6 - ½ pints
Ingredients
  • 4 pounds sliced peeled peaches
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 5 ounces chopped preserved ginger *Optional
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy pot, stir together the peaches, raisins, garlic, onion, chili powder, mustard seed, brown sugar, ginger (optional) and cider vinegar.
  2. Bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat uncovered until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. It will take about 1½ to 2 hours to get a good thick sauce. Stir frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom.
  3. Ladle chutney into hot sterilized jars and process according to safe canning practices.
Notes
For Canning techniques: http://www.pickyourown.org/peachchutney.htm

 

 

 

Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw

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veggie slaw jars

These colors look amazingly delicious … and I’ll let you in on a little known secret — this slaw IS delicious! Just last week Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted pictures and a recipe for vegetable slaw.  Writing as quickly as she could (I am quite sure) she wax poetically about what happens when one discovers  sandwiches, salads, and tacos dressed with sweet and sour crunchy toppings also known as pickled veggies!

sliced peppers
My frig was over-flowing with carrots, red, yellow and orange sweet peppers, and cabbage.  But what started dancing in my head was the rationalization that this healthy veggie slaw would easily give an air of credibility to a finely grilled all-beef hotdog!  One of my worst traits – that I am very good at, is rationalization!

sliced peppers bowl

Veggie slaw can consist of anything you want it to.  Radishes, red, orange and yellow bell peppers, carrots, onions, fresh sugar snaps and Kirby cucumbers, are a few suggestions, but you can use any firm, crunchy vegetable you think will pickle well.

sliced veggies bowl

After slicing up 4 to 5 cups of veggies, I heated up white vinegar, sugar, salt, and mustard seeds.  I divided up the veggie mix into jars and poured the cooled-down mixture over my new crunchy slaw mix.

hot pickled veggies plate
How else can I explain what happened when I kicked the veggies into high gear, pickled the heck out of them and then served them on wonderfully grilled hotdogs for dinner?!!  Just say, YUM!

The vegetables will be lightly pickled after an hour or so and wonderfully pickled within a day.  The good news is it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month or longer.  The bad news is once you start eating this slaw on whatever you fix for lunch –it won’t last that long!  🙂

No canning, vacuum seals, or sterilized jars necessary.  When storing in the refrigerator make sure the vegetables are completely covered in the brine solution.

I used a sharp knife and cut up my veggies by hand.  But a simple mandoline that has julienne blades, a julienne peeler or a food processor with slicing blades will do the trick as well.

pickled slaw on rye

Before I had this post written we gobbled up the slaw on a turkey and cheese sandwich on rye bread.  My Chief Culinary Consultant said of his first bite, “this is an explosion of flavors!”  Well put.  Oh ya, I also put some hot pepper flakes in one jar for him!

Let this pickled slaw be the crowning taste for your picnic lunch!

Happy Pickling!
Catherine

Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw
 
This tasty slaw is the crowning taste for sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, salads, the list is endless. Pack it along on picnics -- it goes with almost anything!
Ingredients
Slaw Mixture
  • 4 to 5 cups mixed slivered or julienned firm, raw vegetables
  • Optional: a few slivers of jalapeno or hot pepper flakes
Pickling Mixture
  • 1 cup Distilled white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 cup cold water
Instructions
  1. Heat vinegar, sugar, salt, and mustard seeds to a simmer in a small, non-reactive* pot over moderate heat, stirring only until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and stir in cold water, which brings down the mixture's temperature. Let cool to lukewarm.
  2. Divide vegetables between 3 or 4 pint jars (or two quart jars). Pour cooled vinegar mixture over the vegetables and refrigerate until needed. Slaw will be lightly pickled within 1 hour and fully pickled within 1 day.
Notes
Choose your favorite firm vegetables for the slaw: radishes, red, orange, yellow, green bell peppers, carrots, fresh sugar snap peas, cucumbers, cabbage or onions!

* Non-reactive pot - do not use an aluminum pot. Stainless steel or a pot sealed with Teflon works well.

The vegetables can be sliced by hand or with a mandoline or julienne peeler works well too!

No canning/vacuum seals/sterilized jars needed. Pickled slaw can be stored in the refrigerator up to a month. Make sure the brine completely covers the vegetables to keep them fresh.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

 

DIY Homemade Dill Pickles

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Dill Pickle Pintes
My Chief gardener started bringing lettuce from the garden a couple of weeks ago.  This past week he brought in the first basket full of yellow squash and cucumbers.  Today, I received my second BIG basket of cucumbers.  It is time to start pickling! Last summer our cucumbers caught a nasty bug and died on the vine.  So no pickles for us.  I know, I know I could have actually bought cucumbers and made pickles last year, but that isn’t nearly as fun as growing the produce, picking it, washing it, and canning it.  I digress.

sliced cucumbers
I don’t have one jar of home canned dill pickles in my pantry.  Months ago I opened the last jar, canned in the summer of 2011.  Honestly, they weren’t very good but they were all I had.

Fresh Dill
So, this year I vowed to buy fresh dill and try again to make crispy dill pickles.  Buying fresh dill isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Yesterday I went to the local farmers market bright and early to buy the best choice of dill.  To my surprise I heard from the growers, “we just don’t grow dill.”  Then one grower gave me the name and phone number of the local “dill man.”

Turns out the local “dill man” doesn’t have any dill right now.  Probably won’t have another crop of dill until August.  Ugh, way past my pickling season! Then I received a call from our Aunt Mattie Lou whose sister owns a local truck farm. Voila’ — fresh dill!  I was back in business of making dill pickles today!

Mrs. Wages Pickles

Aunt Mattie also told me her sister only uses Mrs. Wages seasonings and that her pickles turn our wonderful.  I researched several dill pickle recipes and decided to try one batch using Mrs. Wages seasoning and the second batch using minced garlic, fresh dill,  and red pepper flakes. The brine for the second batch was made from vinegar, water and pickling salt.

Chief pickler

The Chief gardener turned Chief slicer and the pickle making was off to a great start. My sous-chef dish-washing mom made up the trio of workers in our busy kitchen!  The family who pickles together …. 🙂

Dill pickles

I will attach two different recipes at the bottom of this post.  But, a couple things I have learned about making pickles.

  • Pickles are a great way to get started canning, they are relatively easy and need only a water-bath method to seal the lids.
  • Soaking the cucumbers in ice water for at least 2 hours before canning helps to crisp them up.
  • Cold-pack the pickles in hot, sterilized jars.
  • Time the water bath precisely from the moment the jars are placed in the boiling water.

Please refer to the website for National Center for Home Food Preservation for more information about safe home canning. Another of my favorite canning sites is Pick Your Own.

Happy Pickling!
Catherine

DIY Homemade Dill Pickles
 
Mrs. Wages pickle seasoning makes for the perfect dill pickle! Adding fresh dill puts these pickles right over the top!
Serves: 7 quarts or 14 pints
Ingredients
  • 10 lbs. pickling cucumbers (about 25 to 35 depending on the size, smaller the better)
  • 3⅓ cups White distilled vinegar
  • 7⅓ cups water
  • 1 package Mrs. Wages Dill Pickles Mix
  • 7 to 10 Fresh dill tops, divided
Instructions
  1. PREPARE and process home canning jars and lids according to safe canning practices.
  2. WASH cucumbers and remove blossoms; drain. Slice into ¼" slices. Place in ice water bath for up to 2 hours.
  3. COMBINE dill mix, vinegar, and water into a large non-reactive pot. Do not use aluminum. Bring mixture just to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture dissolves.
  4. PACK cucumbers and ½ piece fresh dill top into sterilized jars, leaving ½" of headspace. Evenly divide hot pickling liquid among the packed jars, leaving ½" of headspace. Remove air bubbles and cap each jar as it is filled. If more liquid is needed for proper headspace, add a mix of 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water.
  5. PROCESS pints for 5 minutes, quarts for 10 minutes, in a boiling water bath canner. Test jars for airtight seals according to safe canning practices.
  6. Product is ready to eat after 24 hours, but waiting several weeks will enhance the flavor and crispness.
Notes
If jars do not completely seal, refrigerate and consume within 2 weeks.

Please refer to the website for National Center for Home Food Preservation for additional information about safe home canning. Another of my favorite canning sites is Pick Your Own.org

http://nchfp.uga.edu/
http://pickyourown.org/allaboutcanning.htm
DIY Homemade Dill Pickles
 
Pickles are easy to make and delicious to eat -- especially when you make them yourself.
Serves: 4 pints
Ingredients
  • 16 - 4" long cucumbers, sliced into ¼" slices*
  • 12 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 heads fresh dill with stems
  • 2 hot red peppers or 1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
Brine
  • 2½ cups white vinegar
  • 2½ cups water
  • ¼ cup pickling salt
Instructions
  1. PREPARE and process home canning jars and lids according to safe canning practices.
  2. Chill clean cucumbers in the refrigerator overnight, if possible. Remove, slice into ¼" slices and place in large pan of iced water. Leave for about 2 hours, replacing ice as necessary.
  3. Make the brine: Mix vinegar, water, and pickling salt in a stainless steel saucepan (not aluminum) and heat to boiling point.
  4. Pack the chilled cucumbers into 4 hot sterilized jars. To each pint, add 3 whole peeled cloves of garlic, 1 head of dill, and ¼ teaspoon pepper flakes.
  5. Pour hot brine over the cucumbers in the jars. Leave ½" space at the top. Seal and place in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Mark the time as soon as you put the jars in the boiling water. Boil for only 5 minutes, leaving the jars in the boiling water bath any longer will soften the pickles.
  6. Store processed pickles for several weeks before using.
Notes
If jars do not seal, store in refrigerator and eat within a couple weeks.

Please refer to the website for National Center for Home Food Preservation for additional information about safe home canning. Another of my favorite canning sites is Pick Your Own.org

http://nchfp.uga.edu/
http://pickyourown.org/allaboutcanning.htm

 

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