...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'd Can It, Except I Didn't Grow the Truck-load the Recipe Requires...

What if this is a typical harvest on any given day this time of year in the smaller kitchen garden? Not enough of any one thing for canning, but too much of some things for straight consumption. Freezing whatever freezes well would be one option, but another is to use a canning recipes that calls for mixed veggies. I have a cookbook that offers such titles as End-of-the-Garden Pickles, Hot Pickle Mix, Mixed Pickles, and Rummage Relish, etc. All these use a mix of veggies and don't require a huge bounty of any one type of produce.

Today, I'm making a pickle mix called Mustard Pickles. I still have a few standard mixed pickle jars from last summer's garden and plenty of dill already canned this year, so I'm trying these for a change of pace.

Some recipes require a little advanced planning by the clock as the vegetables do a salt water soak for 12 to 18 hours. I chopped the veggies the evening before I canned these pickles and put them to soak in a salt water solution overnight. (Don't forget if you're trying this recipe, you want to use canning salt, or at least non-iodized salt for this step.)

The next day, I rinsed, drained and rinsed again. The veggies are ready to can. The recipe calls for one and a half pounds of sliced cucumbers, 1 quart of chopped green tomatoes, 3 cups of cauliflower (I didn't have any on hand so traded for zucchini), 3 cups of chopped green peppers, 3 cups of chopped red peppers, and 2 cups of chopped onions.

This recipe is the first I've made this summer with a thicker sauce. The sauce begins as a mix of dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon of turmeric. These are blended dry before adding 1/2 cup of prepared mustard and 5 cups of white vinegar to make the mustard yellow sauce you see below.
This sauce simmers until it is thick enough to just coat the spoon when you stir it. At this point, I add the veggies and simmer them for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the flour mix from sticking to the pan.

Notice the spoon rest I'm using. Pickle recipes that call for turmeric make a very effective yellow dye for counter tops. A little bleach wash takes it out, but don't be surprised if you have a very yellow kitchen as you get your pickles ready for the canner, at least if you're as flourishing a cook as I am. After the veggies have finished simmering in the sauce, they go into hot jars with 1/4 inch of headspace left. Don't forget to remove the air bubbles by running a thin plastic spatula around the inside of the jar before wiping the threads and applying the lids and rings.

The pickles then process in the canner for 10 minutes. One thing about the ones I made: they are a little heavy on the sauce. I didn't have quite enough veggies to make the 7-8 pints the recipe offered. I only made about 5, but used the full sauce recipe. You can use a slotted spoon to pack the veggies in jars and then ladle sauce over them after cooking if this happens. You may have sauce left over, but if you are close to the full requirement of veggies, then this is a better option than to try to cut all sauce ingredients by say 1/3. You might even choose to use the extra sauce for a more immediate use--say as a salad dressing for dinner, etc.--after it cools.

Pickles are on the sideboard, canner steam is dissipating. Another successful day of pickle-making is behind me, despite the fact that I only had half a dozen cucumbers on hand.

Today's sign-off: creative canning to you!

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