Anotheryarn Eats

September 21, 2009

pickle crazy

Filed under: food preservation — Tags: , , , , — anotheryarn @ 5:02 pm

I’ve been going pickle crazy. After making 3 quarts of refrigerator dills, I had the urge to make dilly beans (aka pickled, dilled green beans) but instead I talked my parents into turning their last row of green beans into jars of pickles instead of plain pressure-cooker canned green beans. Our neighbors gave us a couple pounds of small plums from their tree and I had the urge to try making pickled plums, but TheHusband ate too many before I got the gumption to try it. Then I went and made a batch of quick pickled radishes (so good, and now I’ve lost the recipe), and followed that with pickled kohlrabi (meh, might have been the woody kohlrabi or the wrong brine). Next up, carrots. But instead of making pickled carrots I had a saner moment (thank you Marissa, yet again) when I found Food In Jars (if I’m remembering names correctly, by the same person who brought me our favorite beet salad combo) and just cut up the carrots and dumped them in the first empty jar of pickle brine.  Then I got the bright idea to turn my two bunches of beets into spiced pickled beets. Hey I have the canning jars and a recipe, why not? It saved me from being completely overwhelmed with the csa shares (cooking only 7 meals over the course of 20 days has a way of making that produce pile up).

carrot pickles

Quick carrot pickles (refrigerator) – in leftover pickle brine, let them sit for a week in the fridge before eating.  They turned out quite delicious, and kept a wonderful crunch.  Now they are nearly gone with another bunch of carrots destined for a new jar (but I need to make some new brine, I think I’ll try Smitten Kitchen’s version).  You also see the radish and beet pickle things that I didn’t get around to until the next day.

radish pickles

Radish pickles made with rice vinegar, sugar and ginger root.  Straight to the fridge with this batch too, but they were better eaten within a couple hours.  It took two jars to hold my regular size bunch of ginormous radishes (plus a few regular sized radishes from an earlier bunch).  These turned bleh after a weekend in the fridge, but another week has turned them into something somewhat edible.  No more long-term storage radish pickles for me.

spiced beets

Spiced Beet Pickles.  This is a sweet pickle brine with cloves and cinnamon for spice.  I had the required 2 pounds of beets, but had to make a 2nd half-batch of the brine when I was filling my jars and ran out after jar #3.  Doh – I’m not sure if it wasn’t enough brine (the recipe called for 4 pint jars) or if my 2 pounds didn’t quite fill the jars the way the recipe assumed they would.  This was also my third canning attempt and I got a little brave, I added some dried, cracked ginger to two of the jars (and then used gold bands to distinguish between them).  I actually sealed the jars via water-bath to make them shelf-stable until we open them.  I haven’t tried any of these yet, but have high hopes.

the other peaches

Filed under: food preservation, thoughts — Tags: , , , — anotheryarn @ 4:35 pm

Our 20 pound box of peaches came with two layers.  I forgot to count when we started grabbing peaches for baking, eating and cooking, but did remember to count once the first batch of salsa had been made.  The bottom layer had 24 peaches on it, so I figure we started out with 40-50 peaches (if each peach actually averaged 7 oz, based unscientifically on one weighed peach, we had about 45 peaches).

The peach preservation stats:
12- frozen
8- salsa
6- peach lavender jam
6 – cranberry-peach conserve

In addition to salsa, jam and frozen peaches we used some up right away.  I made peach muffins the morning after we got the box.  1 peach gave me 1 1/4 cups of roughly diced peach (though this did not hold true for the rest of my measuring).  And 4 peaches, cooked into 2 cups of very thick peach nectar.  I think I actually screwed the recipe up somehow since it measured peaches in quarts and I suspect was referring to the picking basket quart and not a volume quart.  With the peach nectar I made the Peach Iced Tea from Super Natural Foods.

4 – peach nectar for iced tea
1 – buttermilk peach muffins

That adds up to 37 peaches.  One had a bad spot that grew too much before I got around to using it (38 peaches) and the rest must have been eaten in hand, probably at least one peach per day during the duration of my canning craziness (that definitely gets us in the 45-50 count range).

And the results:
canned

3 pints of salsa (the 4th was a hair shy of water-bath ready so we just enjoyed most of it that night with chips and then stuck the jar in the fridge)
9 half pints of peach lavender jam (the recipe was supposed to make 6 cups, I’m not sure what happened)
8 half pints + a couple leftover tablespoons of cranberry-peach conserve (again was supposed to yield 6 cups)

The lesson learned – always prep at least one extra jar, you might not use it but it is much better than scrambling to prep more jars when you still have hot jam in the pot and have filled all the jars. I prepped 5 pint jars for salsa and only used 4; I prepped 8 jars for the jam-round 1 and scrambled for a 9th, which didn’t even fit in my water-bath and so went straight to the fridge; I prepped 5 pint jars for salsa and only used 4; luckily I instinctively prepped 8 jars for jam-round 2. The extra jam also meant I had to go back to the store for a second box of half-pint jars, and I ended up with the regular mouth half-pints instead of the wide-mouth half-pints since the former was on sale while the latter was not. What are those four red filled jars on the left? That will be explained in the pickle post.

Canning Crazy but first a side of freezing

Filed under: almost a recipe, food preservation — Tags: , — anotheryarn @ 11:43 am

Last Friday Two weeks ago (9/4) I had the opportunity to get a 20 lb box of local enough organic peaches for a good price.  And so I jumped on it.  I couldn’t quite envision what 20 lbs of peaches would be, but armed with three canning/preservation books, 1 dozen pint jars, 1 dozen half-pint jars and 10 quart jars if needed I started doing a bit of recipe reading.  I’ve spent most of the past week thinking about, prepping for, cleaning up after and canning.  Not that I’ve done mass quantities like some people, but I’m slowly getting over my nervousness about this whole process.

20 lbs

I decided to freeze some peaches, since I don’t think I’m a big canned peach fan (I never buy them for what that’s worth), make two, maybe three types of jam, make salsa and bake.  Then in the middle of it all pickles started calling to me again (but really that is another post).  We started by freezing them, I made room in the freezer for one cookie sheet, read up on blanching peaches (for peeling) and got started.  We had a few hiccups on the first batch when the first blanching instructions didn’t call for an x scored in the peach to aid peeling and the timing was off due to our peaches being slightly under ripe.  A lot of the freezing directions talked about packing them in water, juice or syrup but I wanted easy access to frozen peaches for smoothy making so I froze them individually; I also found one book claiming you can freeze whole peaches and just peel and pit them once they defrost.  I guess this is good to know if you are really short on time but it seemed very limiting on what you can do with the finished product.  I had no problems with browning, but haven’t done anything with them yet other than sneak a bite of a single frozen peach slice.

freezing peaches

Freezing Peaches

  • 4 peaches
  • 1 vat of boiling water
  • 1 vat ice water
  • 1 slotted spoon that will hold a peach
  • 1 kitchen timer
  • 1 cutting board
  • paring knife
  • 1 bowl for pits and skins
  • 1 cookie sheet
  • wax paper or parchment paper*
  • 2 quart size freezer bags

*It is a lot easier to remove frozen peaches from wax paper than the bottom of the cookie sheet.  Ask me how I know.

Bring your pot of water to a boil.  You want it full enough to submerge the peaches but not so full that water overflows once they are in the pot (have a cup handy in case you need to remove excess boiling water).  While you wait for the water to boil, wash your peaches, score the bottom with an X shape (each cut is maybe 2″, but just eyeball it), get your bowl of ice water ready and set up very near the boiling water, get the cutting board and peach pit bowl ready, cut a sheet of wax/parchment paper to fit the cookie sheet and put it in place.

When the water is boiling gently place each peach in it and set the timer for 30-60 seconds (the riper peaches take less time).  I like to use the slotted spoon to help me lower the peaches into the water without splashing myself.  Once the time is up, use the slotted spoon to transfer each peach from boiling water to ice water.  Let the peaches cool for about 1 minute and then remove to the cutting board.  Proceed to peel them.  I like to cut the peach in half  and remove the pit before peeling.  Generally speaking you should be able to grab at one of the corners of your scored X with your paring knife (or clean fingernail) and peel away the peel.  It might not come in one big piece so just repeat until it is removed.  At absolute worst you use the paring knife to cut away stubborn peel.

Once the peach is peeled you can set it aside and peel the rest or you can peel, slice, peel, slice, peel, slice and so on.  I like to slice each half in half (so quarters) and each quarter into even slices, giving me 12 slices per peach.  Place slices on the cookie sheet (well on the paper on the cookie sheet), bonus points if you can arrange them so it is easy to divide evenly between your freezer bags.  Place on an even surface in your freezer and freeze at least a few hours or overnight.  Remove cookie sheet, label 2 quart sized freezer bags and place 2 peaches, or 24 slices in each bag.  Our bags averaged at 12 oz each, I’m sure 1 pound would have fit just fine, but not all 4 peaches.

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