Childhood Memories

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I find it amazing when a person takes a bite or even just the smell of some foods how it can bring you back to a childhood memory. I had that happen to me this weekend, so much that I had goosebumps on my arms. It was magical.
Last Thursday I met one of my students at the Lodi Farmers Market to pick up produce for the upcoming class. He informed me that he had been to a lot of classes, i.e. pie filling, jam, chutney, jelly, hot sauce and even sausage making, but no pickling class. So of course I wanted to find something to pickle. We found some beautiful pickling cucumbers to make into dill pickle spears. We also found some green tomatoes. I was very excited to see them because I have been thinking about my great grandma’s pickled green tomatoes. We found some lovely peaches that will become Peach Bellini. We both were looking forward to having a fun filled day of canning. We started to talk about how we both heard that home canned Maraschino Cherries are out of this world, even if you don’t like Maraschino Cherries. We looked for cherries, but not one person had any. My student said he thinks Walnut Creek Produce had some and he would bring them to class.
I went home and started researching recipes for Maraschino Cherries. I found 4 or 5 recipes and thought they were doing it all wrong. So I did it my way… and typed up a recipe I thought would work well.

While I was doing research on Maraschino Cherries and I started thinking about Great Grandma’s Pickled Green Tomatoes started writing down what I could remember that was in those yummy pickled green tomatoes, so I called my sister and asked if she could remember what was in them. She said I never liked them and I think there was pumpkin pie spice. I said no wonder you didn’t like them, I will make them a lot better. I have an old pickling recipe book I got out and looked up Pickled Green Tomatoes and what I wrote down was pretty much right on.

The day of the class we started with coffee and home made cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting made with my Carrot Cake Preserves. I love that stuff. I had a small snack laid out with other goodies,  like pickled okra, jams, jelly and home made hummus. Later we sat down for lunch.

We worked with the green tomatoes first and the place was smelling like great grandma’s. I took a sample taste and it was as if I had walked back in time. All the hair on my arms were standing up with goosebumps.

I don’t know if it is the pickles or thinking about all that love in the jars that my grandparents put in them. Happy Canning

See you in class

I’m Crazy For Canning

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It is official: I’m crazy about canning. I’m out of control. I cannot stop myself. I love putting different, diverse ingredients together and then experiencing the joy of opening a jar to find out that my experiments and creative recipes taste wonderful. The other day I told you about my Wild Turkey Molasses Pickles. Well, I had my niece over, who loves bourbon, and we opened a jar of these wildly different pickles. They tasted great; my niece loved it so much, she drank the brine!

So today – I worked with some Asian Pears that one of my students gave me and a six pack of Hard Cider given to me by a friend. I’m sure you can guess what I made. Yes! Hard Cider Asian Pear Pickles. I just can’t wait to try them (and neither can my niece). The hardest part of making pickles is waiting for them to pickle.

Once again, I was able to work with produce and other ingredients that were given to me by other people. I promise you – once people know you know how to can, they will start bringing you all kinds of goodies to work with. You will love it.

See you in class

Making It Your Own

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The other day a friend delivered a box full of three different kinds of cucumbers. I asked my friend what he does with them and he told me he turns them into pickles. I was confused because there were three different kinds of cucumbers here, but none of them were the kind you use to make pickles. He enjoys making them into pickles, anyway, and he says he mixes them all together. I needed to find a creative way to transform these veggies into crispy, delicious pickles. I found an intriguing recipe for Beer – Honey Pickles. When I finished those, I still had more cucumbers and I love the idea of alcohol plus a sugar. Hmm, what else could I use? I thought, “Why not make Wild Turkey – Molasses Pickles?” I have some family members that absolutely love bourbon and would love to try these,so what did I have to lose? Once you understand the balance and science of canning, you can switch up the ingredients to make wild and unheard of combinations. As long as you have the right amount of acid and sugars (as a preservative) to keep your food safe then you can go for it!
See you in class