It’s Pickling Time

 

 

It’s pickling time of year! I just want to remind you of a few things to get the best pickle. 

One, is the type of cucumber you are using to make pickles. You need a pickling cucumber. The best ones are from the black spine type, with small black prickles, such as the Chicago Pickling Cucumber and National Pickle.

Wash all ingredients carefully to remove bacteria, which might spoil your product. In washing cucumbers, DON’T scrub so that you remove the black prickles. A good way to get off the dirt and bacteria is to soak them for a few minutes in a glass or plastic container with a tablespoon of pickling salt and one tablespoon of vinegar. Rinse well in running water as you gently rub them.                                The pot you will be using to make the brine should never be brass, copper, iron or aluminum. Any of these will produce a strange taste and undesirable color changes because the metals will react with the vinegar and salt solutions. Use enameled ware, glass, or stainless steel. Stir with wood spoon and or stainless steel ladle.  

Whenever possible, use water without chlorine. Here is how you can use your water to eliminate chlorine and other minerals. Plan in advance and boil the water for 15 minutes. Let stand for 24 hours. When all the sediment has settled to the bottom, ladle the water from the top. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 5 % acidity to each gallon of water before using. Or buy bottled distilled water and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to each gallon. You will never regret all this effort. 

Do not use table salt in pickling or canning. Table salt has iodine and anti-caking agent. That will turn pickles an undesirable color and soften the pickle. Use Pickling salt for best results. 

Vinegar should be 5 % acidity. Check the label for percentage of acid and also check the expiration date. If it is past the expiration date, use it to make salad dressing not pickles. Vinegars of unknown strength should not be used. Either cider or white vinegars may be used. When pickling light-colored foods such as onions, white vinegars is preferable for it will not darken the ingredients. When making a simple solution of vinegar, pickling salt, and water, do not boil more than 5 to 6 minutes unless otherwise directed in the recipes. Long boiling weakens vinegar. Follow the timings suggested in the recipes: if a recipe says bring just to boil, do that. 

Always use fresh spices and herbs. Old ones will discolor the product and produce musty, strange flavors. If a recipe calls for you to put spices in a spice bag ( cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine) make sure it is not too tight so the brine can flow through during the cooking time. Remove bag before canning. If you have access to fresh grape leaves, wash them and place on top of produce in the jar. This will keep the produce under the brine and help with keeping the produce crisp. Any recipe can be changed to fit individual taste in SPICES Only. Do not change the amount of vinegar, water or salt. Blended pickling spices are available commercially, I like to blend my own. Here are a list of spices I like using: Allspice, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper Corns, Cardamom, Cayenne, Chili, Cinnamon Stick, Coriander Seeds, Clove, Dill Seeds, Ginger, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg ( grated), Hot Red Pepper flakes, Turmeric, and Celery Seeds. 

Garlic is a wonderful addition to pickles. But one warning; If you wish to add garlic to a jar of dill pickles or any pickles, you will need to peel the cloves then plunge them into boiling water first for 1 minute. This blanching process kills the bacteria on garlic, which can cause spoilage. Or you can place the cloves in vinegar for about 1 to 2 minutes before filling the jars. 

I hope this helps you get the best pickle for you and your family. 

See you in class

      

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

Action Packed Weekend

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What a fun weekend!!! It started on Thursday after class; one of my

students and I went on a field trip to Berkeley Bowl. I had a great time

showing her all the different produce that they have to offer. Just the variety of

mushrooms alone would blow you away.They have a bargain produce area

that is wonderful for canners to pick up some very ripe tomatoes, plums and a

few other things. We also picked up some organic vanilla beans at a

amazing price, four in a package for $3.99. Score!!! We also visited the bulk

section and picked up some mustard seed, raw sugar, spices and sesame

seeds. The next day I spent canning for my family. I had tomatoes left over

from class and I got two bags of tomatoes from the bargain produce 5

pounds for $2.78. Yes, people $2.78. Score again. I got some beautiful

green beans to make Fasolakia Green Beans in Tomato sauce. This is a

Greek recipe that my family loves. In order to put vegetables in a jar

with out vinegar (pickling) you need to use a pressure canner. So I had

the pressure canner making my green beans and had the water bath canner

going too. I had a lot more tomatoes then I thought so, I made a new Tomato

Jam. It is yummy with a hint of Garam Masala. This is a spice mix that has a lot

going on and is used in Indian food frequently. The ingredients are Coriander, Sichuan,

pepper, Anistar, Fennel seeds, Cumin, Seeds, Cloves, Kalpasi, Pepper Chili,

Black Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Cinnamon, and Ginger. Very rich in flavor.

For the other tomatoes I made a new Tomato Hot Sauce. If you have been

here for a hot sauce class you know I make hot sauce many ways, but this is

the first time I made it with tomatoes. It is full of flavor and just the right

amount of heat. But my weekend wasn’t over yet! I’m sure you have heard me say “The best part of food is, that it

is endless and we can ever get to the end.” Gotta love that. So on Sunday I went to the

Farm To Fermentation Festival and Fundraiser. WOW, I can’t wait for next

year to go again! It was a wonderful event and I learned so much. I wish I could

clone myself because there where classes coming on at the same time that I

would have loved to be in each one. Next year I think I will ask a few friends

to go with me, that way each person can go to a different class and take notes

and at the end we could sit and exchange notes. Some of the classes included: ” Your

Digestive Health”, “Making Healthy Sodas”, ” Using a Water Lock to make

Kimchi”, “Traditional Meat Curing” and much more. There were vendors as well selling

things like tools for home fermenting, Apple cider, goat cheese, kimchi and

some canning supplies. I can’t believe I was able to pack in so much fun and learning in one weekend!

See you in class