July 18, 2011

20. Make pickles and jam. Done.

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I might have gone a little overboard with the whole pickles and jam idea. I started out innocently enough, picking 10 lbs of strawberries on a beautiful Saturday morning at Brookdale Farm in Chesapeake. Then I spent an afternoon making 6 pints of strawberry jam and 8 pints of strawberry balsamic jam. The recipe I used was super simple and easy to follow. I got so excited about how great it tasted the next morning I decided that we needed MORE jam in the house. So the next week we went back to Brookdale Farm in Pungo  and  picked about 35 lbs. of strawberries and made 30 more pints of strawberry jam, we used the same recipe but didn’t add the balsamic and pepper.

After all the jam was made we still had about 5 lbs of strawberries left over so we froze about 3 for this winter and then I made a buttermilk pie with fresh strawberries on top. Then I pickled some asparagus and made pickled jalapenos from our bumper crop of jalapenos in the garden.

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Strawberry Balsamic Jam with Black Pepper



In large Dutch oven or preserving pot and using potato masher, mash strawberries thoroughly, 1 layer at a time, to make 6 cups.

Mix pectin crystals with 1/4 cup of the sugar; stir into berries and bring to full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Stir in remaining sugar; return to full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Skim off foam with metal spoon. Stir in balsamic vinegar and pepper.

Using funnel and 1/2-cup measure, fill hot 1-cup canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles, readjusting headspace if necessary. If necessary, wipe rims. Cover with prepared lids. Screw on bands until resistance is met; increase to fingertip tight. Boil in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

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My next task was pickling. They may not be cucumber pickles but they are delicious. I had a pickled asparagus spear in a Bloody Mary a few years ago and loved it. So I decided to give it a try for my first pickle. I was simple enough just asparagus, cider vinegar, garlic, peppercorns and mustard seeds. They are delicious. We  have been enjoying them as a quick snack with our homemade bacon  and some cheese, we are almost out of them already. I know what I will be doing next spring!

Pickled Asparagus
adapted from
Putting Up by Stephen Palmer Dowdney

4 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit your pint jars and blanched in boiling water for approximately 10 seconds

3 cups vinegar( half apple cider vinegar, half white vinegar)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons Mustard Seeds
1 tablespoon red hot chili flakes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tsp Black Peppercorns

3 pint jars (if you use the taller, 12 ounce jelly jars, you don’t have to cut your asparagus quite as short and you’ll probably fill four jars.

Sterilize your jars. Put the peppercorns, sliced garlic and mustard seed ( divided evenly among your jars) in the bottom and pack the trimmed and blanched asparagus into the jars (it’s up to you to determine whether you want to go tips up or down).

Bring the vinegar, water, salt  and chili flakes to a boil. Pour into jars on top of asparagus, leaving at least 1/2 inch of head space.

Put lids and rings on the jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (you can skip this step if you plan on just putting your pickles in the fridge).

Wait at least 24 hours before eating, but 3 weeks is even better.

Pickled Jalapenos

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We went out to our  garden one morning and noticed that we had a huge amount of jalapenos. Too many to eat before they went bad and so we decided to pickle some for the winter months for nachos and chilies and anything else we wanted to add a bit of flavor and spice too. For the jalapenos we didn’t use a recipe I just used a method that I read about on The Purple Foodie, from Micheal Ruhlman. 1. Pack jars with jalapenos. 2. Fill jars to the top with water. 3. Strain jar into measuring cup, repack jalapeno slices into your jars ( I added a few peppercorns and 1 clove of garlic to each jar). 4.  Dump out half the water you strained and replace with vinegar( I used white vinegar). 5. Bring vinegar and water to a boil, I added a little salt and sugar as well. 6.  Add liquid to your jars, leaving the correct amount of headspace. 7. Seal jars  to finger tight and process in canner for appropriate time.  We ended up with 8 small jelly jars of delicious pickled jalapenos. I also tried the same technic for some freshly picked okra from our farmer market this Saturday.

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