Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not bad for a Monday..

I made pickles on Monday.

 And strawberry jam.

Chris and I had gone to the local fruit stand on Friday and purchased some pickling cucumbers, fresh dill, local garlic and a few other goodies. I had plans to make pickles Saturday morning.

Well, I don't know about you...but it takes me some "gearing up" to bust out that canning pot. Not to mention getting all the jars out...and washing them real good...making sure I've got lids and rings...and on and on and on.

So...in true Michelle form...I procrastinated. And the cucumbers and dill sat in wait in the fridge all weekend.

I woke up on Monday morning and I knew I had to either make pickles...or feed the cucumbers to the chickens. I decided to go for it and make the dang pickles.

Now, keep in mind, I don't have a great track record with pickle making. I've made them twice...and both times I thought they were gross. And those who tasted them agreed. :( They were too this or too that...not enough this or not enough that. This last time (last summer) I made the HUGE mistake of using pre-mixed pickling spice...YUCK. The pre-mixed pickling spice contains Allspice which is just too sweet. (At least I think that's the culprit.) I like a good puckery dill pickle. OR a nice, sweet bread and butter pickle. But I do NOT like a sweet-ish dill pickle. Blech.

(Picky much?)

Anyway...I was inspired recently to take one last stab at making homemade pickles. I was going through old recipes with my mom and we came across one that my great-grandmother used. It was so simple and straight-forward: cucumbers, vinegar, water, salt, fresh dill, garlic cloves, grape leaves. (I bought everything but the grape leaves...we had our own in the backyard thanks to our spring planting of grape vines!)

Simple enough, right? I went for it. I canned 5 jars and left one in the fridge for taste-testing the next day. And...I'm happy to report...so far they're a hit! They're very puckery...very salty...very pickly. So far we've only tasted the jar that did not get a hot water bath...so they're quite crunchy. I wasn't going to process them as I wanted them to remain crunchy. But I got nervous about long-term storage and decided at the last minute to give them a quick process (about 5 minutes) just to make sure. And from what I understand, the grape leaves (which contain alum) are added to keep the cucumbers a bit more crisp. So we shall see...I'll let you know when we open a jar...soon!

In the middle of my pickle-making frenzy Chris came home for lunch. He was having a hankering for a pb&j. Unfortunately, we've been out of "j" for quite some time. I kept saying I was going to make homemade strawberry jam...and since I was going to make it, I was refusing to buy it.

(Yes...picky and stubborn. What can I say?)

Seeing how upset he was about not having any jam in the house I decided then and there to whip up a batch. I mean, why not? I've got the canner out and full of hot water...I've got jars and lids at the ready...my kitchen is already a disaster. Not to mention the strawberry patch is a quick 1-minute drive away. Yeah...why not?!

About an hour later we had 5 pints of strawberry jam cooling on the counter along with the 5 quarts of pickles I'd made earlier.

Not bad for a Monday, eh?

3 comments:

You Can Call Me Jane said...

These projects do indeed require some gearing up. I have to give myself a mental pep talk before I dive in:-).

Denise said...

you are awesome!

Nancy said...

quite productive! enjoy the bounty!