Bounty from the Garden.

Discussion in 'Off Topic Chat' started by Margot Howe, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. Margot Howe

    Margot Howe Active Member

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    Peaches are ripe, strawberries have been picked, watermelon is coming into season. With all this abundance, how do we use this bounty? We Put-By. An old fashioned term meaning we can, freeze, dehydrate and otherwise prepare for the coming winter, it is time to use our skills to make things that will sustain us for the months ahead. Born and raised on a farm, it was many years before I learned that what was sold in the markets could not live up to what was prepared at home.

    Take for example strawberry jam. That season ended last month. Those of us that are lucky enough were able to get into the fields and pick berries still damp with dew. By afternoon, those were hulled, crushed and processed into jam. The deep red jars are now labeled and line the shelves in the pantry or cellar. And now it is peach season. Soon, that basket of plump round fruit that is ripening on the back porch will join its' sister jars of strawberries. Mine are not for eating, but for gift giving. Many new neighbors get welcomed with a jar of jam and a warm loaf of bread. I've made a lot of new friends that way and gotten some surprising gifts in return. But that's another story.

    In another day and age, we would be coming into the season of putting beef in the freezer. Dehydrating was one way of preserving some of it. My dad would enjoy that beef jerky while out hunting for deer or for a snack in mid day. It has remained a favorite with my son, so I make sure to put some by for him. It makes a great snack for someone on a low carb diet, also.

    There is so much out there that needs picking and taking care of right now. Corn gets blanched, cut off the cob and put into the freezer. Modern techniques have us vacuum packing the kernels now rather than putting them in plastic boxes. Root vegetables are stored in bushel baskets. Tomatoes are cooked down and jarred as spaghetti sauce, salsa, or tomato juice. Dad used to pull up the whole tomato plant of the cherry tomatoes just before the first frost. He hung them by the roots in the cellar, and as they ripened, we would pick and eat them, tasting just as fresh as if we had just picked them still hot from the sun.

    Right now, it is the cucumbers that are almost overwhelming, and there is nothing better than home made pickles. I would like to share with you a recipe from my Polish mother-in-law. It is simple, requires no water bath, and the results are scrumptious.

    Bread and Butter Pickles

    1 quart thin sliced cukes – do not peel
    3 onions – thin sliced
    Salt the above with about 3 Tb of regular salt (canning salt will also do if you have it on hand) Let it stand in a colander. A liquid will seep out of the vegetables, so best to just let it sit in the sink. Drain and wash them, getting the salt out of the slices.

    In a large kettle, combine:
    1 ½ cups sugar
    1 cup white vinegar
    ½ cup water
    1 Tsp celery seed
    1 Tsp mustard seed
    ½ Tsp turmeric
    2 diced red sweet peppers (optional)

    Combine the cukes and onions with the vinegar solution. Heat all together, bringing it to a boiling point, but DO NOT BOIL. Stir frequently until you see that it is starting to come up to heat. Pack into hot sterilized jars while hot and seal tightly at once. They are ready to eat when cool.

    Note: If planning on eating these in the near future, they will keep well in the refrigerator and it is not necessary to put them into sterilized jars. Canning jars are easily sterilized by boiling while covered with water but try them out first. This is a small batch. I routinely double/triple a number of veggies. This recipe should make a healthy quart of pickles.
     
    Margot Howe, Aug 22, 2017
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    ninamari likes this.
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  2. Margot Howe

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I haven't canned in years! I keep jars at the ready, then the seasons pass and the jars get used to store leftovers or made into packaging for baked goodies. But there was a time when canning was a way of life. My grandmothers cellar was full of jams, honey, pickles. But olives came from an old Italian woman who barely spoke English. Her adult son would tell the customers that came by their place to buy home cured olives, garlic and onions how much everything cost. The little old woman would stand there smiling and motion for use to take a handful of olives. I swear, there is no jam, like homemade. And to this day when I have pancakes or waffles I want honey or jam, not maple syrup. Never had a pancake without jam or honey at grandma's house.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 23, 2017
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  3. Margot Howe

    Margot Howe Active Member

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    Just wrapped up two batches of strawberry jam. The taste is awesome. So worth the trouble. I also have the rind of a watermelon peeled and in a brine. Tomorrow I will cook that up with spices and can them. Such a wonderful treat. I bought a half bushel of pickling cukes this morning, so will be making up the bread and butter pickles during the week. The last will be peaches. Some will be canned to use as just peach slices, but most will be jam. This requires a trip to the orchard - so maybe next weekend. I'll have had my fill by the end of the cukes.
    I've never had an olive other than from the jar from the store. I must travel more and find the good stuff. Sounds like you had a wonderful childhood. I was without grandparents by the time I was 5.
     
    Margot Howe, Aug 28, 2017
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  4. Margot Howe

    Margot Howe Active Member

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    Well, the strawberry jam failed to gel. I have 21 jars, though, as the most delicious ice cream topping I've ever had. I'm out of ice cream now and heading for the store. The watermelon did not come out good either, so am vexed about that. But the peach jam and the low peach jam are great, as are the bread and butter pickles. I put in some diced red peppers at the end of one batch - something I'll do again. Very pretty.
     
    Margot Howe, Sep 16, 2017
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