Sunday, July 11, 2010

HARVEST TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The summer season is short here in the Northeast, so harvest-time means a lot to me. I want to buy as much as I can, and preserve it all. There just isn't enough time. I am, in my own small way, doing my best to jam, jelly and pickle everything in sight. I can barely wait for each vegetable or fruit come into it's own. On my last blog post, I made Half-Sour pickles by the brining method. Although, the pickles are tasty, they are not crisp. Sooooooooo I tried another recipe and added some wild grape leaves to the jars before adding the cucumbers. The tannin in grape leaves are purported to help crisp up the pickles. And, lo and behold, they did! I then went on to making blueberry preserves, as there is a veritable glut of blueberries in our area right now. Try these recipes, they really are very good.

Garlicky Dill Pickles

Day one:
4 lbs. pickling cucumbers
1/2 cup pickling salt

Day two:

3/4 Tbsp. pickling salt
3 1/2 cups water
3 1/4 cups white vinegar
21 cloves garlic, cut into fours
14 dill heads
7 Grape leaves

Day one: Scrub cukes and remove blossom ends. (the blossoms contain an enzyme that make the pickles soft)
Layer cukes with salt. Add cold water to cover. Weight down and let stand at room temperature for up to 24 hours.
Day two: Prepare jars by sterilizing. Boil some water and remove from heat and put lids in water .
Working in batches, drain, rinse and drain cucumbers. Set aside.
In a pot, combine the 3/4 Tbsp. salt, 3 1/2 cups water and 3 1/4 cups vinegar. Bring to boil to dissolve salt and boil for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to keep hot.
Place 6 slices garlic, 1 grape leaf and 1 head dill in bottom of jar. Pack with cukes and add another head of dill. Fill jar with brine mixture. Remove air. Leave a 1 inch head space. Clean rims of jars and put on lids and rings. Process in a hot-water bath canner.

I used the low- temperature pasteurization method for canning the pickles, as this method helps to keep pickles crisp. You have to maintain an accurate temperature in canner of 180 to 185 degrees for a whole 30 minutes. If you go beyond 185 degrees, the pickles will soften.

OR: you can use the boiling water method of canning for 15 minutes.
This recipe makes 7 pints

Blueberry Preserves

4 1/2 cups crushed blueberries
1 lemon
7 cups sugar
2 pouches Certo liquid pectin
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Prepare and sterilize nine 1/2 pint jars. Keep lids hot in water that was boiled and removed from heat.
Crush berries, 1 cup at at time. Do Not Puree.
Measure Exact amount of prepared fruit into a 6 to 8 quart stockpot.
Stir in the juice of one lemon.
Add the cinnamon
Measure Exact amount of sugar and add to pot.
Bring mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat stirring constantly.
Stir in pectin quickly. Return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle quickly into jars to within 1/8 inch of tops, clean rims, add lids and rings.
Place jars in a water-bath canner and can for 10 minutes.
Remove from canner and cool for at least 24 hours before moving. Do not swirl them about, or the jam will not set.

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