Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pears, peaches, and pickles

So I've been going a little canning crazy lately, and I have managed to put up two types of confitures and some dill pickles over the last 10 days or so. I am just loving the new confitures book by Christine Ferber I purchased, and it is allowing me to try more tastes beyond the standard typical jams. The only problem is that many of the jams are a pretty soft set, which is okay for me, but it would be nice if I could improve my techniques.

One of the first things I put up lately was a Pear with Balsalmic Vinegar and Spices confiture as Henry's Market had Bartlett pears on sale (3 lbs for $1!). Involving a balsalmic/honey reduction with cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and peppercorns, it is so much of a fall flavor jam. Very yummy.

And of course I had to try the White Peaches with Saffron before all the yummy peaches were out of season, and I'm glad I did. It's more of sliced peaches in a heavy syrup type of confiture, but tasty nonetheless. And the saffron really does come through.

The last thing I put up (yesterday actually) was fresh kosher dill pickles with the cucumbers purchased at the Farmer's market on Sunday. They were so simple to make and so yummy.

Fresh Kosher Dill Pickles

small cucumbers, sliced into about 1/4 inch rounds
fresh dill (dried works well too)
yellow mustard seeds
lightly smushed cloves of garlic
vinegar (either white or cider)
coarse salt

Make a solution with one part vinegar to one part water and add 1 Tbsp of salt for each cup total of solution (example: 3 cups vinegar plus 3 cups water plus 6 Tbsp salt). Let come to a boil and boil gently till salt completely dissolves.

In each canning jar (amounts for 1 pint), place 1 tsp mustard seeds, clove garlic and dill at bottom top with cucumber slices. Once jar is half full, add more dill and another clove of garlic and continue packing with cucumber slices until 3/4 inch from top.

Fill each jar with hot vinegar mixture to a headspace of 1/2 inch. Make sure bubbles are not in solution by running clean knife or wooden skewer around inside of jar to release bubbles. Seal and process in boiling water canner for 5 min (good review of proper canning techniques can be found on National Center for Home Food Preservation)
or let cool and place into fridge for up to 4 weeks (if it lasts that long!)

As a reference, I used 6 small cucumbers (about 4-5 inch in length) and amount of liquid above, and it made 5 pints of pickles. My next project is going to be pickled garlic, as Ryan has specifically requested it and in the process I am now quite curious. Maybe pickled peppers too? Hmm, much to consider.

Also, my seeds started sprouting! It's very exciting to watch them spring through the soil and shout up quickly day by day. I'm going to be quite sad when it comes to thinning them, as I want them all to survive. At least the mesclun type can be resown quite often.

No comments: