It’s a Food Blog
Category Archives: August
Sour Pickles for Home Canning
If you are looking for a versatile home canning pickle recipe to preserve your cucumbers, then this is your recipe. These pickles are crunchy, flavorful, and at the same time, the spices are subtle. Not too sweet, not too sour — just right.
- 9 medium cucumbers (about 4.5” length)
6 cups boiling water
2 ⅓ cups cider vinegar
2 ¼ cups sugar
2 TBS salt
1 TBS celery seed
3 ¼ tsp turmeric
¾ tsp mustard seed
Wash cucumbers and remove ½” from each end of the cucumbers. Slice the cucumbers lengthwise into sticks and place them in a stockpot.
Boil 6 cups of water in a separate pot and after it boils, pour it over the cucumbers. Cover and allow to cool. When cool, place in refrigerator overnight (approximately 12 hours).
The next day, wash pint or quart jars in hot soapy water and then sterilize them by boiling them in a water bath canner. After sterilizing the jars, lift them out of the water by raising the canning rack and locking its handles over the sides of your canner. Do not drain the water from the canner since you will reuse it for the pickles.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer. Remove from heat and place your canning lids in this hot water. Leave them in the water until you are ready to seal your jars.
Drain the pickles and pack them tightly into jars.
In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, celery seed, turmeric, and mustard seed. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for five minutes.
Pour this boiling hot pickling juice over the cucumbers, allowing ½” of headspace. Place a canning lid and band on each jar and turn the band until snug. Place each jar in the water bath canner, which already contains hot water. Bring to a boil and process the jars for five minutes in boiling water.
After the pickles have boiled for five minutes, turn off the heat. Lift the jar rack and suspend it from the sides of the canner. Remove each jar from the rack with a jar lifter and place the jars on a towel or board.
Check that each band is twisted on tightly and allow the jars to cool while the lids seal themselves. Lids are sealed when their centers appear slightly indented and when pressed, the lids have no movement. If they pop or move up and down in the center, they are not sealed.
After the jars have cooled and the lids are sealed, carefully remove the bands. Store these sour pickles in a cool, dark pantry for up to 12 months. Serve cold or at room temperature. Refrigerate opened jars.
Old-Fashioned Pickled Red Beets
This pickled red beets recipe is adapted from an old family cookbook; one in which ingredients are listed, but measurements are not. The dishes created from these recipes were always fabulous, but preparing them successfully today without measurements requires creative guesswork.
After a little experimentation, we determined the measurement ratios needed to achieve the old-fashioned pickled red beet flavor we remember so fondly. Here, measurements are calculated based on the quantity of red beets we harvested from our garden one day this summer. We used our first harvest for salads and borscht and the second harvest for this pickled beets home canning recipe.
Simply adjust our recipe to match your starting quantity of red beets or the final yield you desire. I started with approximately 15 quarts of whole red beets; finished with 11 full quarts of pickled beets; and had nearly two cups of pickling juice remaining. You can use any extra pickling juice as a dressing for fresh cucumbers or tomatoes. Otherwise, reduce the vinegar and water quantities in your recipe.
Pickled Red Beets
From the Kitchen of Helen Yeisley Miller, 1898 – 1962
- 15 quarts whole red beets
- 2 quarts cider vinegar
- 4 quarts water
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Yield: 11 quarts
Wash quart jars in hot soapy water. Since they will boil with their contents for 10 minutes, sterilizing them prior to filling is not necessary.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer. Remove from
heat and place your canning lids in this hot water. Leave
them in the water until you are ready to seal your jars.
While the beets are cooking, fill your water bath canner halfway with water and bring it to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn off the heat. Suspend the canning rack in your water bath canner by locking its handles over the sides of the canner.
Remove greens from the red beets and wash the beets under cold water. Place whole, unpeeled beets in a large stockpot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and drain. Cover with cold water.
While the beets are still warm but cool enough to handle, slide off the skins. (They will slide off without your having to use a peeler as long as you keep the beets submerged in water.) After you remove the skins, slice the beets into even 1/4″ slices.
Fill each quart jar with beets. Pack them tightly if your intention is to serve them as they are. If you plan to use them in recipes for pickled eggs and need more pickling juice for the recipe, then pack them loosely. Leave 1/2″ of headspace in each jar.
Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper to a clean stockpot
and bring this pickling mixture to a boil. As soon as it boils and
the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat.
Pour this pickling juice over the red beets filling each jar to leave 1/4″ of headspace. Place a canning lid and band on each jar and turn the band until snug. Place each jar in your water bath canner, which already contains hot water.
After you load the rack with your first batch of jars, lower the rack into the water. Ensure that the jars and their lids are covered with water (lids should be 1″ below the surface of the water). Bring the water bath to a boil and cover it with a lid. Boil for 10 minutes.
After boiling for 10 minutes, turn off the heat. Using insulated mitts or hot pads, lift the jar rack and suspend it from the sides of your water bath canner. Place a kitchen towel on your counter and using a jar lifter, remove each jar from the rack and place it on the towel.
Ensure that each band is twisted on snuggly and allow the jars to cool while the lids seal themselves. (Lids are sealed when their centers appear with slight depressions in them and when pressed, the lids have no movement. If they pop or move up and down in the center, they are not sealed.)
After the jars have cooled and the lids are sealed, carefully remove the bands. Store your pickled red beets in a cool, dark pantry for up to 12 months. Serve cold or at room temperature. Refrigerate opened jars.
Heirloom Tomato Sauce for Freezing
This year, I planted 17 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in my garden and despite six heat waves and several scorching 100+ degree days, my crop has been abundant. I have been able to share tomatoes with neighbors and have had plenty for making tomato sauce, too.
When I first started making tomato sauce, my recipes were always strictly by the books. I only used plum tomatoes that were carefully blanched and peeled and eventually, I even used a fancy Italian strainer to separate the skins from the juice and pulp.
I must admit, those sauces were as tasty as the famous cookbooks proclaimed. As I became more interested in gardening and grew more and more heirloom tomato varieties each year, I decided to experiment with tomato sauce, too.
I discovered that using a mix of tomato varieties produces sauce with richer flavor. I use Black Krim, Orange Woodle, Hartman Yellow Gooseberry, Japanese Black Trifele, Isis Candy, Amish Paste, Garden Peach, Dutchman, Riesentraube, Reigart, and Dixie Golden Giant just to name a few.
If you do not have these varieties, you can still make delicious sauce and I am not suggesting that you gather this exact blend! They key is to use local, vine-ripened tomatoes. They will have more flavor than anything you find at the supermarket. If you have a few types of tomatoes in your garden, then use that mix or visit your local farmers’ market to take advantage of the varieties they offer.
Another detour I took from traditional sauce recipes is that I eliminated the process of pressing and straining the tomatoes. Why waste all of the flavor, fiber, and nutrients in the skins? Now, I simply wash the tomatoes; remove the stems and tough cores; and dice them.
The end result is a healthier sauce that is brimming with wonderful, rich flavor. I like the sauce’s texture more and truly think it tastes better.
This recipe is my basic tomato sauce recipe. I make two or three pots of it each summer and freeze it in 2.5 cup freezer containers. I add two cups of sauce to each container, which allows ample room for expansion in the freezer.
You will notice one vital ingredient that is missing from this recipe: the cheese. I add pecorino romano or parmesan cheese the day I am serving the sauce rather than during the long simmering process. It does not matter when you add the cheese; but if you add it while it is simmering all day, then you need to stir the sauce more frequently to prevent burning.
Also, I add other vegetables like peppers and mushrooms when I reheat the sauce. I prefer the texture of these vegetables when they are added at the last moment and find that the freezer alters them too much for my preference. Another reason to add them later is to eliminate the challenge of differentiating plain tomato sauce from mushroom or pepper tomato sauce in the freezer (yes, I suppose one could label it!).Savory Heirloom Tomato Sauce
- 10 quarts diced tomatoes
- 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
- 2 heads garlic, pressed
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 24 oz. tomato paste
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh oregano
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup chopped flat Italian parsley
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Yield: 13, 2-cup servings (26 cups)
Wash, core, and dice enough tomatoes to fill a large stockpot with 10 quarts of tomatoes. Use stainless steel cookware to minimize the chances of ingredients sticking to the bottom of the pot. Heat on high until boiling and then reduce the heat to low. While the tomatoes are simmering, clean and chop the onions. (I like to puree the onions in a blender with some juice from the tomatoes, but you may prefer to finely chop them instead.) Add the onions to the tomatoes.
Add the olive oil to a small sauté pan. Clean the garlic and press the cloves (with a handheld garlic press) into the olive oil. Heat over medium to high heat until the garlic sautés and turns lightly golden for about three minutes. Do not allow it to brown. Add the garlic and olive oil mixture to the tomatoes.
Add the salt and pepper to the tomatoes and simmer uncovered on low for about six hours; stirring the sauce at least once every 30 minutes. After six hours, stir in the tomato paste, red wine, and fresh herbs. Simmer on low another 30 minutes. At this point, the excess water from the tomatoes should have evaporated and the sauce should be thick.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool. When cooled to room temperature, ladle the sauce into freezer containers and freeze.
To serve, simply defrost and reheat. Add some freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese and serve over hot pasta. Buon Appetito!