Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kosher Style Pickles is to Pucker Up for!

I'm a lifelong dill pickle lover! Lost most of, if not all of my baby teeth in a big ol' dill pickle when I wasn't to much younger than my twins are now!
I love all kinds of pickles...sweet, icycle, bread n' butter...you name it, I eat it!

When my husband and I first bought this property, we decided that we were going to plant a garden that next spring...and WE DID! Neither one of us had done much in the way of gardening since we were both kids. When we were first married, my husbands mom would can eveything from ketchup to applesauce!

Spending time with her in the kitchen during those long weeks of hot and humid August weather, seemed almost unbearable, until the end...when you got to taste and savour your finished product...and oooooh, mmmm, so good! Then, you counted your blessings for all that the Lord has provided you with for that season, and called it good til' next year rolled around.

Anyway, here we are now...in our own home, raisin' twins...trying to make ends meet, and keep everyone healthy! It only makes sense, then, that we would have fresh foods to eat from our own garden...and what we can't eaat right away, well...we preserve! And we try to do it as a family, to make the experience more enriching! It's a lifeskill well learned, if you're paying attention!
And so it goes...cucumbers are in season...and mamas kitchen is open!

Everyone always raves about my dill pickles, and it's not anything special really...thinkin' it might be the love I put into each jar as I make it! Either way, I'd have to say, though, that the BLUE BALL BOOK of PRESERVING...has been my friend from the start! And that's actually where my kosher dill pickle recipe comes from...it's no secret...it's just good common sense!
If you're interested to find out more about it, you can go to http://www.freshpreserving.com or anywhere that sells canning supplies will most likely have it for you to purchase.

In the meantime...let's make some pickles...kosher style!
If you don't have a garden, it's okay...the farmer's market in your town will have everything you need...from cukes to garlic, they'll hook you up! Buy fresh, however...you want them to be crisp when you're starting out...and as well, wash em' up good too! We don't want any dirt or bugs in our pickles!
After washing them all up...cut the tips of the ends off and set aside...get your jars ready for raw packing now...I always wash mine and put em' through the hottest rinse cycle possible in my dishwasher...but if you don't have one of those...just rinse and let stand in the hottest water you can in your sink...you could pour some boiling water over em' too...just make sure they're good and sterilized!
These are all the ingredients you will be using:
The recipe we're using today, calls for 8lbs of cucumbers...weigh em' on a scale to make sure you know what you have...and they use 4-6" cukes for their pickles.
You will also need the following:
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. canning salt
1 qt. vinegar
1 qt. water
3 TBS. mixed pickling spices
Green or Dry Dill (1-2 heads per jar, you can use your stems too...the more dill the better!)

Now, combine your sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a large saucepot on the stove...tie up your pickling spices in a cloth bag and then add it to your vinegar mixture once it's hot...then let it simmer for a good 15-20 minutes or so.

While your sauce is cooking down, you need to start 'packing' your jars. I use quart jars, but some people prefer pints (it's all up to you and how many people will be eating them at one time in your household!)
Also,...If your cukes are too big slice em' length wise, otherwise I like to leave mine whole if I can!

 Before you begin packing your cukes in the hot sterilized jars now, add the following to each jar:

1-2 bay leaves,
1-3 cloves of garlic,
 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper,
 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper,
 1/2 tsp mustard seed,
 and...about 3-4 black peppercorns....

Now, pack those jars tight with the cukes...you can gently take a wooden spoon handle or a butter knife and move them around to get the best fit...then, put your head(s) of dill on top in the jar (scrunch em' down in there!) and make sure nothing is sticking out over the rim.

Your sauce should be ready to pour into your jars now...again, your can move a butter knife down through, gently, to remove any air bubbles from the mix...fill to within a 1/4" from the top of the rim.
Wipe your rim and around the side clean and sterilize with a hot water ring around the rim quickly before you place both caps on...make sure it's tight...place gently in your water bath that you have already prepared, and let bath for 15 minutes now.
And once done, take them out and place em' on a thick towel or two on the counter...they will seal themselves within an hour or two...when cooled, store or eat! ....and that's how you do it!

Again...I like to gift mine at the holidays...so, a few giftbaskets might be in order after you get em' all done...time to go thrift shopping again, don't ya think?! I'm game! See ya next time...for some more fun in the kitchen and around the farm!

Jam makin' session...Margarita Style!

Hey all! I'm back with a whole new adventure in jam and jelly makin'!

Remember last time we were talkin' about zucchini? Well, today we're talkin' cucumbers!

It's still the beginning of the season for us here in Wisconsin...we have a little later start to our canning season than most of you on the east coast or down south. But that's okay...gives me a little more time to play and have fun in the sun...and not cooped up here in my kitchen on a beautiful sunny day! It's the price you pay, when you have a garden I suppose...either way, it's all fun in the kitchen!

So, here we are...in my kitchen...cukes ready for chopping!
Since I knew I was going to have more than enough to make my special dill pickles...I took out the larger ones and chopped em' up for our Margarita Jam that we're getting ready to make here...
Gotta start ya off, gettin' all your ingredients around...You'll need to start off with: 2 limes (that you'll cut up before putting in the blender), along with 1/4 cup of lime juice, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice...blend well!

Then, take your cucumbers and core any big seeds out, while removing the outside rind from your cuke...you'll want to chunk it up...about 4 big cups worth...and then chop it all up fine in your blender with your current lime mixture that you started with.
 I like to use my handy dandy Tupperware Chop n' Prep here before adding it to the blender...just helps in the break down process...but it's not necessary....

Now that you have everything in your blender...all blended up...you can take and pour it into your pan that you have waiting on the stove for you and start to bring it to a boil on medium heat....all the while remember to be prepping for your hot water bath, prepped jars and lids for your future jelly storing...
Plus, you'll need to get the remaining ingredients that we're about to add to your jelly...
As you're starting to heat up your cucumber lime blend...you will add 1/3 cup of pectin to the mix as it is starting to heat up now....stirring all the while...bring it to a boil, and let it boil for 1 minute, then add 1 to 1-1/2 shots of Tequilla Gold...(depends on how strong you want it to be!)
Stir it all in...for another minute now...

then add a pinch of canning salt, and finish adding in 4 cups of sugar, all at once...allow to boil for another 3 minutes,
keep stirring occassionally (it will begin to get a bit sticky now)..and then, remove from heat after your 3 minutes are up.

Now take your pkg of lime jello and add to your mixture til' it's well blended...it will turn a pretty margarita green now!
Whoo-hoo! Aren't you lovin' it?! It's just so festive! Now, pour it into your prepared sterilized jars...I used pints, because it's what I had...but most people would use jelly jars, or 1/2 pints for their jelly storing purposes...they make great little gifts in that size as well! Make sure your lids are sterilized, and you've wiped down your jar rim with some of that hot boiling water from your lid water...then, your jars are ready for the two-lid application...gently place in your hot water bath...putting your lids back on top and processing for another 10 minutes now...then you have these pretty jars of 'Margarita' Jelly!

And remember, I said you could gift them...how bout' a mix of Strawberry Zucchini Jam & Festive Cucumber Margarita Jam together in a basket with a little christmas fabric!

Now...for the tasting! My favorite part! Get a small plate of cream cheese and add your margarita jelly to the top, like so with a few lime tortilla chips...and dig in my friend!
mmmmmm, so refreshing and limilicious!

Remember, this DOES have alcohol in it...so, you might want to serve this up when the kiddos are in bed sleepin'! Then, you can have some fun mixin' up a batch of margaritas to go along with it...or a cerveza or two! Whichever, enjoy the summer flavor, anytime of the year...and make sure to share it with a friend or two...just makes it more fun that way!