Monthly Archives: August 2012

Vanilla Strawberry Jam

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I’m amazed at how easy making jam was, and also how much better it tastes.

Strawberries were on sale, and I decided to see if I could make jam, and if it would really be better.

Well… I can, and oh my goodness is it better. There is a secret you see, butter. Yes butter, unsalted real butter. I found this out from The Pioneer Woman. I can’t comment on if it really cuts down on the foam. It adds a richness though, a mouthfeel that leaves regular jam tasting flat.

I smashed my fruit in the pot. I figured if I didn’t get it broken up enough there was always the stick blender. I had enough strawberry to make 2 batches using Ball Real Fruit Pectin the low sugar variety. I seeded 2 vanilla beans, and let the pods cook in the jelly. Removing them before canning.

This was a small experimental batch, and l will be on the lookout for strawberries on sale for sure. It’s so good a jar could be gone in a day.

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Pickled Green Beans

Sometimes I am easily distracted, Ohhh look a shiny! Sometimes that distraction yields a wonderful idea. While I was grocery shopping this morning I went to peruse the prepared food section in the produce department at my local grocery store. I saw a roasted tomatillo salsa kit, and was all ohhhh I could make that…. Then as I sort of gazed to the side I saw a package of green beans. Haricot vert. Small, slender, gorgeous green beans. Instantly I HAD to make pickled green beans.

I had these once before at a friends birthday party as an appetizer or small plate at a restaurant. I loved them. I didn’t want to share. So, seeing this package of green beans I knew what my task of the day was. I was going to make my very own pickled green beans.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow provided a wonderful base recipe for me to work off of.

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Trimming the end off of 2 pounds of very slender green beans is a lot more work than you realize. I used scissors, next time I would use a knife.

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All trimmed. Finally.

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I found pint & half jars. They are taller and wide mouth, and would be awesome for pickling asparagus. However depending on your green beans they should fit in a pint wide mouth jar (you know this is my first time doing this, and my mistakes are ones you won’t have to repeat, see I took care of part of your learning curve)

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A jar packed with green beans, fresh garlic, and a jalapeno. I probably will not eat this jar that my husband might.

I ended up with four jars, but not enough vinegar brine. So I had to quickly make a back up batch, without garlic vinegar. I used the majority of this second brine for the jalapeƱo jar. I made a jar with dried dill weed and dried dill seed. I made a second jar with only dried dill seed. And the third jar had only dried celery seed. All of the jars had a fresh clothes of garlic in addition to the green beans and vinegar brine. I did this because I want to taste what the different ingredients result in. I don’t know what flavor I’m looking for I just know that I want pickled green beans. Experiment!

Recipe
Brine
1/4 cup of pickling salt
1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup plain white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water

Sanitize jars and lids by running a normal cycle under dishwasher without detergent.

Pack the jars with the green beans standing up, and the flavors you want.

Pour the boiling brine into each of your jars. Process in a hot water bath for 15 to 20 minutes.

Now I challenge you to wait, give those beans a few days to meld. Don’t eat them, just let them marinate for Ohhh I don’t know I think I can wait a week.

Garden update

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I have been completely slacking on updating what is been going on with my garden boxes. As you can see from the picture above they look a lot different than last time I updated.

The bed that is now empty I am working on figuring out some form of irrigation for it in preparation for my fall garden.

My husband helped me build a PVC grid that he drilled small holes into in an attempt to form an irrigation system and also a marking system for the different sections. It works awesome for just being a grid. Sadly it sucks as irrigation because my boxes are not level. I think that grid is going to become a trellis.

Those are my tomato bushes that I was about to give in and rip out before I noticed that the entire top third of them are once again covered in fruit. There for a while the heat was so bad that they were flowering they weren’t setting properly. Now it’s back to me vs. the birds for tomatoes.

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Also along the lines of being lazy that is a baby cantaloupe. I picked up the cantaloupe plant on a whim one day at the nursery and forgot to plant it for about a week and ended up sticking in a large pot and setting it off to the side of the garden and forgetting about it. Apparently it was getting enough water to give me one baby cantaloupe.

Right now I am in the process of getting ready to start planting the empty box for my fall garden. November 20 is the average first frost date for where I live. That gives me about 90 days to start for plants that are frost tolerant, or about a month of plants that have about a 60 day plant to harvest time. If I cover when it gets cold, I might have tomatoes for a good while longer!