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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.

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Garden update 6-4

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First the bad news my sugar snaps did not make it. We had some storms a little while ago that had high winds. The sugar snap trellis that I made had become so top-heavy with the sugar snaps growing up it that it was knocked over enough times to pull their roots up enough to destroy the plants. It’s early enough in that year that I am going to replant them, but first I’m going to figure out a better trellis.

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My tomato plants are doing wonderful the plum and cherry tomatoes are so abundant right now that I can’t eat them all. My coworkers love them.

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In front is my regular tomato bush which is slower than the others but it’s still producing fruit. The incredibly large thing behind it is my dill plant which I’m allowing to go to seed. I am doing this so that next year I will have dill seeds to plant, and I will also have fresh dill seed to continue making pickles over the summer.

Other than that I’ve just been watering my garden on a regular basis because of the heat, I’ve also been adding compost tea and fertilizer. This weekend I’m going to go and add more mulch because a lot of what I had originally put down has broken down enough that it’s no longer serving the purpose of mulch.

My cucumber and squash plants are moving kind of slow right now. I think I planted them late, and the lack of mulch is slowing them down.

Garlic dill pickles

I made these yesterday, and wrote the post yesterday. I wanted to taste the pickles before posting. In case your wondering they are yummy.

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Here is an important thing to remember. I love pickles. LOVE. Big shouty capital letters love pickles. We regularly make fridge pickles. Basically fridge pickles are what happens when you follow the following procedure up until the point of the hot water bath. They are usually ready to eat within 3 to 5 hours of putting the lid on the jars.

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That is a bag of what is referred to as pickling cucumbers, or Kirby cucumbers. They are smaller, more bumpy, and quite honestly different than what is considered to be a salad cucumber. They have less noticeable seeds and a lower water content. I have also seen them referred to as salad cucumbers here in central Texas.

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These were purchased this morning at Barton Creek farmers market, it’s about 5 pounds of them separated into “large” medium and small size. Size terms in reference to pickling cucumbers is relative I personally would not purchase a pickling cucumber that is larger than 6 inches.

The small size pickling cucumbers which are very close to what it’s called a gerkin I used to try an experiment in making sweet relish. I’m going to post on that experiment later, but I will say I did the process in reverse order.

But, back to garlic dills

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Whenever I make pickles I’ve always made sliced pickles I’ve never really made spears. The reason for that is when making fridge pickles you want a thinly sliced cucumber that will pickle very quickly in the vinegar brine.

I start by slicing both ends off of the cucumber, come to find out later that is part of the reason I’ve had such success in making pickles. The end of the cucumber that was attached to the bush and has the blossom on it contains an enzyme that will cause the cucumber to make mushy pickles. Grape leaves inhibit this.

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When slicing the cucumbers I use a mandolin slicer with the wavy blade. In my own opinion this increases the surface area and and promotes quicker pickling especially in fridge pickles. For pickles that will be going through a hot water bath for proper canning I sliced them thicker then I would if I were simply making fridge pickles.

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The larger bowl is the sliced cucumbers that will be used in canning the pickle, the smaller bowl is the nub end of the cucumber that was no longer safe to slice on the mandolin.

Here is where I went wrong. In the future I would use those nubby ends to make relish. This time I used the ends
to make pickle chunks. If I had sliced the small cucumbers and saved the ends the way I did on the others I still would’ve had enough cucumbers for the relish recipe I’ll post later. That is the reason I’m posting about the pickles first and the relish later, don’t follow my mistakes.

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I harvested as much of the dill as I could while attempting to preserve the flowering head that are coming up on the plant.

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Take the sliced cucumbers and began to place them in the jars about halfway up in a clove of garlic and some of the fresh dill.

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These are the jars once they are packed. You want to get as many cucumbers in the jar as you can and then push them down, not to the point of bruising or squishing any of the cucumbers. But, you want to get as much airspace out of that jar as you can before you add the pickling solution.

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These are the packed jars with the pickling solution poured over the top.

At this point you’re probably saying awesome how do I do this?!
First take a second to visit a recipe at food in jars.

Copied and modified from Food In Jars post. The dashes are modifications, all pepper was omitted. I don’t like heat.

Garlic Dill Pickles

Makes approximately 8 pints (total yield varies depending on size of cucumbers)

-about 4 lbs pickling cucumbers, ends removed and sliced at least 3/16th inch thicko
– 3 cups apple cider vinegar
– 2 cups plain white vinegar (make sure of 5% acidity *
– 5 cups water
– 7 tablespoons pickling salt
16 (plus some) garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)**
– I used about 4 heads of fresh dill seed per jar. {1 teaspoon dill seed per jar (8 teaspoons total) if using store bought dill seed, if so don’t feel bad this is what I have used every other time I have made pickles, today I was lucky enough to have someone hand me fresh dill seed heads}
– 1 tablespoon celery seed
– 1 tablespoon mustard seed

Some housekeeping notes:

I use an 8 quart stainless steel stockpot for water bath canning. I use it because I found it at a Ross store for less than $20. Also, it won’t react with the vinegar.

I used pint widemouth jars for a these pickles. With one widemouth half pint jar for the remaining cucumber ends. I have worked in food service before and I understand the need for sterilization, and food sanitation. To sterilize the jars for canning purposes I use my dishwasher on a heat dry setting. I put the jars the lids and the band into the dishwasher for a full cycle. If you do not have a dishwasher boil everything for at the least 15 minutes. This is not a step that you can skimp on or halfway to do. If you have never looked up what botulism is please take a moment and do so now. It’s not funny and is not worth you slacking off that part of the canning process. If it seems like I am over stressing sterilization please understand that I work in a field where I encounter the aftermath of food borne illness on a regular basis.

After packing the cucumbers, and adding the pickling brine that has been brought to a boil make sure that the lid of the jars, the pink or red rubber seal is moistened before placing on top of the jars. This allows a good contact field before you loosely screw on the band.

(In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about when I say the band there is the glass jar there is the flat lid with a a rubber coating around the edge, and then the screwtop circular piece that circular piece is the band. I’m harping on these points because this post is aimed at someone who has never canned something to food storage specifications. If properly canned these pickles can sit on a shelf without refrigeration for a year or better. I recently ate some bread and butter pickles that I had canned two years ago.)

Place the sealed and loosely screwed jars into the hot water bath for exactly 10 minutes. If you purchase a basic canning kit that is available at Walmart it will come with a pair of jar grabbers, a jar funnel, and a headspace measuring tool. These are all very useful especially the jar grabber.

Once out of the hot water bath allow the jars to come to room temperature. Push in the center of the jar lid if you hear a popping noise stick that jar in the refrigerator immediately. That popping noise means the jar did not seal correctly in the hot water bath and is not safe to leave out at room temperature. You’re not always going to get hundred percent perfect seal rate when canning. In fact for me today that little half pint jar of pickles and did not seal, it is currently sitting in my fridge and is going to be what is known as fridge pickles.

If at this point you’re still reading and still intrigued please understand that this is not as daunting at the task as it seems. If you don’t have the materials to do the hot water bath you can put the jars of pickles in the refrigerator immediately after they have come to room temperature with the boiling vinegar brine. Those are fridge pickles I would say that they are safe to eat as long as they are not discolored, moldy, or smell funny. If you can’t tell that what you’re eating smells funny that my dear friend is Darwin in action.

Admitting failures

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When I talk about admitting failures in gardening I’m not saying that I don’t have plants that are doing wonderfully and are exceeding my expectations. I’m saying that there comes a point when you need to realize that something that you’ve planted is not working and it’s okay to just pull it up and start over. It’s also okay to admit that you planted something that you don’t like, or don’t care to eat.

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The collard greens are a good example of something I planted that failed despite my efforts. With them I don’t know if it was I planted them too early, in the wrong place, or if it was just a bad batch of seeds. So I just picked a different square of something else that didn’t work out and replanted them to see what happens in a different area, and actually in the other bed.

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Another thing that did not work out for me very well where the onion transplants. For these it could’ve been that I bought them late, did not plant them immediately, or who knows what happened. Either way they completely failed to grow after the first month or so. After a couple of weeks of pulling one or two dead onion stocks out I finally just pulled them all. I decided to plant bunching onions in this one of the squares that they had been. I planted collard greens in the other square in an effort to help give my lettuce square some additional shade as it gets hotter.

I don’t have a picture of my other failed plant. And it was kind of a different situation, I hated the plants growth habit, it was Malabar spinach. It was growing it was doing well, the failure in that plant is that it sends up runners. I didn’t realize when I bought the plant that this is what it was going to do which in this case is my lack of research. After several weeks of going through the garden bed and pulling up spinach sprouts everywhere, I sort of had a little temper tantrum and just ripped them all out.

Another thing that I did today was to go through and work on my succession planting of beets and carrots. While I have not harvested either of these plants there something I am determined to grow successfully.

Dill Chicken Salad

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Dill Chicken Salad is simplifying a wee bit. Before you freak over the ingredient list, think of this as an example of what you can do with a left over grilled chicken breast.

Ingredients
-2 grilled chicken breasts, chilled
– 1/2 cup mayonnaise (NOT Miracle whip*)
– splash of each
Italian dressing
Lemon juice
Red wine vinegar
– Dry Dill (to taste, I like to know it’s there)
– SP&G (salt, pepper, and fresh ground garlic powder) to taste.
– Diced Granny smith apple
– Diced almond (about a tablespoon)
– Shredded cheddar
– Real bacon bits

This is where the beauty of this application lies. The ratio of ingredients is what you like.

I marinate the chicken breasts in Italian dressing, then freeze 2 breasts per package. Thaw and grill when needed. We had steak the other night and I love to have this chicken salad for weekday lunch. So toss on grill, let em get cooled, bag and throw in the fridge. Voila ~ chicken salad starter!

* Miracle Whip has a strong place in my kitchen, but the real mayo flavor is what chicken salad needs. I’ll save the miracle whip for potato salad and sammiches.

I love garlic, we buy granulated garlic and keep it over the stove in a small pepper grinder from Ikea.

Dill Chicken Salad

20111106-185111.jpg

Dill Chicken Salad is simplifying a wee bit. Before you freak over the ingredient list, think of this as an example of what you can do with a left over grilled chicken breast.

Ingredients
-2 grilled chicken breasts, chilled
– 1/2 cup mayonnaise (NOT Miracle whip*)
– splash of each
Italian dressing
Lemon juice
Red wine vinegar
– Dry Dill (to taste, I like to know it’s there)
– SP&G (salt, pepper, and fresh ground garlic powder) to taste.
– Diced Granny smith apple
– Diced almond (about a tablespoon)
– Shredded cheddar
– Real bacon bits

This is where the beauty of this application lies. The ratio of ingredients is what you like.

I marinate the chicken breasts in Italian dressing, then freeze 2 breasts per package. Thaw and grill when needed. We had steak the other night and I love to have this chicken salad for weekday lunch. So toss on grill, let em get cooled, bag and throw in the fridge. Voila ~ chicken salad starter!

* Miracle Whip has a strong place in my kitchen, but the real mayo flavor is what chicken salad needs. I’ll save the miracle whip for potato salad and sammiches.

I love garlic, we buy granulated garlic and keep it over the stove in a small pepper grinder from Ikea.