08 August 2011

Family recipe Monday: pickled vegetables

Abandoned hotel, Fairburn, South Dakota

Last week may have set a record for the number of miles I have traveled in a 4-day period without ever leaving the state. 1300. 1300 miles, partly to teach a monitoring class, partly to pick up a major donation of fossils that needed to move from one end of the state to another. Week before last, I leased a trailer so that our field leader could bring in a huge plaster-jacketed fossil from Wyoming--one day ahead of heavy rains, as it turned out. I know everyone at the local U-Haul office by name and no longer think twice about driving a heavily loaded moving van. It would be nice if they had better shocks, though. It'd be even nicer if I hadn't been driving a heavily loaded U-Haul with no shocks at the same time that every Harley rider on the planet was on the road headed for Sturgis,weaving in and out of the lanes like enraged hornets. But all worked out well. 

The farmers' markets here are still a little low on produce, but the preserves and canned goods are starting to show up. Rhubarb jam, caramel apple butter, watermelon pickles....the canning season is upon us. I don't know how the older girls managed the hottest activity of the year in the hottest months of the year, but manage they did. 

We are all wondering if there will be apples, chokecherries and wild plums this year after the roller-coaster extremes of the weather. But the vegetable crops look all right for now. Here are a couple of recipes for vegetable preservation that will bring the summer garden to the winter table. 

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 cups corn kernels
2 cups green beans, trimmed, cut into 1” lengths
1 each red and green bell peppers, cored, seeded
2 cups yellow wax beans, trimmed, cut into 1” lengths and diced (¼ ”)
2 cups peeled and diced (½”) carrots
1 cup white pearl onions
2 cups diced (½”) celery
2 cups peeled and diced (½”) seeded cucumbers
2 cups fresh lima beans
1 16-oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups white vinegar
6 cups granulated sugar
2 T coarse salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and lightly blanch cauliflower until just tender; remove to a large nonreactive pot. Repeat with the remaining 9 vegetables (all except the kidney beans), one at a time. Add the kidney beans, vinegar, sugar and salt to vegetables in the nonreactive pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat. Pack the hot vegetables into 4 hot, sterilized quart jars. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath.

2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 large sprigs fresh dill
2 ½  cups cider vinegar
2 ½  cups water
4 T coarse salt

Blanch the green beans in boiling water until tender but still crunchy (about 4 to 6 minutes). Drain. Place 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 tsp. cayenne (or more to taste) and a sprig of dill into each of 4 sterilized pint jars. Pack beans upright into the jars to fit within 1/4” of rim. Bring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan. Pour the hot liquid into the jars, leaving ¼ “ of head space. Seal and process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 5 minutes. Store for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator before serving. Serve cold. 

Happy Monday. Enjoy these shots from an abandoned hotel near here. 

There is preservation by ethanol....not recommended for sign carvers....

...and there is preservation by anything that kills everything. If they ask you to name your poison at this hotel bar, run like a citizen of Tokyo fleeing Godzilla.  

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