It's hot. It's humid. It's time to boil vinegar.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ok this site has been quiet long enough.

Some know me as Susu. Some know me as Mrs. Yam. One five-year-old I met camping last year knows me as Monster Gramma.

It’s now August and it’s hot and humid. Summer is not my season. I hate being hot. I hate sweating. So, what am I doing today? Pickling, which entails standing over pots of boiling vinegar, water and spices. This is an activity that forces one to be hot and sweaty. It’s 85 degrees and I’m guessing a dew point of 70. Minnesota is just not pleasant this time of year.

The Good Brother Yam is really good about indulging my whims. This morning’s whim was getting up early to go to the farmer‘s market, just to see what vegetables looked good for pickling and then have three or four pots of boiling water going on the stove for a while. We don‘t have air conditioning. The house is going to be hot enough without adding more heat and humidity. Oh well. That‘s life and hopefully, the pickles will make it worth it. Foregoing breakfast and, more importantly, coffee, we head to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market - the one on North Lyndale at 8 am. That seems to be the sweet spot for Sunday mornings. After the hardcore marketers and before the church people show up.

Maybe it’s not too late for teeny tiny cucumbers. Baby carrots would be good. I’m thinking of the mixed vegetable pickles that are made by just sitting on the counter. However, I do have a quest. I have okra pickles on the brain. I’ve never had a pickled okra before, but I have to make them. I’m not sure why. I was *really* hoping for little tiny okras. That market is pretty big, so I figured I’d find something to pickle. We did find beautiful little okras and long thin purple carrots from some of the Hmong farmers. We also picked up with some heirloom tomatoes (Green Moldovan and Vorlon), sweet corn, and a melon from the Gysland Brothers - Todd and Reid are crazy heirloom tomato growers. I’m guessing 70 or more different varieties. They also do red peppers. Those peppers are another post…

We forgot to get eggs, so we stopped at the Kingsfield Market to pick up some eggs and the Chef Shack was there. Brother Yam had a brisket taco and I had a black bean and sweet potato taco for breakfast. That alone was worth the stop.

We dropped off our goods at home and then wandered through the U of M Arboretum. Brother Yam took pictures of their vegetable gardens (we are already planning next year’s garden). By this time, we are both dripping with sweat and we are getting crabby because of the heat. So, we spent some time checking out the library and bookstore, for the air-conditioning as much as for the books. I need to find the book Self-Sufficient Gardener (or something like it, I’ve already forgotten the name) by John Seymour. Brother Yam found a book to help identify weeds. It’s too bad that isn’t a lending library. When we got home, I checked my canning books for recipes. Since I‘m pretty new to canning, I rely pretty heavily on recipes. My main go-tos are Bell Complete Book of Home Preserving edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine and The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Toff and Margaret Howard. That book is worth getting just for the strawberry jam recipe. I also refer to Stocking Up edited by the editors of Organic Gardening and Farming. I also check out Food In Jars website and more recently Punk Domestics website for ideas and inspiration.

While I was perusing my books for recipes, Brother Yam made us some cocktails. We had some left over cherries from making a cherry liqueur with sour cherries we picked in Door County last year. They were pretty boozy. He put them in a blender with some ice and lime juice and came up with a pretty refreshing beverage. It gave me the strength to face pots of boiling liquid on this horribly hot and humid day.

I found a straight-forward okra pickle recipe in the Home Preserving book.:

3 cups of water
3 cups of white vinegar
1/3 cup pickling salt
2 teaspoons of dill seed
3.5 lbs of small whole okra
4 cloves of garlic
2 hot red peppers - halved and seeded.

Prepare cans and lids. This makes about 4 pints.

In a large stainless steel sauce pan, combine water, vinegar, pickling salt and dill seeds. Bring to a boil until salt is dissolved. Reduce heat to keep hot until ready to use.

Pack okra into hot jars. Add a clove of garlic and ½ seeded pepper. (I did not seed my peppers and I used a whole pepper. I like spicy pickles) ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover okra, leaving 1.2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Add more liquid, if necessary. Wipe rims and place lids on the jars. Screw bands until resistance is met and it is finger-tip tight.

Place filled jars into canner. Make sure they are covered with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove lid and wait 5 minutes, remove jars, cool, listen for the ping (I added this step) and store.

I can hardly wait to try these. I’m thinking Bloody Marys.

I found a fun carrot pickle in the Stocking Up book:

2-3 bunches of carrots
2 cups of vinegar
1.5 cups of water
0.5 Tablespoons of whole cloves
0.5 Tablespoons of allspice
0.5 Tablespoons of mace
0.5 stick of cinnamon
0.5 cups of honey

Pare carrots and cut in strips that are the desired size and length of your canning jars, if possible. (the carrots I used were so small, I did not need to cut them). Boil in water until just heated through ( I didn‘t do this, as my carrots are so young). Pack hot carrots lengthwise in hot sterilized pint jars. Make a syrup of vinegar, water and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add honey. Bring to a boil again. Pour over the carrots. There should be a ¼ inch headspace. Process pint jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I used purple carrots and the color of the raw carrots is spectacular. I hope they retain the color. I wish I had Brother Yam take some pictures of these before I canned them. They’ll probably turn grey as a result of the processing.

While my pickles were boiling away in the water bath, I took a cup of Greek yogurt, added a little milk, some sugar, a splash of orange blossom water and mixed well and threw it in the freezer.

I hate being hot and sweaty. I'm going to take a shower.


Beany said...

But you must have felt good after that accomplishment. I bet the shower felt extra rewarding.

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