Hello and Welcome! Good News – We got rain 🙂 I’m guessing somewhere around 2 1/2 inches between Wednesday and Thursday. The gardens, the lawns, the trees – everything needed that rain. So while we get at least a few days off from watering let me tell you about some of the preserving we’ve been doing.
Dill pickles – It’s been many years since I’ve made dill pickles using the water bath (canning) method. In more recent years I have fermented pickles and made refrigerator pickles, but both take up space in the refrigerator, so I decided to try canning dill pickles again. One of the reasons I had not canned pickles recently is because they tended to get mushy. I did some reading about making crisp dill pickles and one of the suggestions was to use distilled water since the chemicals (chlorine) added to water can cause the pickles to become mushy. I canned three quarts of dill pickles so far using distilled water. I also used our home-grown dill and garlic. We will try them in a couple weeks to see how they turned out.
Bread and Butter pickles – Yesterday I made bread and butter pickles – a tried and true recipe from the Ball Blue Book. The yield was 5 pints and my husband, who loves these pickles, is thrilled.
Cayenne – Another recipe that I found in the Ball Blue Book was for red hot sauce. Hot sauce is not something we use a lot of, but my husband likes to add a few drops to certain foods. The recipe that called for two quarts of tomatoes and about 24 cayenne peppers made two pints of sauce. That will likely be enough to last us through the year.
Cayenne plants tend to be heavy producers and somehow we ended up with a bunch of cayenne plants this year. Rather than use the dehydrator to dry then We decided to string them and hang them to dry. I think I have some daughters that will appreciate a string of hot peppers. Once they are dry they can be used by adding a whole pepper to a pot of chili or similar dish or they can be ground in a spice grinder or food processor to make red pepper flakes or crushed red pepper.
Notice they are turning red (continuing to ripen) as they hang.
Jalapeno and Banana peppers – Thus far I used banana and jalapeno peppers to make poppers. I have several packages of these in the freezer. They freeze well and can easily be cooked up in the oven or microwave. If we continue to harvest a lot of these, I might make up a batch of pickled peppers as well.
Bell peppers – Tuesday night I made stuffed bell peppers for dinner. I also made an additional five packages of stuffed peppers to freeze for future meals.
In past years storing potatoes has been a challenge for us as we don’t have a root cellar so we must try to eat them before they go bad. This year we decided to experiment with dehydrating them. My husband peeled and par boiled the potatoes than sliced them in the food processor to get and even thickness. The took about 4 hours on 140 degrees to dry to a crispy texture (much like the potatoes you would find in a box mix of au gratin potatoes). We then vacuum sealed them.
I have found directions for rehydrating them, but we have yet to try it. I will let you know when we do.
Of course not everything we harvest is being preserved. We are enjoying fresh vegetables daily. I do plan on writing about some of our garden meals but soon, but I don’t want to drag this post out too long so I’m just going to share a recipe I came across that we are REALLY ENJOYING.
I still have several jars of applesauce that I canned last year and wanted to use some up, so I decided to look for an applesauce cake recipe. I found this recipe for Land o Lakes Applesauce Spice Cake. I omitted the pecans in the recipe as I didn’t have any on hand. I also cheated and used a can of store bought frosting. Even with these changes this cake turned out sooo good.
Thanks for reading