Friday, September 30, 2011

Pickle mania!

Saturday, September 17th,  I stopped by the Big Red Barn on the way back from volunteering at an event and went a little crazy with my canning purchases. 

(The Barn is located on 148th and Airport Way in Portland, OR and I have found that it is a good place to purchase things in bulk.)

Anyway, I got there just before 3 p.m. and decided that it was a good idea to purchase 15 lbs of green beans and 25 lbs each of carrots, cucumbers and beets. All told, it was less than $75 - how could I go wrong?

Saturday evening I sliced and salted just over half of the cucumbers - I had a little help from our neighbor Leah who was over for dinner.

 Sunday, I prepared three types of cucumber pickles:
  1. Lemongrass cucumber pickle - We made these last year, and while they were good, Mark and I both felt that they were a little lacking in the lemongrass department. This year, I steeped the bruised lemongrass a bit longer in the brine and made sure that the stalks that went into the jars were a bit more substantial.

    I consulted several similar pickle recipes and decided to forego cooking the cucumbers in brine and then packing them hot into the jars. My hope is that they will hold their crispy-ness better, and I think that packing them while cool is so much easier.

    We also opted to experiment a little be by adding one segment of a kaffir lime leaf and a chili pepper to half of the jars. I had also made homemade ginger syrup for ginger ale that morning, so I added a couple of table spoons to two jars too. We are excited to see how our tinkering worked in a couple of weeks.

  2. Spicy bread and butter - I love bread and butter pickles. For me, they are not your every day pickle, but when the mood strikes I can sit down and eat a whole jar. Mark is not so into sweet flavors, so I opted for the spicy variety which seem to fit his needs too.

  3. Quick dills - I chose this recipe because I wanted a quick recipe to use up all my remaining dills. I chose to do this recipe last and knew an easy, no-fuss recipe would be what I needed at that point in the day.

    I had separated out all of the small cucumbers on Saturday, so I was able to fit quite a few into each quart-sized jar.
I thought that the whole process would take an ungodly amount of time, and had visions of me pickling into the wee hours Sunday night.

Interestingly enough, the whole pickling adventure lasted from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. including about a half hour for lunch. I attribute this to good planning, especially having all of the ingredients and jars on-hand.

Zydeco Beans!
I started pickling the beans on Wednesday evening the following week.

While I was excited by the outcome, it was a bit overwhelming to do it after working all day.. Two evenings later I was done.

We canned the carrots and beets this past weekend and week (more after work time I will not let my eyes be bigger than what I can actually accomplish without canning till 10 ish on a work night - lesson definitely learned!)

More on beets and carrots later!

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