Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pickled beets and the Cadillac of canning jars!

If you are a canner, you share my awe and envy every time you see a Weck canning jar.  They are so beautiful!  They are made entirely of glass, including the lid, with a rubber gasket and two little metal clips to hold it in place while canning.  In early spring, I started buying just a few.  I would love to increase the amount I have, but they are not cheap!  I have been waiting and waiting to can up some beets in these glorious jars.  My husband is from Pennsylvania, and so is my dad so pickled beets is very much a part of our taste repertoire.  I think they make beets taste soooooooooo good.

For picture purposes, I stacked the jars, but you do not want to store your jars this way.  You shouldn't do this for most jars because if there is a problem with your canning and gases start accumulating in the jars, it will pop the lid off.  You want that to happen so that you know it is no longer good.   Anyways, here's a recipe I used. 

Pickled Beets:
7 lbs. beets
4 cups 5% vinegar
1 1/2 tsp pickling or canning salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves

Trim the beets (ends and stalks to about an inch) and wash.  Bring to a boil in a pan of water until they are tender, 25-30 min. Let beets cool and throw out the cooking liquid (you can let that cool and water a part of your garden with it).  Once cooled, cut up your beets.  I made mine into 1/4" slices, but I've seen people use dices as well.  I've also seen baby beets canned whole.  You decide! Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, and the water.  Use a cheesecloth for the spices or a tea infuser ball and place in vinegar mixture.  Bring to a boil and then add the beets for five more minutes.  Remove the spice bag and start filling your jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Pints and quarts are process for 30 minutes at sea level.  Since I am at a high elevation, I had to process for 40 minutes.  This recipe makes approximately 8 pints.  

Now I had leftover pickling liquid.  Waste not, want not.  In Pennsylvania, there is this beautiful creation called "red beet eggs."  Once you are done with the beets, use your liquid to infuse hard boiled eggs.  Store in the fridge over night and try them the next day.  

This is the only picture I have because the family ate them all...very quickly!  I haven't looked into whether or not these can be canned.  ???  I swear I have seen them canned but that could be my over-40 mind playing tricks on me.  Let me know if you know this is a canning recipe as well.  ???  For safety's sake until we know for sure, keep them in your fridge until all is consumed!  I hope you enjoyed this post!  Blessings to you!  Enjoy your harvest and the work of your hands!

When life gives you hail, IMPROVISE!

You saw the damage. Not pretty.  This was my best year for tomatoes.  I lost four plants, two of which were massive!  They were magnificent.  But amazingly, the plants did their job and protected the tomatoes...everything was stripped except for the tomatoes.  I lost some, but I had 17 pounds of perfectly good green tomatoes.  What to do, what to do????  Usually it's in late fall when I have this problem and I just let the green tomatoes ripen inside.  I've been seeing so much on green tomatoes lately that I wanted to try some things.

Here's a sampling of some of my tomatoes.  They were just gorgeous.  I decided to make a green tomato salsa, picalilli (which is a green tomato relish), and also with some of my zucchini, I made mock pineapple.

It all turned out beautifully and the mock pineapple (zucchini) tastes just like pineapple!  We put it on some pizza.  It's awesome.  I found something else that I will no longer need to buy.  I rarely use pineapple so that's going to be a real treat!  I hope through life's storms you find the unexpected treasures!  Blessings to you!  Happy canning and harvesting!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When hail prevails...or does it?

These WERE my eleven/twelve-foot "Sunzilla" sunflowers. We had a massive hailstorm that reeked havoc in my garden.  (Sorry for the pic was terribly humid the next morning).  I love giant sunflowers.  They can survive most hail storms...they just tilt their heads down and take a little beating.  This was no little hail storm.  

For the first time, it caused a little bit of leakage into our basement.  All this happened while I was away from home.  But the heroes of the day were my children.  Just before I left, I had them cover up my front yard garden with tarps. I have hail cloth over my tomatoes.  It shouldn't have been a problem.  My oldest was on the computer in the basement and my second oldest was going to show her how much hail there was at the basement window when she stepped into a puddle.  The children snapped into action.  The main portion of the basement is the library.  They all had to physically move the heavy shelves away from the window and the puddles on the floor.  My son jumped outside and into the window well to remove all the hailstones and water to help stop the flow inside.  The girls put out towels and fans.  The towels that were soaked were then washed in the washing machine.  Color this mama proud!!!  They really made good decisions and they saved the library!!!

Like I said, I also have hail cloth over the tomatoes.  Well, hail cloth doesn't work if the hail comes in sideways...ummm, seriously, it came in sideways!

The tomatoes here next to the chunnel were about 6 feet tall.  Next year, I will bring the hail cloth down on all sides and enclose's kind of ridiculous, but a gardener's gotta do what a gardener's gotta do.  More hail cloth is on my Christmas list!

This was a big squash plant--again, under the hail cloth, that got decimated. But good news, it's back and doing pretty well!

Considering what happened to everything else, this is 2 of 4 brussel sprouts I have.  They endured and took quite a beating, but they are doing fine.  I am anticipating those fantastic brussel sprouts after the first frost!  So excited!  The hail comes...the hail just have to keep on growing.  Every year is a learning curve!  I hope you are having better weather where you are at.  It is now scorching hot again.  Oh peas have all sprouted and I'm getting ready to seed more lettuce and carrots and greens.  Next post...what I did with all the damaged goods!  Blessings to you and happy end of summer!!!