Thursday, September 20, 2012

End of the Garden Pickles

It's the time of year when we appreciate the bounty we have had and begin to glean the half grown squash and tomatoes and things. These wont get any bigger since the evenings are growing so cool, and that means pickles!
I usually make lots of dilly beans in the heat of summer but I have never tried fermented vegetables before. It turns out that the same bacteria that give us yogurty goodness also give us pickley goodness. I had no idea it was so easy:
1. 2 gallon glass crock (under 10 bucks from Walmart)
2. About 4lbs of small garden vegetables, washed and blossom ends removed.
3. 1 onion, sliced, 1 head of garlic, peeled, 2 seed heads of dill, intact.
4. 1 gallon of boiled water with 3/4c off kosher or pickling salt dissolved in it.
5. Grape leaves. Mine are wild in the backyard. 10 is plenty. These add crispness from tannic acid. You could use 1 tsp black tea if you have no grape leaves, but the pickles may be tea stained by that.
6. Big jar full of water. Small plate or plastic lid.

This is by far the prettiest thing I've made lately.

Wash crock and big jar and plate with hot soapy water and sanitize by pouring a kettle of boiling water over it. Place cover on crock and let steam 5 minutes.
Pack layer of grape leaf, onion rings, garlic chunks and vegetables, until jar is full 1 inch from top. End with grape leaf layer.
Place plate or plastic lid into the mouth of the crock, as big as will fit. This is called the follower and it keeps everything below the brine. Vegetables are whole. I used peppers, green zebra tomatoes, zucchini and pattypan squashes. Cukes, radishes and garlic scapes would all work great.
Put the crock into the sink.
Put the big jar on top of the follower, fill it with water so it will hold down your pickles.
Pour the still warm gallon of brine over everything until the crock is full to the top edge. It will overflow into the sink.
Now carefully put the crock on the counter at room temperature. In 2 days you will see bubbles. You may want to put it in a pan because it may overflow a little bit as the pickles age. Taste daily day 3-7. When you like the taste, remove the big jar and place the crock with its lid into the fridge!
You made pickles!
The fermenting stops in the cold fridge, you have a month or so to enjoy your pickles.
These should be ready on the Equinox for our meal. Next I want to try making sauerkraut.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The rhythm of the year

Mabon and harvest time bring the wheel of the year around for me. I've never lost that "New school year" feeling and even though early September is still the height of harvesting herbs and yard work season here in overwarm Pennsylvania I feel the urge to go out and buy a backpack and some pencils.
So, while my goal for this season is to shed and simplify by culling things from the former stages of my life- what I appear to be doing instead is making big lists of tasks that are ADDED to the already busy canning, drying and reclaiming the wild backyard tasks.
This is not simplifying. I need a better method, or a timeline. Or a professional planner. Maybe a few pencils.

Lists have taken over my coffee time and caused my photos to be all tilty!