Putting Food By: Dilly Beans

We have a few little friends who have again found an entry point into our garden:  the rabbits.  So before they could reek havoc over too much of the garden space, I picked what I could from our bean patch because that seems to be their vegetable of choice right now.  I was shocked to find, that despite this incessant heat we have been experiencing, I was able to harvest quite a hefty bean crop.  In fact, I was able to gather so much that I needed to find something to do with some of them.  Enter dilly beans.

For those of you that have never had dilly beans, they are just plain yummy.  A little hot from the chilli peppers, a little sour from the vinegar and a little spicy from the garlic…what more could a girl ask for?

This year I found a great recipe in Putting Food By (listed below with a link), which only required a hot water bath canning method.  There were very few ingredients required and the entire process did not take long at all.  Now we have some more great summer veg ready to go for the winter.

What do you do with your surplus of green beans?  Leave a comment and share ideas with others.

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Some of our favorite home preservation books are:

Putting Food By by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (There are some great canning recipes scattered throughout the piece.)

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader

Putting Food By: Pickled Beets

 

Despite the extreme heat we have had the past several days, our beets seem to be absolutely thriving.  In fact, they seem to be the only thing in our garden these days that are not being absolutely devoured by Japanese beetles.  Ug.

But enough of the negative and on to the positive…these beets.  Yum.  We pulled up our first round of beets this week and we were thrilled to find they had filled out nicely beneath the thick layer of soil.  My favorite way to eat beets is to pickle them, so I used a very easy pickling recipe from Putting Food By (listed below with a link), and before I knew it we had jars full of tart and scrumptious pickled beets.

 

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Some of our favorite home preservation books are:

Putting Food By by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (There are some great canning recipes scattered throughout the piece.)

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader

Putting Food By: Black Raspberry Jam

Is there anything better than homemade bread smothered in freshly made jam?  I really cannot think of a single thing that sounds better than that at this moment.

I have been eating freezer jam from as far back as I can remember.  Each and every time I went to visit my Grandma and Grandpa Dietmeier, I could be assured that there would be a fresh jar of homemade jam in the fridge just waiting for me to dig in.  My all time favorite treat was when my Grandpa Dit would give me a scoop of butter pecan ice cream with homemade jam on top.  Oh my.  My mouth is watering right now at the simple thought of it!

I want to be sure my girls have these same fond memories of delicious home-preserved food as I do, so I have been making freezer jam for the past four years.  I normally make my jam from strawberries I buy at the farmers market, but this year I whipped up a batch with the black raspberries we picked this past weekend.  It seemed to make the entire process so much more invigorating to know that we picked all of the berries with our own hands, and then made the jam as well.  Yummy!

Another first this year is that I switched away from the pectin I was using in years past and moved to Pomona’s Universal Pectin.  And let me tell you, I loved it!  I ended up using 6 cups less sugar than I would have to make the same amount of jam with the other pectin!  The taste was amazing because you could taste the tartness of the berries so much more than you could when all of that sugar is in there to cover up the natural flavor of the fruit.  I would recommend Pomona’s to anyone thinking of making jam this year.

Putting Food By: Rhubarb and Strawberries

Today I bring you another quick food preservation tip.  Today’s topic:  rhubarb and strawberries…The perfect combo!  Rhubarb and strawberries freeze beautifully and it takes little time.

For the rhubarb:  Rinse the rhubarb and allow to dry.  Then cut off the rough ends of each piece.  Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch bits, toss into a gallon size freezer bag and you are done.  Throughout the year, I simply pull out the desired amount of rhubarb I need for a recipe, allow it to thaw out and you are all set.

For the strawberries:  Wash the strawberries and pinch off the green leaves and stem. Allow the strawberries to dry.  Then place the strawberries on a cookie sheet or baking pan.  Place the pan in the freezer for a couple of hours.  (This will allow each strawberries to freeze individually, so that you don’t have a giant mass of frozen strawberries in a freezer bag that you can’t use.)

Once the strawberries have frozen, toss them into a gallon size freezer bag and that’s it!  I pull these frozen jewels out all year long to add to our smoothies.  You could of course allow them to thaw and use them in baked goods as well.

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Some of our favorite home preservation books are:

Putting Food By by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (There are some great canning recipes scattered throughout the piece.)

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader

Putting Food By: Garlic Scapes

This month marks the two year point from when I was able to start staying home with my little ones and really begin to start honing my homemaking skills.  The past two years have been magical, challenging, and as all new adventures are….educational.

One of my greatest feats I have been able to tackle has been putting food by for my family for those cooler months when food is not as abundant, or doesn’t come up at all.  Now, I word this as a feat because I was always so intimidated by the entire idea of food preservation.  I felt like there was so much research to be done, classes to be taken, and all of this was daunting because that meant time, time, time.

However, now that I have done the research, I have come to realize that putting food by does not have to be alarming at all.  And in all honesty, it doesn’t have to take up much time either.

My biggest source of information when it comes to food preservation has been talking with farmers and other shoppers at the local farmer’s markets.  You can learn a lot talking to the nona who has been canning tomato sauce for 50 years, or the farmer who has been freezing their strawberries for as long as they have been growing them.  And the great part about these conversations is that they don’t take any more than a few minutes, and then you can be on your way, ready to begin your preservation journey.

Yesterday I had one of these fabulous conversations with a local farmer who was selling garlic scapes.  Garlic scapes are the green off shoots that emerge from the soil when growing hardneck Rocombole garlic.  It looks much like a green onion, but a bit thinner and curly.  The farmer told me that you can prepare garlic scapes as you would green onions, but it obviously adds a lovely garlic taste to the dish instead of an oniony one.

The farmer then proceeded to tell me they freeze beautifully.  This made my ears perk up because I’m always in the market for food I can put by for another day.  She told me to simply rise off the scopes and cut them into one to two inch sections.

Then you simply place the pieces in a small zip lock freezer bag and freeze.  She told me she will pull a few chunks out if she is making chilli or soup in the winter time and she just throws them in the pot frozen and they cook up nicely and give the dish delicious spicy flavor.

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Some of our favorite home preservation books are:

Putting Food By by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (There are some great canning recipes scattered throughout the piece.)

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader