Before I get started, I have a confession to make. I don’t really follow a recipe. I find one when I am looking and check to see if I like most of it and then I use it with a few adjustments. They usually taste good, but as my children would tell you the dishes never look quite what the pictures do. But as long as it tastes good and people eat it and ask for it again, I figure it is a keeper.
One problem with this method is that I never think to write down what went into the pot.
In other words I can make the same thing the next week and it will taste totally different. I guess you could say it is a food adventure. Or maybe just blind luck when the dish finally makes it to the table and everyone raves about it.
Now with the canning recipes I was trying to stick pretty close to the recipe so I chose one that could be mixed and matched with the vegetables I had on hand. Another plus for the recipe is that it makes not too much or takes a lot of time. I do not want to be doing this for hours on a nice day when I could be outside. So 2 hours is my time limit with waiting time for sterilizing jars. This takes about 20 minutes and you can do something else while waiting. If you are organized you could get all the equipment you have used washed and put away. If you are not organized you could go to the computer and look up the next recipe you might want to try. It is entirely up to you but I vote for the computer.
I found this sweet mixed pickle recipe at cdkitchen on line and it is a pretty basic vinegar recipe. Easy and quick to do.
4 cups cut cucumbers / 2 cups cut carrots / 2 cups cut celery / 2 red bell peppers / 1 pod hot red pepper / 1 cauliflower / 2 cups pickling onions / 1 cup salt / 4 tbsp mustard seed / 2 tbsp celery seed / 1 1/2 cups of sugar 5 cups vinegar.
wash, rinse, drain, seed and cut vegetables as desired. Dissolve salt in water. Pour over vegetables. Let stand about 18 hours.
Drain. Add seeds and sugar to vinegar. Boil 3 minutes. Add vegetables, simmer till hot through, then bring to boil. Pack, boiling hot, into hot sterilized jars.
Seal at once.
This recipe makes 4.5 pints
Nice and easy and it really does not take much time out of your day. I cut and put the vegetables to soak the night before and have the jars washed and ready to go when I get up in the morning.
It takes about 1/2 an hour at night and soaking them for the 18 hours lets me get other work done before I start with the mixing and sterilizing of jars and equipment. Where I change the recipe is this.
We do not like spicy things so I leave out the hot red pepper. My husband cannot eat peppers so they are not added. But my husband really likes the cauliflower and onions so I replace the peppers with those and even take out some of the cucumber so he can have lots of the things he likes. Also I do not like sweets so I add a bit less sugar. He doesn’t notice that change. I also use diabetic sweetener instead of sugar for ones I am keeping for us. We are diabetic but like pickles and relishes and store bought ones are off the list of common foods, so making my own lets us enjoy things more. I use Splenda since I find it has more taste in common with sugar but I use a lot less than the recipe calls for. We find it more sweet than sugar.
For this recipe one friend of mine pickles asparagus with it and it is a hit in her home. Will have to find out how long she soaks the asparagus for in the brine. I don’t think it would take 18 hours and I have seen recipes where you just cut it to size and pack it immediately. That would be my way to go.
Like I said I mix and match recipes to suit our tastes.
I have been making flavoured vinegars as well. At this time I have 3 bottles of mint vinegar, 3 bottles of blueberry vinegar, and 1 of tarragon, 1 of oregano, and one of sage and rosemary. Not sure about the sage and rosemary mix but will try it soon.
For the mint vinegar you take 2 cups of malt vinegar, heated to hot not boiled pour it over mint leaves seal it in a jar and let it sit for 3 weeks then put it into sterilized bottles. The same for the other herb vinegars. The blueberry one you use cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. You can mash the berries and pour the vinegar over this or leave them whole, I left them whole and now the berries are in the fridge and when I want something small to just give a bit of taste I get 3 or 4. The vinegar is not over powering and it is a nice tart sweet taste. Takes away any sweet craving I might have and they are easy to get at. You only let them rest in a dark place for 2 or 3 days and then strain it into bottles.
The hardest part of these recipes is finding nice size bottles with a good seal. We were at the liquor store getting wine when I spotted a Dutch beer with plastic and rubber tops that can be resealed. (Don has suffered through drinking 8 bottles of beer so I can have the bottles. Neither of us care for beer) But I have found a friend who says he will drink the beer and give me the bottles. 4 bottles cost $12. but they are reusable so that is a plus. If I start to make a lot of different types of vinegar I may take him up on the offer. He would enjoy the beer and his wife would enjoy using some of the vinegars.
I am also making dipping sauces for chicken nuggets and pork back ribs. This is what I call a concoction because there is really no recipe. It started as a failure but turned out really good tasting.
Use any fruit you like that can be cooked down and mashed.
We like rhubarb, peaches, apples, pears nectarines and plums.
Put these into a large pot with a thick bottom so they don’t scorch as they have to cook for quite a while to get rid of a lot of the juice.
When it is fairly dry take it off the heat and add a package of strawberry or any flavour of jello. Just the powder stir it in and put this through the food processor to make it smooth. You could also use a stick blender or stand blender. Make it really smooth or leave chunks as you like it. Put it into small canning jars and seal. Place in a hot water bath for 15 min.
No sugar is necessary unless you have a real sweet tooth and the rhubarb is too tart.
Also no need to peel the fruit as it goes into the blender and dissolves.
In another post I will give you suggestions on what to do with your bounty if it is too much for your family to use.