Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mixed Pickles, and other experiments

Mixed baby vegetable pickles

One problem with making pickles, for me, is that sometimes I don't have enough of one vegetable to do a whole canner load of, say, pickled okra. I like to harvest okra when it's really small and tender for pickles, so I don't get a whole lot of it in one day. If I tried to accumulate several days' worth for one batch of pickles, the okra from the first day's harvest would be turning brown, even if kept in the refrigerator. With okra, freshness is all.

Also, I like to put tiny baby squash in pickle jars, and again, I don't get a lot of them on any one day.

The solution presented itself the other day: a recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for Pick-A-Vegetable Dill Pickles. With this recipe, you can use cucumbers, beans, squash, carrots, or asparagus. You brine the vegetables in salt water for a couple of hours, and then you simmer then briefly in a seasoned vinegar brine before packing them in the jars.

I reasoned that you could use a mixture of vegetables, too. And I decided that okra must be ok in the mix. The result was a pretty jar of baby vegetables: beans, squash, okra, and cherry tomatoes. (One thing I've found about okra pickles, in particular, is that at first the product floats in the brine, and it doesn't look right. But eventually the okra settles down into the bottom of the jar.)

For my next experiment, I used some wide-mouth pint jars that I found at Walmart. These are great jars: easy to pack in the case of pickles. I harvested different shades of sweet banana peppers and cured them in a brine overnight, then packed them in these nice jars and poured a vinegar brine over them. There's some garlic and peppercorns packed in there too.

Finally, I had a lot of 'Suyo Long' cucumbers, a very easy to grow variety that gets over 12" long. These cucumbers can't be canned whole, obviously. So I made a dill relish with them. The problem is, I don't eat hot dogs very often. I guess I can find some people that do, though. Or maybe I will eat hot dogs more often. Is dill relish good on other things? Probably.

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