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What are you pickling?

Rather than derail the Gardening! thread, I thought I’d add a new topic here for all things pickles and preserves. (Since it’s not exactly right for the beer/wine/fermentation thread, either.)

I don’t know how may of you have this same “problem,” but I have a decently-sized garden that produces more vegetables than my family can possible eat fresh. Plus some local markets with fine local produce that gets astonishingly cheap the closer in quantity you get to a bushel. (A bushel, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a volume of produce that will invariably make your shoulders and back regret not parking much, much closer to the market stalls.) So what’s a person to do?

Pack glass jars into the canner. Set up some pickling crocks. Fire up the dehydrator. Fill the freezer. Of course. What fine ideas do you have for pickling and preserving all that good stuff?

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It’s like an endless preserving process around here, with prime peach season starting and tomatoes coming in quantity soon. The most recent addition to the pantry shelves? Apricot jam:

apricot%20jam

Apricots, sugar, lemon juice. Their season’s short, and they can be finicky here in Pennsylvania, so making jam’s a priority when they show up at the market. We might see fresh ones for two, maybe three weeks, and then they’re gone for another year. Except for these seven little jars, sparkling in the pantry. They’re floral and intense, and I have to ration them throughout the year or my kids’ll devour the whole stash in a month’s time.

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I have some garlic on the go at the moment, in princesses’ brine (a mix of salt, water and vinegar). My pickled ginger gets a bit fervent after the first few years.

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More of a short term thing, but my wife made some awesome pink pickled onions to go with slow cooked pork shoulder.

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I made a great cranberry and red onion relish a couple of years ago

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I want that with a generous addition of jalapeno peppers.

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Funny enough I just made strawberry jam yesterday. The season passed quick. Tho I forgot to prep a pint. I normally do halves and 1 or 2 pints sized. So I have a lot in the “freeze or eat sooner” tupperware.
@COMaestro said just get him some bread and he will take one for the team.
We have apples which I will probably make apple butter.
I need to find my ball canning book, there is a recipe for plum sauce that’s pretty tasty, and our plum cherries/cherry plums (?) grew enough to make. Last year just a few.
We’ve been in our house a bit over a year but still newer to taking advantage of growing stuff.

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If you can’t find it when you need it, send me a message. I have mine handy and can send any recipes your way.

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@brian @superjaz Those jams look beautiful. Last fruit preserve I made was with Seville oranges in January. Stirring a big pot of simmering, sunshiny marmalade really lifts the spirits in the depths of winter.

I am a big fan of freezing, with a minimum of processing. Currants and tomatoes get bunged straight in the freezer in tubs. As does grated zucchini, for future chocolate zucchini cakes. RIght now I’m overloaded with runner beans. Freezing makes them too soft for my liking and I can only make so much chutney… I’ve just found a runner bean pesto recipe suitable for freezing, but I still need help! Any ideas would be so very welcome.

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Are your runner beans any good as a dry bean? I grew a variety a few years back that was… okay. (Painted Lady, I think.) Maybe yours are better? Probably worth saving a handful that way to check for the future. My family prefers limas and cowpeas, in addition to P. vulgaris, so they win out for garden space, even if the flowers aren’t as showy.

You could always make the runner bean version of dilly beans. When I don’t have time or space for a big crock of fermented pickles, I use a brine that can go in the canner or just dawdle in the fridge for small quantities. Scale the batch as needed, but here’s the basics:

2 cups / 475mL cider vinegar (or other at 5%)
2 cups / 475mL water
60g kosher or pickling salt
60g sugar

Fill jars with vegetables and seasonings. Bring the brine to a boil and pour to cover. If canning, 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Otherwise, refrigerate until ready to eat. They’re usually good to go in a few days.

I use that brine for cucumber pickles and both sweet and hot peppers. Works well for asparagus and small, firm zucchini. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for beans, too.

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Mine are Polestar (although I have grown Painted Lady in the past and the flowers are one of the prettiest). I’ve only ever kept the dried beans to plant the following year. I’ll try cooking a few too… And thank you for the dilly bean recipe!

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That would be great actually. I have a feeling it might be behind our ongoing garage project of “TON OF STUFF IN THE WAY”
I found this recipe online that looks similar but I can’t be certain it’s the one
Plum sauce, calls for onions too?
https://thebabblingbotanist.com/tag/ball-complete-book-of-home-preserving/

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@brian and @superjaz do you have any problems getting your jam to set? I’ve only ever made apple and ginger jam successfully, and I think that might be because apples have tons of pectin in them.

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Yes!
I use pectin and even then I feel like I need to cook longer then the recipe says to get it to set.

I don’t know if this affects but the recipes I looked up called for butter, (to reduce foam). I skip it because my oldest can’t have dairy.
He also won’t eat jam, but he humors me and tastes it once and then gags n spits. But he tries, so I put up with skimming the foam.

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More than a decade in this house, and my garage still often looks like that. Basement, too.

The plum sauce recipe looks a lot like the one I have, but I’ll type it up anyway:

Plum Sauce
Yield: about 4 pints

4 pounds plums
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tablespoons chopped green chili peppers
1 1/4- x 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cider vinegar

Wash plums; drain. Pit and chop plums. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Add chopped plums. Cook until thick and syrupy. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 20 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

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My solution is the least helpful one possible: I like a loose jam. So much that I don’t make jam with added pectin, even when the recipe calls for it. I just cook it until the sugar syrup sets to a consistency I like, then turn off the heat. If I’m tasting as I go, I try to keep my jams brighter, with a less “cooked” flavor, too.

To that end, I stick a white plate in the freezer before I start, then drop a bit of the cooking jam on it to check the consistency. I know some folks use a candy thermometer, but I’m always worried I won’t be able to read it through the foaming. I don’t use butter, either. Just skim it if necessary.

Some jams thicken up readily - blueberries, even as part of the fruit, thicken like crazy - but others, like peach and sour cherry, pretty much never do. They’re always more syrupy. Strawberry usually gets to a nice level of spreadable yet soft, and I like the texture of the tomato jam we make, though unlike the others, it cooks for a longer time (and doesn’t suffer for it).

I’m intrigued by ginger jam now. Is it apple jam flavored with fresh ginger, or something else?

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You just chuck in some fresh ginger with the apples. I sometimes add some cinnamon as well :slight_smile:

I’d never thought of putting blueberries in jam - I have a few dwarf blueberry bushes, but the level of blueberry production has not quite reached jam level yet!

(As an aside, I was under the impression that jam was called “jelly” in the US - have I been misinformed?)

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For jelly, the fruit flavor comes from juice. Jam, the fruit flavor comes from pulp or crushed fruit. So they have different textures as jelly will not have any solid bits of the fruit in it, while jam does.

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It’s the same in the UK, but you don’t tend to see (for example) strawberry jelly in the supermarket, except in the Jello sense. It is somewhat confusing that “jelly” means two different things here…

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That’s because the UK is all screwed up when it comes to the English language! Adding ‘u’ to a bunch of words that don’t need it, adding an extra ‘i’ to aluminum, and somehow having far too many interpretations for the word ‘fine’.

(Because we are so much better in the US /s)

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