Sunday, April 7, 2013

I'm In A Pickle.....And Loving It!

Homemade Sweet and Spicy Gherkins
I started bottling sweet and spicy gherkins in 2007, and it has been something that I have looked forward to every year since then.  We had quite a number of gherkins from the garden this year, so today I spent a good part of the day in my last step by step processing for the gherkins.  I have about 5 or 6 bottles now and that will do us well for the winter.  We won't be seeing any more gherkins from the garden until next summer now,but it has been great fun bottling them.  I have a recipe for bottling them which I found on the Internet several years back and it has seved us well.  I thought I would re-post the details from 2007 for those of you who will soon be in summer.  We are in autumn presently here in New Zealand.  So if you love sweet and spicy gherkins, get your garden plots ready to plant your gherkins.  The recipe for bottling them is very straightforward and you will be surprised how easy it is if you have never canned in your life.  Anyway here is my post again fro 2007 below.
Enjoy your Sweet and Spicies!
Three months or so ago, while visiting with my wonderful In-Laws, my husband's father was kind enough to give us a nice bag full of gherkins from his lavish garden. My antennas went up and all that I could envision was making some Sweet Gherkin Pickles from our prized gift. The only thing was.... that although I have been in plenty of pickles of my own in my life....I had never made any for eating. Now I must admit I am a great lover of recipes from the Internet, many of which have become household favorites. So off to the computer I fled to find a recipe for making my pickles. I came across the following recipe from a wonderful website called Recipe Source and did not have to look any further as it appeared that this recipe presented itself as being very straightforward, and in fact the pickles were extremely easy to make, and no fuss. I guess it must have been in April or May that I had made them, but decided to let them soak in all the lovely juices for a couple of months before tempting to try them. Well today was the day for the unveiling. I was so pleased with the outcome that I just had to share this recipe today. The pickles were crisp and crunchy and ever so sweet with a very spicy flavoring. The pickling spices certainly do the trick and this is one recipe that I will be making again and again. Have a go with it if you enjoy pickles.....very straightforward and luscious to boot!

Note: This recipe can be found at the Recipe Source.Com website below and is adapted for MasterCook.

For more information about the MasterCook Software visit the link above.
Recipe Source.Com
Serving Size : 6


7 lbs Cucumbers (1-1/2 inch or less)
1/2 c Canning or pickling salt
8 c Sugar
6 c Vinegar (5 percent)
3/4 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Celery seeds
2 tsp Whole mixed pickling spice
2 Cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp Fennel (optional)
2 tsp Vanilla (optional)

Yield: 6 to 7 pints


Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard, but leave 1/4-inch of stem attached.
Place cucumbers in large container and cover with boiling water.
Six to 8 hours later, and on the second day, drain and cover with 6 quarts of fresh boiling water containing 1/4-cup salt.
On the third day, drain and prick cucumbers with a table fork.
Combine and bring to boil 3 cups vinegar, 3 cups sugar, turmeric, and spices. Pour over cucumbers.
Six to 8 hours later, drain and save the pickling syrup. Add another 2 cups each of sugar and vinegar and reheat to boil. Pour over pickles. On the fourth day, drain and save syrup. Add another 2 cups sugar and 1 cup vinegar. Heat to boiling and pour over pickles. Drain and save pickling syrup 6 to 8 hours later. Add 1 cup sugar and 2 tsp vanilla and heat to boiling. Fill sterile pint jars, with pickles and cover with hot syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. For more information on sterilizing jars see “Jars and Lids”. Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations in Table 1, or use the low-temperature pasteurization treatment.
(For more information see “Low-Temperature Pasteurization Treatment”.)
Table 1. Recommended process time for Sweet Gherkin Pickles in a boiling-water canner. Style of Pack: Raw. Jar Size: Pints. Process Time at Altitudes of 0 - 1,000 ft: 5 min. 1,001 - 6,000 ft: 10 min. Above 6,000 ft: 15 min.
This recipe can also be found at Recipe Source.Com right HERE.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Granny Smith Working Overtime

Hello Food Lovers
I have been try to organize my time more carefully so I can get back into Blogging regularly as it has been a while.
I live in New Zealand and Autumn is just around the corner here for us, which is a reminder that our apple trees will be reaping some rewards for us.  Each year I enjoy canning 'Apple Butter' which I make from the apples on our trees.  Actually Apple Butter does not have any butter in it, just so you know, in case your have never made it or eaten it before.  One of the reasons it is called Apple Butter because when it is all processed and ready to be put in canning bottles the Apple Butter is smooth and creamy just like butter.  It is amazingly good and tastes just wonderful on bread or toast as a spread and also is great on crackers with a slice of brie or camembert, or just by itself on the crackers.  Next to canning sweet and spicy gherkins I enjoy making the Apple Butter the most.  If you have not tried itm you are really missing out on somethng sensational.  Granny Smith apples make the best Apple Butter of all in my humble opinion, but you can use Royal Gala or even wild apples.
Approximately 6 years ago I shared the recipe for it on my Food Blog that I always use, however I have two or three techniques but the following one I love the best. Be warned though, that this is not something that can be made in 5 minutes.  It is a step by step process but it is worth every single minute and I know you will be pleasantly surprised for all of you that have never tried it.  The key though I feel is to plan to make several large jars of it so you will always have plenty on hand until the next apple season.  You can just keep the sealed jars on a shelf in your cupboard, but once you open a jar of it to use, be sure to refrigerate it.  Keep in mind also that it can last months in the refrigerator once it has been opened. 
I thought I would post the full recipe once again for newcomers to my Food Blog.
I hope you will enjoy this delightful recipe for canning Apple Butter.
Enjoy the recipe, and I would love to know how your apple butter turns out!


4 lbs of good cooking apples (we use Granny Smith or Gravenstein)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups water Sugar (about 4 cups, see cooking instructions)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Equipment Needed
1 wide 8-quart pan (Stainless steel or copper with stainless steel lining)
A food mill or a chinois sieve
A large (8 cup) measuring cup pourer
6-8 8-ounce canning jars
Preparing the Fruit
1.  Cut the apples into quarters, without peeling or coring them (much of the pectin is in the cores and flavor in the peels), cut out damaged parts.

First Stage of Cooking
2. Put them into large pot, add the vinegar and water, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Measure out the purée and add the sugar and spices3 Ladle apple mixture into a chinois sieve (or foodmill) and using a pestle force pulp from the chinois into a large bowl below. Measure resulting puree. Add 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of apple pulp. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add a dash of salt, and the cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, lemon rind and juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

The above is a chinois sieve

 The above is a food mill
You can use either for this canning recipe

Second Stage of Cooking
4. Cook uncovered in a large, wide, thick-bottomed pot on medium low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Scrape the bottom of the pot while you stir to make sure a crust is not forming at the bottom. Cook until thick and smooth when a bit is spooned onto a cold plate and allowed to cool (1 to 2 hours). You can also cook the purée on low heat, stirring only occasionally, but this will take much longer as stirring encourages evaporation. (Note the wider the pan the better, as there is more surface for evaporation.)

5. There are several ways to sterilize your jars for canning. You can run them through a short cycle on your dishwasher. You can place them in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don't touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Or you can rinse out the jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.

6. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal. If you plan to store the apple butter un-refrigerated, make sure to follow proper canning procedures. Before applying the lids, sterilize the lids by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids. I use a hot water bath for 10 minutes to ensure a good seal.
As an alternative to stove cooking the puree you can cook uncovered in a microwave, on medium heat to simmer, for around 30 minutes.

Makes a little more than 3 pint jars.  You can adjust the recipe to make larger quantities.  I usually use large jars, and several of them for storing.

A Lovely Recipe Using Your Homemade Apple Butter

Baked Prosciutto and Brie with Apple Butter Recipe
Courtesy Tyler Florence
Show: Food 911 Episode: Texas Tea Party
1 loaf crusty French bread
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup apple butter
16 thin slices prosciutto
about 1/4 pound 2 pears or apples, thinly sliced
1 pound Brie, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Cut 16 (1/2-inch thick) slices out of the loaf. Butter each side of the slices and put them onto a baking sheet. Spread 1 tablespoon of apple butter onto each slice. Top this with 1 slice of prosciutto and 3 or 4 slices of pear or apple. Cover this with the Brie slices, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Hugs From Patricia


Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy New Year Friends

Avocado Crème Brûlée
I am putting this on the top of my list for my next taste test.  I love Avocados and pretty much just use them in guacamole dip only, but I will always be the first to try something new.  I found this recipe at Project Foodie recently and was delighted to add it to my Favorite Food Blogs.  I hope some of you will try it like to buy my avocados!
It has been such a long...very long time since I have posted, but one thing for certain is that I am so happy I did not delete my Blog pages all together, as I am about to start blogging again. I had some very serious health issues over the past couple of years which eventually resulted in a spinal fusion this past August. My recovery was relatively a slow one and one with too many restrictions. I was unable to sit comfortably for more than a few minutes at a time and spent many a day flat on my back staring at the ceiling. I am still in physiotherapy which will still go on for many more weeks. Soon I will be starting hydro therapy in our hospital's physio pool and I am looking forward to that for sure.
So much has happened since 2010 but I would like to begin afresh and it is good to be be back with everyone. Little by little I will be revamping my Blog as I think some new changes are evident, but for tonight I am just getting my feet wet once again and I will be into full swing soon. I see that there have been a huge number of people reading my existing Blog over the past two years....even in my absence and I truly thank you for that, and it is one of the main reasons I have to start blogging once again. I have missed it so much and I will endeavor to make my posts enjoyable and interesting.
In the something special for yourself!
Hugs From Patricia In New Zealand