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Archive for September, 2008


Dilly beans are pickled green beans. They’re a great way to preserve an abundance of summer beans. Plus don’t they look wonderful and slightly mysterious in their can? If put up properly, they’ll last for months, maintaining their crisp texture.

Their tart flavor and crunchiness are a great addition to any salad. You can add them to sandwiches, or eat them on their own. Some people serve them in martinis and Bloody Marys. Can them with garlic and dill, and spice them up with pepper and/or Tabasco.

This recipe is from Blue Ribbon Preserves, one of my favorite canning books. It contains a great basic how-to section on canning. Also included are recipes for every kind of fruit and vegetable.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds of straight, young tender green beans
2 1/2 cups distilled water
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt or pickling salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 3-inch sprigs of fresh dill
12 whole black peppercorns

Gently rinse the beans 3 or 4 times in cool, clear water to remove any sand or dirt. Change the water between each rinsing. Drain well.

Cut off the stem end of the beans and trim the blossom end, cutting just below the base of the tail. Measure the beans to four inches in length and cut off the excess on the stem end.

Place the beans in an 8-quart pan and cover them with boiling water. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain. Immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl or pan of ice water for two minutes to stop the cooking process. Remove the beans from the ice water and drain well. Set aside.

Combine the distilled water, wine vinegar, white vinegar, and salt. Stir well to combine. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and keep hot until needed.

Lay hot pint jars on their sides. Place one garlic clove along the inside bottom edge of each jar. Arrange one sprig of dill, stem side down, against the inside of each jar next to the garlic clove. Add three peppercorns to each jar. Pack the beans snugly into the jars, with the stem ends at the bottom. Stand the jars upright.

Ladle the hot liquid into the jars, covering the beans and leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Using a bubble freer or plastic knife, remove any air bubbles. If necessary, add more liquid to maintain the headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process pint jars in a 180 to 185F water bath for 30 minutes.

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It’s that time of year when a productive garden can get overwhelming. But the thought of opening a jar of flavorful tomato sauce in the middle of winter can provide inspiration. Whether you can or freeze this sauce, it will be a delight in January when grocery store tomatoes taste like, well, not much at all.

Nearly every product in this sauce comes from my sister’s garden: tomatoes, green pepper, garlic, basil and jalapeno. The onions (OK, and salt and pepper) are the sole ingredients that came from the grocery store. We literally filled a laundry basket full of tomatoes and peppers from the garden in one morning’s harvest (see photo below).

Ingredients:

12 tomatoes, blanched and peeled
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped fine
2 green peppers
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 medium onions, chopped
Several leaves basil

I’m rather finicky about tomatoes: I don’t like to see skin or seeds floating in my sauce. So I remove them. If you’re less picky you can skip this step. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Have a bowl filled with iced water to one side. Cut a small cross in the bottom of each tomato, about 1/2-inch each way. Blanch each tomato for 30 seconds, then shock it in the cold water. Peel off the skin of each tomato.

In a large saucepan or stockpot, saute onions until translucent, approximately five minutes. Chop green peppers and jalapenos into small chunks. Chop garlic fine. Add garlic, peppers and jalapenos. Let cook for five minutes, then add tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can cook this sauce for a long amount of time, or just enough to heat the ingredients through and let the flavors combine a bit. It’s up to you. The sauce will be thicker if it’s cooked a long time, and the flavors will have blended together more. A shorter cooking time will really retain the fresh tomato taste.

Just before removing from heat, add basil. Remove from heat. Can or store in refrigerator/freezer containers. Makes 2 quarts.

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