Vegetables

Dilly Beans and Drying Dill

DSC02203Depending on the maturity of your green beans right now, this recipe could be exactly the diversity you’re looking for with a surplus of beans… or it could be a few weeks late, as is the case with MY green beans.  Doh!

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Actually, as cute as this teepee turned out, I’ve discovered that I don’t love pole beans.  They seem a little stringier and tough than bush beans…anyone else feel that way too?  I will use the teepee next year for a different climber or perhaps even flowers, and plant bush beans.

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Anyone know the correct spelling of “teepee”?  According to Wikipedia, it can be spelled “tipi”, “tepee”, or “teepee”.  Spellchecker likes “tepee”, but I always thought it was “teepee”.

You know, once I spelled it out so many times, I don’t think any of them look right…

Anyway, fortunately for me, my in-laws planted more bush beans than the two of them could consume, and gladly handed me a large shopping back of green and wax beans!  (And I didn’t even have to pick them!!  Bonus!)  They also passed on a recipe I’ve been salivating over for a year now.  I’d never heard of “dilly beans” before I was given a taste last year, and WOW!  Mind. Blown.  They are like combining my favorite flavor – dill pickles – with my favorite vegetable – green beans.  What’s not to love?

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Nothing.  That’s what.  There’s actually a recipe for Dilled Beans (what a boring name!  Not nearly as country and cute as “dilly”!) in the Ball Book of Home Preserving.  I kind of combined Ball’s recipe with my in-law’s recipe, because Ball calls for red bell peppers, which I NEVER have at home, but also called for peppercorns, which I thought sounded like a nice addition.  I’m going to give you my combined recipe, and I’ll mention substitutions as we go along.

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Dilly Beans Makes 4 pint jars

What you will need: 

  • 2lbs green and/or wax beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (Here Ball calls for 2 small red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, divided
  • 4-8 sprigs of fresh dill* (see notes below)
  • 12 whole peppercorns, optional

Directions:

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.  Combine salt, vinegar, and water in stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt.  You can trim the beans to “jar-length” or into “grocery store style frozen cut green beans-length” like I did.  Personal preference trumps aesthetics!

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Place 3 peppercorns, 1 or 2 sprigs of dill (or 3…), cayenne (or one strip of red pepper), and one clove of garlic in each hot jar.  I wussed out on the cayenne here and only used a “smidgen”.  Seriously.  My measuring spoon says “smidgen”.  Isn’t it cute?

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Pack beans into jars to within a 1/2 inch headspace.

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Ladle hot brine into jars to cover beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace if necessary.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar, tighten ring with normal pressure.  Do not over-tighten.  Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.   Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

A few notes:

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*Dill sprigs are the smaller “flower” of the entire dill head.  You can use scissors to cut the sprigs from the head.

I never seem to have enough brine, no matter how much the recipe calls for.  I went ahead and tripled this recipe because I had more like 5lbs of beans, but couldn’t fit all the pints into my canner.  So I simply refrigerated the last jar of dilly beans.  This worked, but give them a week to really pickle correctly!  I kept trying them every day, and by about 7 days the two remaining beans were nice and pickly flavored!  Ha!  I do think the flavor is best canned, though.

Drying Dill:

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If you were lucky to be given several giant heads of dill from your parent’s garden like I was, hang them up to dry!  Once the seeds are dry, you can harvest them and store them in a jar for future recipes!  I just store mine in an old “dill seed” spice jar because it’s already labeled, and it fits on my lazy susan.  So far I haven’t had an issues with molding, although if you store them before they are completely dried, that may happen.  In the above picture you can see the difference between a head of “completely dried” dill, and one that still needs a week or so.  In the meantime, it makes me look all productive and stuff with the dill hanging there, doesn’t it?  Ha ha!

For easier printing:

  • 2lbs green and/or wax beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (Or 2 small red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, divided
  • 4-8 sprigs of fresh dill*
  • 12 whole peppercorns, optional

Directions:

  1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids
  2. Combine salt, vinegar, and water in stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt.
  3. Place 3 peppercorns, 1 or 2 sprigs of dill, cayenne (or one strip of red pepper), and one clove of garlic in each hot jar.  Pack beans into jars to within a 1/2 inch headspace.  Ladle hot brine into jars to cover beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace if necessary.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar, tighten ring with normal pressure.  Do not over-tighten.
  4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.   Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

One more thing… great taste buds think alike, apparently!  Just yesterday, as I was working on this post, my favorite sister-in-law, Erin, posted this Japanese green bean stir fry recipe!  It looks DELICIOUS, and I think I’m going to go pick some beans this weekend at my mother-and-father-in-law’s garden just to try it!

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Categories: Canning, Dehydrating, Pickles, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A Very Lengthy Tour of My Garden

DSC01182(First of all, don’t those clouds look like something from The Simpsons? HA!)

My garden is mostly planted and I am just so pleased with it!  Last year, I tried Square Foot Gardening for the first time and loved it.  I learned a few valuable lessons regarding over-crowding last year, and I think I made the right adjustments this year.  This is the straight-on view of my entire garden.  On the very left up against the fence is a new addition, an asparagus patch!

DSC01185Nothing to see yet, really.  Asparagus takes three years before you can harvest it, and then it grows prolifically as a perennial, apparently.  I’ve  never had asparagus straight out of a garden before, so that will be a real treat!

DSC01183Right next to the asparagus patch is something else that is new to my garden and my experience:  Raspberry bushes!  I planted two red bushes and one golden, just for funsies.  I doubt I’ll get a harvest this year, but hopefully next year?  I’ve never grown raspberries before, so I’m really not sure when I can expect to harvest.  I know my girls are going to be all over them, though!  They are berry-crazy!  (Ha ha)

DSC01184It’s alive!  The other two bushes just look like expensive sticks that some crazy person planted, but this one actually has a few leaves!  (Doesn’t take much to excite me…)

DSC01181Behind the raspberry bushes is a raised bed.  Last year I grew pickles, basil, beets, cilantro and two kinds of heirloom tomatoes in this bed.  They all did fairly well here, so I didn’t change much.  I planted basil, cilantro and cucumbers this year.  I have room for more, but haven’t decided what to put there yet.  I will probably put cherry tomatoes in there once my seedlings are ready for transplant.  I decided not to grow beets this year, even though they were lots of fun, because I pickled and canned them up, and no one ever ate them.  I also decided not to grow pickles, because it was too frustrating to me that there was never a batch ready at the same time for pickling.  This year I’m just going to order pickles, and that way I’ll get all my pickling done at once.

I took these pictures the same day that I took the chicken pictures, as is evident by Dagny’s outfit.  See my big helper?  (There used to be basil seeds in that square…I’m guessing that they aren’t there anymore…)

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I did start my basil this year from direct-sow seed.  I’ve never done that (successfully) with basil, so it wasn’t too surprising to me that most of them didn’t come up.  I ended up buying a healthy-looking plant just to guarantee I would get some basil this year.

DSC01187It looks like at least one seed worked, though!  This is definitely not a weed!  Exciting!

DSC01188I also started cilantro from seed, and there are three seedlings that sprouted!  Aren’t they so cute?  I will probably still buy a larger plant though, because it’s getting to be salsa season and I need cilantro, dang it!  On a related note, you probably already knew this, but I’m still a beginner in the gardening world and this was new information to me.  Did you know that coriander is actually the seeds from cilantro?  I’ll definitely be learning more about harvesting coriander once my cilantro goes to seed later this year and posting about it.  Interesting, isn’t it?

DSC01199The next raised bed, which was all corn last year, now is my lettuce bed.  I decided not to grow corn because I tried it three years in a row, and although I did finally get good corn last year, I just decided it’s cheap enough in season that I don’t need to waste space worrying over it.  So this year I planted Romaine, spinach and arugula, just like last year.  I still want to plant kale, as well, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I might have missed the window… not sure.

DSC01200It is my opinion that arugula is the EASIEST vegetable to grow.  It is as talented as a weed and nearly as invasive!  Last year I used my arugula in my Italian Wedding Soup and also made arugula pecan pesto.  It was delicious, and I kicked myself all pesto-less winter for not making more! In fact, I went through a lazy streak in the crucial week before the arugula went to seed and didn’t preserve it at all!  (For shame!  Boo!  Hiss!)  I was definitely regretting that over the winter, because arugula isn’t something that shows up in my grocery stores.

DSC01201Spinach is so cute as a baby.  Aww, wook at da widdle spinach weaves! So sweet!  (I may need help.)

DSC01202Romaine is cute too!  The wood chips are about the size of my thumbnail, just for scale comparison.  Aren’t those leaves tiny?  Someday they are going to be crunchy chunks of deliciousness drenched in Caesar dressing.  Sniff.  They grow up so fast!

DSC01190In front of the lettuce box are the snap peas.  I’m not exactly proud of this contraption.  There are probably 10 different ways to encourage these climbers that are snazzier and more efficient.  But I’m saving my landscaping budget for more important things and this was made with things I already had.  Plus it’s WAY better than my original design, which involved a collapsible drying rack and was far more embarrassing.

DSC01192I think this will work.  This is the most promising batch of snap peas I’ve grown yet.  The first year I planted them too late and only got ONE pea.  The second year my garden was consumed by weeds and I was too scared to enter it.  Last year I foolishly planted the peas behind the tomatoes, which were foolishly planted behind the cucumber, which were foolishly planted to receive ALL the sun.  The tomatoes and cucumbers were amazing, the most amazing crop I’d ever grown.  But the peas?  Oh the peas.  Nary a one was able to even see the sun, and they were quickly completely consumed by the larger plants.  This year looks to finally provide me with all the peas I can consume!  Once the plants are happily climbing, I’m also going to interplant this box with red, Yukon, and sweet potatoes.  (This was the potato box last year.)

DSC01193I am, however, REALLY proud of this!  I saw this on Pinterest and had to do it.  These are just bamboo poles tied together so that pole green beans can grow up it.

DSC01194(Isn’t this a cool picture?)

As a little girl, I was always infatuated with fairies and tiny forts.  I would have loved something like this as a little girl – a “secret” hide-out in the garden where the fairies were sure to be spotted.

DSC01195My oldest girl was named Cosette, after a character in one of my favorite musicals.  (Name that show!) We nicknamed her “Cozy”, which completely epitomizes her personality.  She is a lot like me in the way that she loves to create forts and is more than happy to hunt for fairies in tiny spaces.  My plan is to try to train the beans up the poles in a weaving fashion, so that the fort will be completely covered.  If any grow higher than the 6-ft poles I will try to encourage them to hang over the “door”, to complete the entrance to the hide-out.  I’ve never grown pole beans before, so I’m not totally sure what to expect.

DSC01196This is the first year for pumpkins for us, too.  I tried to grow them my second year of gardening, but the weeds and the heat wave won that battle.  My plan is to just let the vines go across the right side of the yard.  Can you see the seedling in there?  It only took like 3 days to sprout like that!  It totally shocked me.  (I shock easily too, apparently) I’m not planning on leaving the tomato cage over it, I’m just a little distrusting of my chickens, so I’m leaving the cage there until the vines can fend for themselves.

DSC01206Likewise, on the back fence, is the watermelon.  I haven’t grown that successfully yet, either.

DSC01205I planted this the same day as the pumpkin, and look how wussy the seedling looks compared to the pumpkin!  It took longer to sprout, too.  I’m going to let these vines take over the back of the yard, too.  I tried to grow watermelon up that chain-link fence last year.  It did work, and I did get one melon – that I prematurely harvested because it was about to frost, anyway – but I have a big enough yard that it doesn’t really matter.  The back end of the yard is only used for compost and my husband will be grateful to not have to mow it anyway.

DSC01203The long back bed that was Romas and arugula last year now is the strawberry bed.  I planted both Ever-bearing and June-bearing berries.  The chickens have destroyed two of the June-bearing plants.  I’m not really sure what the method to their madness is… why only two?  Why both June-bearing?  It’s a puzzle.  I put a tomato cage in one end, hoping it would creep them out enough to stay out.

DSC01210This isn’t in my garden.  It’s actually on the back of my house.  This is from last year’s pitiful strawberry efforts.  (News flash, strawberries like FULL sun, duh!)  I was happy to see two plants return.  It kind of vindicated my salty feelings from last year.

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This is the view from the right side of the garden.  Stage left, for you theater majors out there.  The box closest to the camera is mostly empty still.  I have two banana pepper plants given to me by my generous in-laws.   They also gave me a jalapeno plant, but the chickens had their way with it.  More tomato cages to the rescue!  The rest of the box is going to be filled with beefsteak, Roma and cherry tomatoes.  I bought all the seeds for these, but only started the seeds a few weeks ago.  The seedlings are only about 4 inches tall, and I’m not sure that is far enough along.  I might just buy plants to get in the ground now, and plant the seedlings I started later when they are stronger.  That way if they don’t produce until late fall it won’t be a big deal and I will have already been able to can up some tomato products.

You can see that I have two big helpers, staying busy digging in the dirt for Mama!

Behind the chain-link fence to the right, on the other side of the strawberry patch I planted sunflowers.  I had started the seeds in decomposing pots and then planted the pots after the seedlings were about an inch tall.  I then took some practical precautions and protected their row with chicken wire.  A day later, the seedlings were all gone.  In some of the pots there was even a broken sunflower shell, just sitting on top of the dirt, mocking me.  Crafty birds.

So I replanted the seeds, but I don’t have much hope for their survival.

DSC01209The last thing I planted this year was a blueberry bush.  I planted it by itself in a very empty space where a tiny propane tank used to live behind our house.  It also just looks like a stick in the ground, but hopefully next year or in a few years we’ll have fresh blueberries!

I still have a few things to get in the ground, including a blackberry bush.  I’m not sure where I’m going to put that yet, though.

If you have any tips for some of the things that are new to me (berry bushes, asparagus, pole beans, sunflowers) I would greatly appreciate it!

Categories: Gardening, Journal, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yet Another Plug for Kale Chips. Worth It!

kalechips

Check me out!  I made one of those fancy pictures-with-words button thingies!  It took way longer than it needed to, but I couldn’t decide on the font I wanted to use, and then I REALLY couldn’t decide on the COLOR of the font I wanted to use.  I’m still not super content with it, but eventually you just have to say to yourself, “Chelsea, it’s a picture.  Going on a blog.  You have children who want lunch.”

My new camera took this shot!  Cool, huh?  I'm still amazed by some of the stuff this thing can do all on it's own!

My new camera took this shot! Cool, huh? I’m still amazed by some of the stuff this thing can do all on it’s own!

Anyway, I know, I know.  KALE.  Sigh.  It’s all the rage.  Everyone is talking about it.  I’m supposed to rise above the commonplace recipes of the world and post about canning salmon and other interesting things that people aren’t going to find all over Pinterest.  But darn it, kale is good!  And this is totally relevant because I’m using my dehydrator instead of an oven like everyone else…  heh heh!

Actually, the first 10 times I made kale chips (which, by the way, is the only way I’ve ever eaten kale…) I used my oven.  I followed a few suggestions I found online at various degrees of temperature for various amounts of time.  The results were always the same:  One third of the chips were still soggy, one third were burned to a crisp, and the remaining third was edible and addicting.  So finally my husband actually suggested the dehydrator to me!

Folk, we have a winner!  THIS is the best way to make kale chips.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, it’s time to invest in one.  Go on craigslist and get a used one.  You’ll use it for lots of things, but for now you’ll be running it all week making kale chips!  These are just as good as everyone says they are – unlike the crunchy chickpea scam!  (Anyone else disillusioned by those?)

Dehydrated Kale Chips

What you will need:

There’s lots of variations to make these, but the best that I’ve found is salt & vinegar.  You can use regular vinegar, cider vinegar, or leftover sherry vinegar from your preserved garlic experiment!

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Vinegar
  • 1 tsp fine salt or 2 tsp coarse salt

Directions:

Tear leaves away from stems, wash and pat dry with paper towels.  In a gallon-sized resealable bag, add kale, oil , vinegar and half the salt.  Press air out of the bag, and massage the liquids into the leaves.  No need to be gentle!  These leaves are tough!

Tear leaves away from stems, wash and pat dry with paper towels. In a gallon-sized resealable bag, add kale, oil , vinegar and half the salt. Press air out of the bag, and massage the liquids into the leaves. No need to be gentle! These leaves are tough!

Spread the kale onto two trays, sprinkle with remaining salt.

Spread the kale onto two trays, sprinkle with remaining salt. Set dehydrator to Fruits/Vegetables (135*F), turn on.

After about an hour, they should be done!  They should be perfectly crispy, no sogginess at all.  Enjoy!

After about an hour, they should be done! They should be perfectly crispy, no sogginess at all. Enjoy!

And here's the top picture without the text mussing up our view.

And here’s the top picture without the text mussing up our view.

Categories: Dehydrating, Vegetables | Tags: , , , ,

Dried Minced Onions

I’m not really an “onion person”.  I mean, I’ll eat them if they’re cooked in butter and nicely concealed in whatever dish they’re a part of, or if they’re deep fried or of the bloomin’ variety… ok, maybe I am an onion person after all!  I just don’t really care to eat them raw.  I’m not a huge fan of cutting them up, either.  But onions do add a little somethin’ somethin’ to most dishes, and so they remain a staple in my kitchen.

Recently, I happened upon a recipe on Pinterest that sparked my interest.  Remember when I made the condensed cream of chicken soup?  Well it’s good and all, and fairly easy to make, but anything frozen that has to be thawed isn’t really all that convenient for this meal-planning procrastinator.  And then the Heavens opened, a ray of light shone down on my computer screen, and angels began to sing!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  An easier way!  (Is any this blasphemous?  Forgive me, Lord…I only meant to spread chuckles!)

What I’m saying is, I’m all over this idea.  Cream of “Something” soup MIX, that you can keep in your pantry and substitute canned condensed versions when called for in recipes.  It’s too cool.  WAY cooler than this post about dried onions. 🙂

I digress.  Anyway, this super cool Cream of Something mix called for dried minced onions.  I had no dried minced onions, but I did have a big bag of non-dried, non-minced, actual onions.  The synapses fired in my brain and I recalled a dehydrator that I own (well, technically I don’t OWN it, but since the owner seems to have forgotten it’s existence…), put two and two together and the rest is history.  Herstory.  Mystory.

I’ve had a lot of coffee today.

 
Dried Minced Onions

What you will need:

  • About 8 medium onions, yellow or white
  • a Dehydrator (you could do this in your oven if your oven will go low enough, 135 degrees)
  • a Food Processor
  • Goggles, face mask, contact lenses, a strong fan, willpower to live
  • some unfinished hobbies or small children to busy yourself with while these are drying

Directions:

  1. Peel onions and slice them into 1/4 inch slices.  This where the goggles et. al. would come in handy.  My kitchen got so unbearable with onion fumes that even my poor husband who was innocently trying to do dishes teared up.  It was bad.  We had to get a fan out, and I was practically sobbing by the time I finished slicing.
  2. Place the slices on the dehydrator trays and turn it on the fruit and vegetable setting, 135*!  You don’t need to separate the rings, unless you have the space to do so.  They might dry quicker if you separate them.
  3. I had to move the dehydrator from the kitchen out to the back porch because of how much it was stinking up the house!  After several hours the back porch started smelling like a burger joint, so that was kind of fun, but initially the fumes were just too strong to bear inside the house. 
  4. The dehydrating book says 8-10 hours for onions.  Well, after 10 hours I wanted to go to bed, and only a pieces were even close to being done.  I removed those pieces, turned the dehydrator down to the lowest setting (95*) and went to bed.  In the morning, they were in the same state as the night before.  So I turned it back up to 135* (fruits and vegetable setting), separated the rings, piling them on top of each other, and it still took about another 10 hours for them to be completely dried.  Phew!
  5. As pieces dried, I removed them from the dehydrator and set them in a bowl to wait for the others.  Once they were all dried, I broke out my food processor and chopped them up.

    When I minced these, it left a huge ridge in my food processor that completely freaked me out! I thought the onions had somehow scratched the bowl of my processor and I was so bummed out! Turns out it was just onion powder that caked up quickly on the sides. A little soaking in hot water; it washed out perfectly clean and all was good in my world again.

  6. After I minced the onions some of the pieces felt a little moist so I poured out the minced pieces on a fruit leather tray and returned the onions to the dehydrator for another half an hour. 
  7. Once they seemed completely dry, I put them in a jar, labeled it with the date and contents, and it’s ready to store or use in a recipe!  It yielded me about a half of a pint jar, so about 1 cup out of the 8 onions.  That was kind of disappointing.  (In the picture below I had already used some of the onions in the cream of something soup mix, which is why there is only 1/4 of the jar left!)

Cream of “Something” Soup! The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of whatever flavor bouillon granules you prefer (hence the “something”). I don’t like to use bouillon granules because I’m a “Better Than Bouillon” girl, (and that stuff has to be refrigerated) so I omitted that part and will use a teaspoon of BTB when I’m mixing it all up.

The Verdict

I paid about $1.50 for a cheap-o bottle of dried minced onions from Wal-mart.  I paid about $3.00 for a bag of organic onions, also from Wal-mart.  The whole bag of onions amounted to about double the bottle of dried onions, which means besides the organic factor, I didn’t really save much money by drying the onions myself.  So, counting the time it took to dry them (30+ hours…hello, electric bill!), the tears I spent slicing the onions, and the fact that I really didn’t save any money…  I highly doubt I will be making these again.  I will say that the flavor of MY dried onions is better, and they smell like French’s Fried Onions (but do NOT taste like them!  Bummer!) but I’m still a little unimpressed with this project.  I have better things to do with my time, like finish projects, or play with my kids, or eat bloomin’ onions. 😉

If you try this, let me know what YOU think!

Categories: Dehydrating, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Preserved Garlic: Delicious Meets Healthy…Maybe

Why preserve garlic? 

Garlic is one of Nature’s most helpful foods.  Besides warding off pesky vampires, it’s also renowned for preventing and treating colds, the flu, and cold sores.  I found this quote very interesting, although I admit I did not follow up on the source to see if it’s true or not.  This source seems to back that up, though.

“Modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic, albeit broad-spectrum rather than targeted. The bacteria in the body do not appear to evolve resistance to the garlic as they do to many modern pharmaceutical antibiotics. This means that its positive health benefits can continue over time rather than helping to breed antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’.” (Source)

At any rate, there is some speculation that garlic loses some of it’s antibiotic qualities once cooked.  It does not, however, lose any of it’s delicious, delicious flavor.

And isn’t that what eating should be about?  Flavor?  Enjoyment?  What a treat it is to find a food that is all a food should be.  Flavor.  Enjoyment.  Nutritious.  Guilt-free.

Well you aren’t gonna find the latter here, because we are about to smother the former three adjectives in sugar, oil and alcohol.  Guilt, you can come pop a squat right next to this cellulite!

Preserved Garlic (Because it might be good for you…  )

What you will need: (Makes 4 half-pints)

  • 2lbs whole garlic, about 5 cups
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • pressure canner

Directions:

The first thing you need to do is peel the garlic, if you were a big enough sucker to buy whole garlic instead a jar of pre-peeled cloves.  *Ahem*  Let me just tell you that if you have never peeled 2 lbs of garlic by hand on a sweaty afternoon with two small children begging for attention, you just haven’t lived.  I can however, offer some tips on how to “quickly” peel garlic.  There’s three ways:

  1. Watch this video.  It’s some kind of magic trick.  I couldn’t get it to work, but I think it’s because I’m not a 250-lb super strong man.  I also don’t have two large bowls the same size.
  2. Cut off the large end of each clove, then rock the flat edge of a chef knife over the clove and the skin should fall off fairly easily.  Be careful with your pressure though.  It’s okay if the clove gets a little smashed, but you want the clove to remain as intact as possible.
  3. Soak the cloves in water for at least 1 minute, then peel.  This is the method I used, and it took me about 2 hrs to peel 2lbs.  (Now you know why I put quotes around the “quickly” up there.) I did take several breaks though to address my children.

I eventually got an assembly line of sorts going on: Separate the cloves, Soak the cloves, Cut off the ends, Peel, Admire.

I got this recipe from this blog, and while most people would be grateful enough just for the amazing recipe, I am also eternally grateful for this different, much easier way to sterilize/keep the jars hot.  I struggled to sterilize them on the stove because my back large burner doesn’t work, and the pot is too large to place over a small burner.

Anyway, here’s how you do it:  Turn your oven to 220 degrees.  Place 5 half-pint jars (it’s always good to prepare an extra jar just in case) in a pan or on a baking sheet and place in oven until ready to use.  (He also said you can sterilize the lids in the oven, but I chose to heat them in simmering water on the stove.)

*****UPDATED****** I don’t do this anymore.  I got a new large burner for my stove, and now I just heat the jars in the canner while I’m preparing recipes.  You can use the stove method, but it’s not recommended in the Ball Book of Home Preserving because ovens have inconsistent temperatures and there is a chance that the varying temperatures can cause breakage when you go from the oven to the hot water.  (I never lost a jar doing that, though.  So whatever.)

Meanwhile, prepare pressure canner with 3 inches of water.  Heat over medium heat.

Now for the garlic:  In a large saute pan, heat the oil then cook the peeled cloves over medium heat.  Add the salt.

Beginning to brown…

Once the cloves begin to brown, after about 10 minutes, add the sugar and cook 3-5 more minutes or until they begin to caramelize.

Sugar added, caramelizing…

Add the sherry vinegar and turn the heat up to medium-high.  Cook for about 2 minutes.

Adding the sherry vinegar…

Remove jars from oven and fill with cloves and sauce, leaving a 1- inch headspace.

I used 2 half-pints, and 3 jelly jars (process all for 10 minutes)

I added a little extra oil and sherry vinegar (a few drops of each) to each jar so that the garlic was almost covered.  Wipe rims with a vinegar-soaked paper towel, add lids and rims, tighten, and place jars in canner.

Allow canner to vent 10 minutes, then set to 10lbs pressure.  Once pressure is achieved, cook 10 minutes for half-pints, 20 minutes for pints.  Allow canner to return pressure to 0lbs, then remove vent and lid.  Wait 10 minutes, then remove jars to a towel on the counter and let cool completely.

Okay, I confess:  I didn’t wait for them to cool completely.  We had company over for dinner that night and I was in the mood for some serious compliments.  I served these over perfectly grilled steaks (grilled by my grill-master hubby) with a glass of full-bodied red wine and smiled nonchalantly at each exclamation of delight.

This is why you preserve garlic.  Because they so good that when you are sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night for a snack, you eyeball the jar of them and seriously consider choosing preserved garlic over M&M’s.

And because they might be good for you 😉

Categories: Canning, Low-Acid, Vegetables | Tags: , , , ,

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