Archive for the ‘Pickle’ Category

Cole slaw has the refreshing flavor of summer, but the cabbage that makes up most of cole slaw is primarily a winter vegetable here (although I do get it to keep growing all summer with careful planting placement).  On warmer winter days, cole slaw with pulled chicken barbeque feels like a summer picnic, although slaw is plenty tasty as part of a good vegetarian meal too.  The colors can be bright enough to attract the pickiest kids.  Cole slaw can also be incredibly frugal.  And the fresh veggies are really healthy–just keep the dressing light!I made this cole slaw from all-local, organic vegetables either from our own garden (the peppers via the freezer) or from Conway Locally Grown.  You can vary quantities and ingredients depending on what you have on hand, but this slaw contains

  • thinly sliced green cabbage
  • thinly sliced red cabbage
  • grated carrots
  • grated colorful radish
  • thinly sliced roasted red pepper

I find that it’s easiest to slice the cabbage thinly if I begin by cutting a wedge out of the head and then cutting off the wedge instead of the whole head.

The dressing is what really changes slaw’s flavor.  I like to make mine with leftover pickle juice.  For a frugal, delicious sweet, sour, creamy dressing, I use mayonnaise mixed with bread-and-butter pickle juice.  You could use any sweet pickle juice.  If you are serving the slaw with salmon, try using dill pickle juice.  It won’t be sweet, but it’ll be tasty.  (You may want to increase the ratio of carrots to increase sweetness.)  If you want an Asian flavor, try using pickled ginger juice.  Here’s the basic measurements I use as a foundation.  You may want to add a little more of one of the ingredients after you taste the mix.

  • 1 tablespoon real mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon pickle juice

Start light with the dressing.  You can always add more later!  Enjoy.  My husband likes to put his slaw on barbeque sandwiches.  You might like it that way too.

Copyright Ozarkhomesteader 2010.  Short excerpts with full links to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome!

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Given that Arkansas has an award-winning brewery and darn good locally produced raw-milk cheddar from cows that get to eat real grass, I thought a variation on Wisconsin’s renowned cheese soup might be in order for our Ozark croft.  The recipe is easy, and you should be able to make your own local, organic version just about anywhere in the country.  The only thing in our soup last night that wasn’t local was the celery, which was at least organic.  Note:  recent studies have indicated that much of the alcohol does not cook out in baking and other cooking.  Keep that in mind if you are planning on serving this soup to kids.  To serve to kids, increase the mashed potatoes and chicken broth, and eliminate the beer.  If you want to serve it to the guys for a Super Bowl Party, go ahead as is!

Makes about 4 cups

  • 1 cup leek, stalk portion only, cut in half, cleaned, and finely sliced (or 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped)
  • 1 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup-1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup-1 cup mashed potatoes (nothing fancy added):  less for thinner soup, more for thicker soup
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • optional:  a few dashes of soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup beer* (depending on how much you like beer)

Begin by finely slicing and dicing the vegetables, adding each to a heavy pot on low heat (I used a 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven), lightly coated with oil (and maybe a thin pat of butter), as you finish chopping each vegetable.

Saute the vegetables over low heat with the pot covered for about 10-15 minutes. Now stir in the mashed potatoes.  They’ll make the mixture look a bit disgusting, but they are there to thicken the soup, so don’t leave them out.   Next, add the chicken stock and worcestershire sauce.  Taste everything.  If it needs a bit of salt, add a few dashes of soy sauce.  Let the mixture simmer on low heat until the vegetables are soft and the soup starts to thicken, about another 10 minutes. Now add the beer, starting with the lesser amount.  Finally, as the beer stops foaming, add the cheddar cheese, a little bit at a time.  Serve with good bread, maybe a nice hearty sandwich.  (We served it with homemade pumpernickel buns with fresh mustard greens, turkey salami, and a spicy pickle spread I made as well as a Diamond Bear Paradise Porter that we split.)

Our cheese came from the Daley Dairy near Rose Bud, Arkansas.  Daley Dairy markets its raw-milk cheddar under the name Honeysuckle Lane. You can purchase it at area stores such as the Ozark Country Market in Heber Springs and Liz’s health food store in Conway.  You can also purchase it through markets similar to CSAs such as Conway Locally Grown. To be frank, a bit drier cheddar would have worked better in the soup, as this cheddar tended to clump and get a bit sticky.  Still, the flavor was amazing.

What kind of beer? We selected Diamond Bear’s Pale Ale for our soup. Diamond Bear is a Little Rock brewery that has won national awards. We like pale ales, and we especially like Diamond Bear’s. Use what you ordinarily drink, as long as you stay away from the hoppiest and most citrusy beers.  Even though we went with the Pale Ale for the soup, we chose a darker beer–Diamond Bear’s Paradise Porter–to drink with dinner.  It worked well with both the cheddar-beer soup and the pumpernickel bread.

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Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader. Short excerpts with full links are welcome.

Beans and ham, beans and cornbread, navy bean soup, ham-bone soup, Senate bean soup:  no matter what you call it, this old Southern favorite that’s not quite soup, not quite vegetable stew can include pork ham, turkey ham, or no animal flesh at all.  The beans can be pretty darn healthy, really healthy, or phenomenally healthy.    Today I’m going to give you all three variations (smidgen of red meat for a low-fat bowl, ultra low-fat bit of poultry, or fat-free vegetarian) on classic Southern beans, any of which can be prepared on the stove top or in a slow cooker.  Oh, they are soooooo good!To duplicate the Southern experience, serve these beans with cornbread (to complete your vegetarian protein), good greens (like turnip or collard), and pickles, chow-chow, or tobasco.  My ancestors made these beans on the top of a wood stove or in a kitchen fire in a big cast iron pot in colder months.  They might have cooked them all day, slowly, on a March or April day after they’d polished off an Easter country ham and just had the bone left.  They might have gathered wild greens, or perhaps they had greens growing in their kitchen garden.  Regardless, these beans with cornbread and greens made great healthy, frugal cuisine then, just as they do today.  They are a classic case of “meat and three,” where any meat included is a seasoning, not the main focus of the dish, and they are a great choice for today’s environmentally and economically conscious culture.

makes about 7 cups

the vegetables:

  • ½ large yellow onion (a full cup diced, give or take a bit)
  • 1 cup  to 1 ½ cups (split) carrots, diced
  • 1 cup to 1 ½ cups (split) celery, diced

the dried beans:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried navy beans (the classic!), pinto beans (more like chili), black beans (think southwest), or another bean like Jacob’s cattle or Anasazi (I used navy beans, black beans, and Anasazi!)

the liquid:

  • 5 -6 ½ cups water, vegetable broth, chicken stock, or turkey stock (or 1/2 smoked turkey stock*, half water)

Use the larger amount for Anasazi beans, the lesser for most other dried beans.  (Anasazi beans need 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans, whereas other beans of similar size need 3 cups of water for every one cup of beans.  We’re adding ½ cup more liquid to make the beans a little brothier.)

optional animal products:

  • 1 ham bone
  • 2-3 slices pork bacon, diced, rendered, and drained of fat (save it!)
  • ¼ cup turkey ham steak, diced

Stove top method:

Measure, sort through for pebbles, and rinse the beans—something you should do with all dried beans.  Soak the beans overnight or at least all day in a very heavy-bottomed stockpot or a cast iron Dutch oven.  This recipe may be a bit too big for a 2-quart Dutch oven, but you could start with just a portion of the liquid and add the rest as the beans absorb it. You’ll need to cover the beans by at least double or possibly even triple the depth of water.  (You could easily start soaking the beans in the morning and then cook them in the late afternoon.)  Drain off  the soaking liquid and add the cooking liquid (water, stock), onions, half of the carrots and celery, and any animal product you are adding.  Simmer beans, covered, for 1 ½ to 2 hours (less for Anasazi, more for black, the full two hours for navy).  Stir occasionally, but if you’ve picked a suitably heavy pot, you shouldn’t have to worry much about sticking.  After the initial cooking time, add the rest of the carrots and celery and cook the beans for ½ hour to 1 hour to finish softening them.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Method

Measure, sort through for pebbles, and rinse the beans—something you should do with all dried beans.  Add the beans, the chopped onion, half of the carrots and celery, all of the optional animal flesh and/or bone, and all of the liquid to a slow cooker (known often by the trade-marked name Crock Pot).  Put on the lid and set the slow cooker to low.  Let the beans cook all day.  An hour or so before supper (depending on the type of beans—more time for navy beans, less for black and Anasazi–and your slow cooker), add the rest of the carrots and celery and crank the slow cooker to high for about an hour to finish cooking the beans.  What if you come home and the beans are already soft?  You could turn off the beans, saute the carrots and celery, add them to the beans, and then turn on the cooker right before dinner to reheat it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In order to get the best nutrition from these beans, serve them with whole-grain cornbread (recipe to follow in a future blog post) to make a complete protein (something you can get by mixing whole grains with beans).  Add gently cooked seasonal greens, like mustard greens, turnip greens, or collard greens—or you could even just make a side salad of healthy baby greens.  Serve with cucumber pickles like bread-and-butter or chow-chow (pickled vegetables).  Some people add pickle juice or tobasco hot sauce to the beans and greens.

*Smoked turkey stock. Did you smoke a turkey this year or get one as a gift?  Did you toss the carcass?  Don’t do that again!  For a great smoky stock, cover the smoked-turkey carcass with water, add aromatics (a stalk of celery, some onion chunks, herbs), and simmer for about two hours.  Strain off the bones, vegetables, and herbs then cool the stock.  Skim off the opaque fat that forms at the top.  Use your stock in soups and beans.  I recommend using it for no more than half of the liquid in a recipe, since it is quite strong.

Do you have questions about cooking with dried beans, Southern food, or vegetarian options?  I’ll do my best to answer them!

I’ve posted a traditional, hearty cornbread recipe.  It is all corn meal and minimally sweet, like people used to eat before every bread came to taste like dessert.

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I enjoy sharing gifts from our garden for the holidays.  I always make lots of extra jars of pickles and, when we have a good apple harvest, apple butter.  I share our garden bounty as hostess gifts for holiday parties. At this point in the year, though, with summer veggie season over, if you didn’t can pickles, you really can’t start now.  Store-bought cucumbers now will be the wrong variety for pickling, plus they’re coated with wax, which will keep the pickling brine from penetrating, no matter how hard you try to scrub it off.  Instead, look to apples and peppers for gifts from the garden.

If you had a big apple harvest, you can still make apple butter.  Apple butter is a luscious version of apple sauce, full of spices and cooked down into a decadent caramel flavor.  Let me know if you’re interested in a recipe.

If you did well with hot peppers and froze or dried some successfully, you can still make pepper jelly,  Pepper jelly is absolutely wonderful served on crackers or toast with cream cheese.  You control the heat by your choice and quantity of peppers. I make mine with cranberry juice, so it’s got a ruby-jewel color that’s perfect for the holidays.  I’ll be happy to share a recipe.  Just ask!

What gifts from the garden do you give?  Chow-chow?  Strawberry jam?  Pie filling?  Do tell!

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I’ll be posting more pickle recipes in 2010.  Come back to visit in July and August!

In just 3 days, Sunday through Tuesday, I picked 16 pounds of cucumbers from my garden.  Then I picked 7 more pounds from Friday through today (Sunday again). DSCN1957 It all started when I went out of town last week and neglected to tell my husband that he needed to be picking cucumbers.  Some had gotten pretty big by the time I went through on Sunday.  I made 7 pints of dill relish:  mmmmmmm.  I saved some of the smaller cucumbers and then made sure I stayed on top of picking for a few days.  Voila!  Perfectly sized dills–7 quarts, to be precise.  My next cucumbers are destined to be sweet relish (for the big ones I missed) and bread-and-butter pickles, for the medium-sized ones.

Home canning is easy and inexpensive, as long as you focus on canning things you’ll actually like eating.  I like pickles, so I grow cucumbers.  Having tried a lot of different varieties like “homemade pickles,” “little tyke,” and “pickalot,” over the years, I have to say that this year’s crop of “endeavor” has been the best ever.  I suspect it may be a combination of good rain and variety.  You just can’t beat a Kirby like “endeavor” for the traditional warty look.  The overwhelming majority of my more-than twenty pounds of  cucumbers I’ve picked this week are “endeavor,” from a single seed packet I purchased from Renee’s Garden:  http://www.reneesgarden.com/seeds/packpg/veg/cucumber-endeavor.htm Yep, from a single $2.69 seed packet plus shipping, I’ve already picked in the vicinity of 25 pounds of cucumbers in just a few weeks.

I’ll leave relish for a future posting.  Here I want to talk about how easy making dill pickles can be.  Start by gathering your equipment:

canner or other very large stockpot

glass jars that will accept canning lids

Note:  mayonnaise jars work well and are free–after you buy and eat the mayo!  Since we are using the boiling water method, not pressure canning, any sturdy jars will do.  Use only real Mason jars, though, in pressure canners.

new canning lids, with rubber softened in hot but not boiling water.

Do not use old lids.  They’ll fail to seal, and you’ll waste money.

canning screw rims



dill seed


canning salt

Begin by washing your jars well.  When you think you’ve washed them well, wash them again.  Do you think I’m kidding?  My neighbor delivered what appeared to be a beautiful jar of home-canned pears last fall.  A month later, I noticed a green glob growing inside the jar.  She had definitely not followed good hygiene. Now put your well-washed jars, open side up, in your well-washed canner or stockpot, with about an inch of water in the bottom.  Turn on the heat, put on the lid, and let the jars steam to clean them some more.

Now wash your cucumbers really well.  I recommend giving them a quick rinse and then plopping them in a clean sink full of water, so you can scrub them one by one.  You’ll be amazed at how much dirt comes off!  Then rinse again.  Now trim off a tiny slice at both the stem and blossom ends.

Coarsely chop enough garlic to have at least one big clove per pint or two per quart.

Get out your dill seed.  We’ll need a tablespoon per pint, two per quart.

In  large pot, mix together equal quantities of good-quality apple cider vinegar and water to start your brine.  You’ll need about 0.625 cups of each (water and vinegar) + 1 tablespoon canning salt per pint, or about 1 1/4 cups of each liquid plus 2 tablespoons salt per quart.  Heat up the brine to boiling.

While it heats, take your hot, sterilized jars and put them on a clean surface.  Start stuffing in your cucumbers, beginning with the largest.  If you need to quarter a few to make them fit better, feel free!  Then add in your dill seed and garlic.  Make sure you’ve left at least 3/4 inch space at the top of each jar.  Finally, pour in the hot brine, leaving a half inch of space at the top of the jar.

Wipe the jar rims clean and set on your canning lids.  Now screw on the rims.  Go back and check your screwing job again.  I can usually tighten the rims a bit more.  Finally, place the jars in the canner, cover them with at least an inch or two over the top, and turn your burner on high.  When the water starts boiling, start timing ten minutes.  When the ten minutes is up, turn off the burner and carefully lift out the jars and set them on towels or a rack to cool.  Do not disturb them, and especially don’t touch the lid!

Pop! That’s the sound you should hear for each jar you’ve canned.  That’s the lid sealing.  Be patient.  The jars that are on the edges of your cooling area will most likely seal much sooner than those on the interior.  Okay, now walk away for about 24 hours.  Then remove the screw rims and store your pickles.

Remove the rims?!?  Why? Here’s a great tip I learned from my grandmother and Alton Brown:  If the screw rim is on and your canned product goes bad, how will you know?  If the screw rim is off, the bad product will pop the lid.

Last year, we put up several dozen jars (half pint, pints, and quarts) of cucumber pickles, specifically sweet and dill relish, bread-and-butter pickles, and dill pickles.  We like pickles, so for us it’s a really good deal!

Quick tip for locavores wanting to eat falafel with tzatziki in the winter:  instead of using fresh cucumber with added dill and lemon with your yogurt, instead use well-drained dill relish or finely chopped dill cucumber.  After all, it’s still cucumber, dill, and an acid;  it’s just not lemon!

Have a question about pickling or canning?  Post here, and I’ll try to answer it!

Here are a few answers to search questions that may have led you here.

*Pickles should be processed in boiling water canners, not pressure canners.  Pressure canners are overkill.

*You need enough hot vinegar or vinegar brine to cover the cucumbers completely in the jar and leave just a little head space.

*If your lids did not seal, you have two options.  Let’s talk first about why the lids didn’t seal, so you can avoid the same problems in the future.  Two–maybe three–things could have happened.

1.  Did you make sure to wipe and wipe again the jar rims before you put on the lids?

2.  Were your lids old?  Make sure to use those that are only a year or at most two years old.

3.  Did you re-use lids?  Bad, bad, bad.  Don’t do that again!

Okay, so I now count four problems.

4.  Did you warm (but not boil) the lids in water before you put them on?

Next thing you should do is figure out what to do with your unsealed lids.  First, do give them at least 12 hours to seal.  Sealing time can vary widely based on temperatures.  If your jars are showing total sealing failure, with pickles you would probably be safe to try again with new lids, but remember that you’ll be boiling your cucumbers twice and may not like the results.  Instead, I recommend putting the poorly sealed jars in the fridge and, for pickles, using within a month.  (I’d use other home-canned products much more quickly.)

What about cloudy liquid in the pickle jars?

If the cloudy liquid appeared almost immediately, it is probably a mineral/metallic reaction.  Aluminum bowls and spoons or pots can react with the brine and cause this problem.  Using regular salt instead of canning salt can cause it too.  Hard water can also cause a cloudy reaction Neither of the three is serious.  They affect appearance not quality.

If, however, you have any questions about your process and the cloudiness developed over a longer period of time, you should consider whether the pickles are going bad.  First, make sure that you have removed the screw rims.  Bad product will usually pop the lid open eventually.  Smell the finished product.  Does it smell bad?  Don’t eat it.  Is the skin portion of the cucumber slimy?  Don’t eat it.

Should you use store-bought cucumbers to make pickles?

Generally, you should not use store-bought cucumbers for pickles.  First, most store cucumbers are not pickling cucumbers.  They are designed for fresh eating.  Second, because store-bought cucumbers take a long time to go from farm to distributor to store to your kitchen, they are generally coated with wax.  This wax will prevent the pickling mixture from penetrating.  You can try to scrub it off, but chances are you’ll still end up with an inferior product.  If you can get locally grown cucumbers from your farmer’s market, I would consider using those.  Just check the variety to make sure they are good for pickling.

For more on this question, see the “comments” section and my correspondence with Barbara in Canada.

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