Pickling, Preserving, Pies, & Pesto

The NY Times recently featured an article on canning and preserving food. Although many believe that home-canning died out in the 19th century, it’s actually a pretty great way to enjoy produce all year round. The article got me thinking about my own experiments with making jam and pickles.

Cucumbers (look for the small, pickling variety) are coming in to season  so it’s a great time of year to prepare homemade pickles. I don’t remember exactly what technique I used, but I think I followed instructions from a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. After thoroughly washing mason jars in hot, soapy water, I set them aside to dry. Meanwhile I cut the cucumbers into quarters lengthwise. On the stove I prepared water, white vinegar, and pickling salt according to directions. I divided the pickles spears amongst the jars and added the hot vinegar mixture. After sealing the jars, I processed them for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. I allowed the jars to cool overnight and develop a seal. Then I placed them in the fridge. The pickles were a bit strong, but otherwise tasty!

Preparing to Pickle

Homemade pickes

Last June, I was inspired by Molly Wizenberg’s column in Bon Appetit. Her description of preserving summer’s tastiest fruits had my mouth watering. Even better: Molly’s recipe doesn’t require powdered pectin – just fruit, sugar, water, and lemon juice!

My strawberry jam was full of fresh fruit chunks! Perfect with almond butter on toast :-)

Strawberry jamDo you recognize this photo? It’s part of the header for The Runner’s Kitchen! My lattice top cherry pie may not be perfect, but I think it looks pleasantly rustic. And it tasted great! Most cherry pies call for cherry pie filling, but I think that has too much sugar. Instead, I recommend using fresh tart cherries (if you can get ’em!) or use fresh bing cherries and add some lemon juice. Tart cherries are most oftenly used in cherry pies, but their growing season is short and are mostly grown in Michigan. Sweet cherries are a fine substitute – just make sure to reduce the sugar and/or add lemon juice to create the correct balance of flavors.

Cherry Pie

Another yummy project I made last summer was this pesto potato salad. I used purple fingerling potatoes from the Farmer’s Market, halved cherry tomatoes, blanched green beans, and homemade basil-almond pesto. It was delish – I ate it for lunch 5 days in a row :-) My apologies for the blurry photo….this pic was taken before I started blogging!

Pesto-Potato-Snap Pea Salad

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6 Responses

  1. I really love homemade dill pickles, so good! I’ll have to keep my eye out for the pickling cucumbers. One thing we’ve done in the past is just get regular cucumbers at the farmer’s market and make the quick, refrigerator pickles. Those are really good too!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever had homemade dill pickles (canned green beans are fantastic though), but that sounds wonderful and EASY! I might have to do that. Thanks for the post!

  3. That pie looks FANTASTIC!!! I’ve been so obsessed with cherries lately!

    Have a great day :-)

  4. I love this post! I’ve been so inspired to do my own canning (trying to at least TRY all things Martha-esque!) but am still scared of it. You pushed me over the edge!

  5. You make canning and pickling look so easy– and cheap! I think I will definitely have to try out making dill pickles and maybe some homemade jam this summer. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Hey Megs,

    Keep an eye out for Real Pickles next time your at whole foods or other places like that. They are made by friends of mine in Western Mass. Here’s their website: http://www.realpickles.com/index.html (there’s a list of stores in NY that sell their stuff on the website)

    They make dill pickles and other pickled products with a natural fermentation process (no vinegar). The dill pickles sometimes come out soft, but I think they are delicious.

    Maybe I’ll make my own sometime and take some photos (don’t know when I’ll be home enough to do that though)…

    :)

    Jesse

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