Speaking of canning in the cooler months, before I start talking about the May challenge, I want to do a quick recap of what I've done so far this year:
January - For the January 'Marmalade' challenge, I stayed traditional and made orange marmalade! Not only was this the first time I made marmalade, this also is the month I discovered Pomona's Pectin, which has been awesome because this pectin rocks for those of us who are low-sugar gals (and guys.) Since I made the marmalade, we have enjoyed it on toast and bagels and hope to try it soon on some chicken. I currently have four lonely, tired oranges in my fridge and am trying to resist the temptation to make some more marmalade.
|This is Bill. He's mentioned later.|
March - In March, we had a dual challenge of 'Shrubs and Jellies.' I had never heard of a shrub and had to Google it before the challenge. I ended up making raspberry/rhubarb shrub and while it seems to have some detoxifying qualities, I really can't say I love the it. I actually don't really like it at all. Maybe I'm not mixing it right or maybe it's an acquired taste, but almost all of what I made is sitting in the back part of the bottom shelf of our fridge. We did however mix it with some BBQ sauce and basted on some smoked chicken, so I suppose that is how we will use it. For the other part of this challenge, I made confetti pepper jelly (again with less sugar thanks to Pomona's Pectin) and for the first few weeks after it was done, I ate it on everything. Now that I'm typing this, I am reminded that I need to open a new jar. My favorite use of this was as the spicy sauce part of a Cuban sandwich. This, we will be making again.
April - In April, the challenge was 'Quick Pickles.' I made a medley of peppers, onion, radishes and carrots and we ate almost all of it within two weeks. I like the idea of throwing some random leftover veggies from the fridge in some vinegar brine and having 'pickles' that are pretty darn good. We hate throwing food away, so I will be using the 'quick pickle' idea more this summer when we tend to end up with more vegetables from the garden than we can eat but not quite enough of anything to can. Also in April I tried a small jar of pickled ginger. This was a no. I don't even like pickled ginger from actual good restaurants that serve it, but my husband does ... and he didn't think this was very good. The good news was that it was made with ginger that was on its last leg in the fridge anyway, so tossing it out wasn't a big disappointment.
This now brings us to May! The May challenge is "Cold Pack Canning." This is something that I normally do quite a bit of in a regular season. We make dill pickles, halved pears, halved peaches - all cold packed and hot water bathed. We make green beans, potatoes, beets - all cold packed and pressure canned. Since nothing is in season from our garden yet, nor is any fruit in season yet in Minnesota, I wanted to do something small because I didn't want to just skip a month in the challenge. So - I went to Marisa's website in search of an idea, and there it was - Spicy Pickled Green Beans. These are something that neither my husband or I have ever tried, and I've wanted to try them every summer since I started canning a few years ago. However, when you have 10-15 pounds green beans sitting in front of you on the counter from the garden and you don't know if you even like them, you end up just pressure canning them regular to eat (because if you didn't know, there is absolutely nothing better than fresh garden beans that have been pressure canned. We could eat them cold out of the jar.)
Anyway - this was a great opportunity for me to go to the store, buy a small amount of green beans, and give this Spicy Pickled Green Beans business a shot!
|I love this vegetable strainer.|
|Seriously. Hot. Pepper Flakes.|
And please people, make sure your garlic isn't grown in China. No offense to China intended, but please Google it if you aren't sure why. We buy ours from a local Minnesota gal who does organic gardening, and I don't buy it from anywhere else. I buy a bunch from her in the summer and toss the whole bulbs in the freezer, and we have delicious garlic all year. She also makes amazing homemade soap, among other things. Check her out on Facebook if you'd like, she's Gramma's Kitchen and Farmer's Market.
|Before their hot bath.|
Once I finally got enough boiling water in my water bath canner (which took 3 tries because I am NOT used to canning only three jars of something, and less jars = more water needed), they processed for 15 minutes (because of the larger pint-and-a-half jars I used) and they were done.
Did I mention they are HOT? With the next batch I make, I will remember to leave some without the hot pepper so I can share. In the meantime, we are going to eat and enjoy these!