Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Canning Dill Pickles

   Our family loves pickles. My children can put a jar away in a day. With all the rain we've had lately our cucumber plants are looking great and they are producing really well. Today I decided to put up our first few jars of dill pickles of the season.

This year we're growing National Pickling cucumbers like always but we are also growing a new variety, Marketmore cucumbers. These are a nice dark green cucumber that are long and slender with lots of "meat" and tiny seeds. I'll be using these and some of our larger National Pickling cucumbers for sliced pickles. I'm also growing my own dill and garlic which I used today in my pickles. My garlic could use a little more growing time but I just couldn't wait. I picked just enough to use for today's canning.

The dill pickle recipe I use is very simple and very good. Sometimes I add a hot pepper in with the cucumbers to add some "bite" to the pickles which I love. The great thing about pickling is you can add whatever you want....peppers, onions, carrots.... the possibilities are endless.

White vinegar
Canning Salt
Fresh dill (dried can be used)
Washed cucumbers
Fresh garlic

First I sterilize my jars and lids. I then get my water and vinegar started in a separate pot on the stove. I use one part vinegar to two parts water and bring them to a boil. While waiting on the jars and vinegar mixture I wash my cucumbers and slice them if I'm making sliced hamburger dills. I always cut the blossom ends off of the cucumbers so they won't be bitter. When the jars are ready I start putting my ingredients into the jar. For a pint size jar I'll add 1 teaspoon of salt, a knife end of alum, a nice sized sprig of dill and 1 toe of garlic. (Since my garlic was a little small I used a few.) You can add more or less of any of these ingredients depending on your taste. This is when you would also add a pepper, onions or whatever else you might like in your pickles. Today I kept it simple. If I'm making whole pickles I like to make them in quarts because pint jars just don't hold enough. If using quarts I double the ingredients except for the alum.

After all the jars are ready I start packing in the cucumbers tightly. Then I'll carefully pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers until they are covered. I tap the jars on the counter to get trapped air bubbles to come up then put the lids and rings on. I carefully place the jars into the pot of boiling water that was used to sterilize the jars making sure they are covered with water. They boil for 10 minutes then are carefully taken out and set out to cool before removing the rings.

There you have it....pickles! You can simply put up your own pickles very cheaply and provide your children (and yourself) with healthy homemade snacks all year long.

"...He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."      Acts 14:17

Thursday, May 9, 2013

School Day Interruptions

   As a homeschool family we have had interruptions during school time on more than one occasion. Ringing telephones, busted water lines, broken fences and run away goats. Life happens. This morning we had an interruption of the pleasant nature. One of our Nubian does decided that today was the day for her to kid. I noticed this morning at chore time that her udder was nice and full and her ligaments were soft so it wasn't a surprise when our daughter ran in from the barn to tell me that she was starting to kid. With little assistance Luminaire (Lulu) brought into the world 5N Farm's Obadiah. Better known as Obie. He's such a cutie although I do wish he was a she.

   So, this morning the three Rs were put on hold and we moved "school" out to the barn. I'm very grateful that our children get to experience "life on the farm" and learn all of the wonderful life lessons that are learned here at home. Some things can't be taught in a classroom or learned by reading a book. We're blessed to have the opportunity to teach our children at home and offer them a well rounded education.

Now...the excitement is over and it's back to the three Rs!