Picklemania

Hubby was busy on the weekend cleaning up the garden.  He found a small treasure trove of cucumbers.  We haven’t had any frost yet, so there they were, soaking up the sun, undisturbed and stealthily growing.  We certainly like fresh cucumbers, but it seemed appropriate to pickle the last of the harvest.  A quick and easy method is refrigerator pickles.  The riffs on this theme seem endless, so I closed my eyes and picked one–fridge dills.  I sliced the cucs, prepped the jars, added lots of fresh dill sprigs and cloves of garlic to the jars, stuffed them with the slices of cuc and then poured boiling hot brine into the jars.  Pretty simple.

Fridge Dills

8 cups water

4 cups white vinegar

1 cup course pickling salt

1/4 cup sugar

12 – 14 smallish to medium cucumbers, ideally pickling variety, but any kind will do in a pinch

4-5 cloves of garlic per jar

3-4 sprigs of fresh dill per jar

In a large pot, heat the water, vinegar, salt and sugar together until salt is dissolved and liquid has come to the boiling point.  Meanwhile, wash four or five quart-size jars and lids.  (The beauty of fridge pickles is that the jars really don’t need to be sterilized, just clean.) Wash and slice cucumbers (or cut into spears).   Peel garlic cloves and separate dill into sprigs.  Divide garlic and dill into jars.  Pack jars with the cucumbers slices, then carefully pour the boiling brine into each jar, filling almost to the rim (the hot brine will cool and contract to the perfect level).  Put lids on the jars (they will be very hot touch!).  Once the jars have cooled to room temperature, store in refrigerator.  You can eat them within 24 hours, but if you wait a week or so, the taste will develop more fully.

Farm Memories – Saskatoon Rhubarb Jam

When I was a kid growing up on the family farm, the fence line we shared with the neighbors contained a goodly number of saskatoon trees.  My creative and inventive Mom concocted this recipe to use an abundance of rhubarb and saskatoon berries (two prairie staples!).  It has become my most favorite jam of all.  Now on our little city “acre”,  Don has carefully cultivated 4 berry trees, well, actually 1 tree and 3 bushes.  This didn’t seem like it would be a particularly abundant year,  but there should be enough for a another batch of jam, and we’re hoping for a couple of pies!  The blue jays that frequent our yard also enjoy the berries, although they don’t bother making jam.  Bon Appetit –  your morning toast should be so lucky to have a lick of this tasty treat!

Saskatoon Rhubarb Jam

6 cups saskatoons

6 cups rhubarb, chopped finely

1 ½ cups water

1 pkg. pectin (I use liquid Certo)

5 cups sugar

In a large pot, simmer together the rhubarb and ¾ cup of the water.  Stir often and when completely soft, mash with a potato masher.  Meanwhile, blend together the saskatoons and ¾ cup water.  Add the saskatoons to the rhubarb and cook together for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the sugar and mix well.  Turn up the heat and boil and add Certo according to the directions for jam in the Certo package.  Makes 8 – 10 small jars of jam.  Note:  Saskatoons have  a  high natural pectin content, so when you blend the berries, they will begin to gel immediately.   You will have to mash them up to get them to combine with the rhubarb.

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