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Old 08-22-2017, 12:12 PM   #1
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Bounty from the Garden

Peaches are ripe, strawberries have been picked, watermelon is coming into season. With all this abundance, how do we use this bounty? We Put-By. An old fashioned term meaning we can, freeze, dehydrate and otherwise prepare for the coming winter, it is time to use our skills to make things that will sustain us for the months ahead. Born and raised on a farm, it was many years before I learned that what was sold in the markets could not live up to what was prepared at home.

Take for example strawberry jam. That season ended last month. Those of us that are lucky enough were able to get into the fields and pick berries still damp with dew. By afternoon, those were hulled, crushed and processed into jam. The deep red jars are now labeled and line the shelves in the pantry or cellar. And now it is peach season. Soon, that basket of plump round fruit that is ripening on the back porch will join its' sister jars of strawberries. Mine are not for eating, but for gift giving. Many new neighbors get welcomed with a jar of jam and a warm loaf of bread. I've made a lot of new friends that way and gotten some surprising gifts in return. But that's another story.

In another day and age, we would be coming into the season of putting beef in the freezer. Dehydrating was one way of preserving some of it. My dad would enjoy that beef jerky while out hunting for deer or for a snack in mid day. It has remained a favorite with my son, so I make sure to put some by for him. It makes a great snack for someone on a low carb diet, also.

There is so much out there that needs picking and taking care of right now. Corn gets blanched, cut off the cob and put into the freezer. Modern techniques have us vacuum packing the kernels now rather than putting them in plastic boxes. Root vegetables are stored in bushel baskets. Tomatoes are cooked down and jarred as spaghetti sauce, salsa, or tomato juice. Dad used to pull up the whole tomato plant of the cherry tomatoes just before the first frost. He hung them by the roots in the cellar, and as they ripened, we would pick and eat them, tasting just as fresh as if we had just picked them still hot from the sun.

Right now, it is the cucumbers that are almost overwhelming, and there is nothing better than home made pickles. I would like to share with you a recipe from my Polish mother-in-law. It is simple, requires no water bath, and the results are scrumptious.

Bread and Butter Pickles

1 quart thin sliced cukes – do not peel
3 onions – thin sliced
Salt the above with about 3 Tb of regular salt (canning salt will also do if you have it on hand) Let it stand in a colander. A liquid will seep out of the vegetables, so best to just let it sit in the sink. Drain and wash them, getting the salt out of the slices.

In a large kettle, combine:
1 ˝ cups sugar
1 cup white vinegar
˝ cup water
1 Tsp celery seed
1 Tsp mustard seed
˝ Tsp turmeric
2 diced red sweet peppers (optional)

Combine the cukes and onions with the vinegar solution. Heat all together, bringing it to a boiling point, but DO NOT BOIL. Stir frequently until you see that it is starting to come up to heat. Pack into hot sterilized jars while hot and seal tightly at once. They are ready to eat when cool.

Note: If planning on eating these in the near future, they will keep well in the refrigerator and it is not necessary to put them into sterilized jars. Canning jars are easily sterilized by boiling while covered with water but try them out first. This is a small batch. I routinely double/triple a number of veggies. This recipe should make a healthy quart of pickles.

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Old 08-22-2017, 03:52 PM   #2
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Thank You Margot - copied and pasted.

interested in your beef jerky. If you'd be willing to share?
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Old 08-23-2017, 05:14 AM   #3
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Beef Jerky

There are so many ingredients that you can use for beef jerky. I developed my recipe after years of trying. I do use a dehydrator, but it can be done in a low and slow oven.

4 Tb Worcestershire Sauce
4 Tb Soy Sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground peppper
1/2 tsp salt

3 pounds sirloin steak or meat of your choosing

Slice steak into 1/4 inch slices. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Dredge the steak slices in the liquid and place into dehydrator in a snug but single layer. Dry for about 18 hours or until barely bendable.

Note: this is a basic recipe. It is not spicy. For 'heat' increase the pepper or add some ground red pepper or other spices of your choosing. We all have one secret ingredient. Mine is the soy sauce. I buy mine at a Chinese store and it is Mushroom Flavored soy from Indian River. It is denser than regular soy. Also, for ease of preparation, I ask the butcher to slice the beef at the market. It is not necessary to marinate the beef, just cover all surfaces with the liquid. This recipe can handle up to 5 pounds of beef, but I like 3 to make sure it is all covered well. Dredging in small batches is suggested to get the coverage.
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Old 08-23-2017, 06:22 AM   #4
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Thank you again Margot. Copied and pasted!
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Old 08-25-2017, 11:40 AM   #5
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Thats my jerky recipe Except I don't measure. Minus the pepper.
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Old 08-27-2017, 06:34 PM   #6
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Canning and Freezing

The first two batches of strawberry jam are cooled and shelved now. Canning season has officially begun.
I'm having a hard time finding appropriate watermelon for making the rind into the pickle. This seedless variety, although wonderful to eat, do not have a thick enough rind to make the correct size. I am trying one tonight. The rind is set in brine overnight and tomorrow the house will smell amazing once those spices get into the act. I just hope the size does not matter.
A half bushel of cucumbers wait on the counter and by mid week, the shelf will have several pints of bread and butter pickles.
Peaches soon. A trip to the orchard coming up.
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:12 PM   #7
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I had to look up where you are. Strawberry season for us is in May, so canning season has been going on for months

I've made several batches of watermelon rind pickles this summer with seedless watermelons. They've turned out great. They're really delicious with pulled pork
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:08 PM   #8
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Oh great! I was afraid that the rind would be too close to the peel and might be bitter. This helps me greatly. Our canning season starts at the end of June when the strawberries come in, then nothing much but cold weather vegetables and I don't do much with them. It starts in earnest about late August as corn and beans come in. We are at the height of produce season now.
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