Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Canning Time, Grandchildren, and Crisp Dill Pickles

This week is a canning-and-grandkids week! We've got some fun things planned to do with the kids but at the same time the gardens are giving us a lot of work to do in the canning department. So to get ahead of the curve a little on Monday, I worked on tomatoes, pickles and grapes and ended up with 10 quarts of tomatoes, 20 pints of dill pickles and 10 of concord grape jelly.

Tuesday was shopping day and pick-up-the-kids day. We're looking forward to a few days with Clayton and Grace, and Haley and Jared who live close by will also be around a lot while the other two are here because Grace and Clayton live about 200 miles away and we don't get to see them too often. I like the way the cousins make an effort to be together--they stay close even with miles separating them.

We started today with a big country breakfast, late since the kids were up til the wee hours catching up with each other. While they slept in, I spent some quiet morning time weeding my gardens and dead-heading, trying to get things looking more presentable now that the extreme heat and dryness have abated for a bit.

We didn't really get started on anything until after lunch. Then granddaughters Haley and Grace helped make about a bushel of grapes into jelly. Cleaning the grapes before processing gave us some nice time on the porch to talk as we worked.

Then Haley had to leave for cross-country training so Grace and I carried on. Grace is now well grounded in making jelly, and I think she cold probably handle making a batch on her own. Bless her heart, she stayed right with it, until all the juice was used up and the last jar filled.We made 8 pints of Niagara Jelly from the white grapes and 12 more pints of Concord.

While we worked in the kitchen, Larry and grandsons Jared and Clayton dug on the footer for the new log room and took care of a few other outside chores.

There is nothing that makes work more fun than doing it with a houseful of grandchildren. Our grandchildren are mostly in their teens now and they're even more fun than they were when they were younger, if that's possible. Now they have opinions, are aware of what's happening in the news and the economy, have all kinds of interests and talents and are becoming fascinating people.

 The canning piles up on the old wood cookstove until there's no room for more, then it's moved to the root cellar. I am running out of pint jars already, and the elderberries are just turning. Reckon I'll be buying a few boxes of jars this year to finish out the season.

The dill pickles are a real hit again this year. I can hardly can them as fast as they get eaten. Here's my recipe: for crispy dill pickles:

Small pickling cucumbers
Non-iodized salt

Slice cucumbers into rounds or into spears. Sprinkle with salt, mix the salt in, and cover with ice cubes. Place a plastic trash bag or plastic sheet over the ice cubes, and then lay a folded bath towel over the plastic (the plastic keeps the towel from getting wet). Let stand at least 3 hours.

Drain off the cucumbers, rinse to remove the salt. Drain again.

Sterilize jars and lids. Place a sprig of dill (to your taste) in each jar. Fill each jar with slices or spears.

Put vinegar, salt and water in a large pot. Add one clove of garlic for each jar you plan to fill. Ratio of vinegar to water is two cups of vinegar to one cup of water and 1/3 cup of salt. Adjust the amount to the amount of cucumbers you have to pickle. For a large washpan full of slices, it takes 8 cups of vinegar, 4 cups of water and makes about 12-15 pints of pickles.

Heat the vinegar, salt, water and garlic until boiling. When it boils, remove the garlic (I save it in a plastic baggie in the refrigerator and use it for three batches before discarding it). Pour the liquid over the cucumbers in the jars until each is filled to 1/2" from the top of the jar. Put on the lids and tighten. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath or follow recommended procedures for pickling.

The longer these sit, the better the flavor.

Tomorrow's agenda includes a trip to see mummies, a lunatic asylum and who knows what else?


Country Whispers said...

That's wonderful that you have the kids all there to help. sounds like you may be heading to the Philippi and Weston area??
Enjoy your trip and the time with your grandkids.

A Vintage Green said...

Very nice, very lucky too, grandchildren to love.

Angel said...

Sounds like a wonderful time. Thanks for the recipie. Will definetly have to try it when I get some cucumbers. :)

Mama-Bug said...

I bet it's been great having the grands there and working with you. Those pickles sound so good, I'll have to give this recipe a try as soon as I can find some cucumbers.

Granny Sue said...

We're having a very good time. No road trip today, though---the kids slept in too late for us to go and return in time for Haley's cross-country practice. So we'll go tomorrow.

Mama-bug and Angela, I hope you get to try the pickles. They're so easy! and delicious.

Twisted Fencepost said...

I was planning to make pickles this year, but my cucumber harvest did not hold up it's side of the bargain. LOL
I have copied your recipe and I will try it as soon as my cucumbers get with the program.

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