Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Love this Crock!

 I <3 this crock!!!  

It has been such a busy few weeks in the garden.  Harvest has really kicked in, a full month early, and it keeps coming.  Interestingly, the bounty does seem to be staging itself, with lots of  beans, squash and cucumbers the last couple of weeks, and tomatoes just coming.  Last year we had tomatoes and cukes at the same time. Though we had some amazing Greek salads, it was too much all at once. 

I emailed our farm basket recipients today that this will be an off week.  We need to do a little preservation catch up here at the homestead.  We raced home today at lunch after dropping Sid at Girl Scout camp.  In a phenomenal husband/wife assembly line, we blanched another 8 quarts of green beans and put up our first real brined dill's in the amazing crock above!  (did I mention we did this with the 50 minutes that remained of our lunch break from work??)

I haven't posted as often about the daily harvest stuff on the homestead.  If you'd like to see how we're doing, check out the Back to the Garden link above :)

I love the crock I picked up last week.  Here's the recipe, if you're looking for some good Old-Fashioned Brined Dill Pickles:

20 lbs. pickling cucumbers, 3-6 inches long
3/4 cup whole mixed pickling spice 
2-3 bunches fresh dill
2 1/2 C. Vinegar
1 3/4 C. Salt
2 1/2 Gallons Water

Cover cucumbers with cold water and wash thoroughly but gently.  Remove blossom ends.  Place 1/2 of pickling spice (we found that one spice jar was about 1/2 cup) and a layer of dill in a 5 gallon crock or glass container.  Fill the crock with cucumbers to within no more than 5 inches of the top.  Place a layer of dill and the remaining pickling spice on the top of the Cucumbers.

Mix vinegar, salt and water and pour over the cucumbers.  Cover the cucumbers with a heavy plate that fits inside the crock.  Place a weight on the plate to keep the cucumbers submerged and completely covered by the brine (we used a mason jar, filled with water as the weight). Cover the crock loosely with a clean cloth.  Keep the pickles at room temperature, ideally at 68-75 degrees.  In about 3-5 days, scum will start to form on the brine.  Remove it daily with a metal spoon.
Do not stir pickles.  Always keep them completely submerged in brine.  Add more brine as necessary, following the original proportions of vinegar to salt to water. 

After 3 weeks of fermentation, the dills will be ready to put up in jars.  At this point, the brine may be cloudy due to the development of yeast during the fermentation period.  Strain the brine, or make a fresh brine of 1/3 cup salt and 4 cups vinegar to 1 gallon water.  The strained brine makes a better pickle because its flavors have blended with the cucumbers and dill.  Bring the brine to a boil.  Pack the pickles, along with some of the dill from the crock, into clean, hot quart jars (boil jars for 3 minutes prior to filling).  Do not pack too tightly.  Cover the pickles with hot brine, leaving 1/2 inch headspace; seal.  Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  If you'd like a garlic flavor, you can add a clove to each jar when you process.

*This recipe adapted from www.thatsmyhome.com

Yields 9-10 quarts.

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