Get the jars together!

Even with tomorrow as my birthday, I -still- write articles! What’s with me!? Well, let’s do this. I didn’t post last week as we were moving into our new home! As I sit here unpacking, I turn my thoughts to typical fall activities: Carving pumpkins; Stocking up candy, and canning. Yes, canning is something that is very dear to my heart. I remember sitting with my mom making big jars of pickles, jams, jellies, and such to stretch out the money. And this is JUST the time of year to do it. So, let’s get started!

The first, and most important thing, is to sterilize ALL your jars. You want to boil the jars to get them all nice and clean. Now, do NOT boil your lids, as the boiling water will ruin the seal. These can be washed with soap and water by hand. The important thing is to have everything as clean as possible because you don’t want mold or other icky stuff growing in your jars. That’s just bad, m’kay?

Now that we have clean jars, we can start with a family classic, Bread-N-Butter Pickles. I learned this recipe from my mother, and have always enjoyed these pickles over the traditional Kosher Dill variety. They have a sweeter taste, and just taste great in sandwiches or on veggie burgers! To start with, we need 4 Quarts Cucumbers cut into 1/8 in. Slices, 6 Onions Sliced Up, 2 Green Peppers Sliced Up, and 3 Garlic Cloves Minced up. Set them in a bowl, toss in 1/3 Cup Kosher Salt, and finally cover the entire mix in crushed ice for at least THREE HOURS. The mix needs to not only chill, but we need to let all the flavors meld together.

When the 3 hours is nearly up, bring the following to a boil: 3 Cups White Wine Vinegar, 5 Cups Sugar, 2 Tablespoons Turmeric, and 1 & 1/2 Teaspoons Celery Seeds. As this mix comes to a boil, drain the water off the chilled cucumbers, and pack it lightly into each of the jars. You want to leave about 1/4 of the jars empty for the brine. Once all your jars have the to-be-pickles in them, take out a canning funnel. Setting it in each jar, pour the boiled brine into each jar until the liquid comes to the bottom of the funnel. If you don’t HAVE a canning funnel, then just fill the brine up so that there is about 1/4 inch of leeway on the top of the jars. Seal the jars up, then set them in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. After their bath, dry off the jars, label & date, and set in a cool, dry place for at least 6 weeks. You should have delicious pickles for months to come!

Next I want to look at my favorite type of jelly, Apple Butter. This one takes longer to age, but the results are VERY much worth it! We want to begin by mixing the following together in a slow cooker: 10 Cups Unsweetened Applesauce, 1 Teaspoon Ground Cloves, 1 teaspoon Allspice, and 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon. Cover and cook on ‘LOW’ for 24 hours, stir, and then cook for 12 more hours with the lid off. Drain off the liquid that collects on top of your butter, and then use your jarring funnel to fill sterilized jars with the remaining mixture. Remember to fill them to the BOTTOM of the funnel, or leaving a 1/4 inch leeway if you don’t have the funnel. Date & label, and then enjoy! The apple butter will keep in the fridge for 6 to 9 months, AND it’s sugar-free! A bonus delight for diabetic friends or family!

While we’re making our own penny-pinching delights, let’s shift no something we can keep on hand for a sweet delight on toast or bagels. Yes, I’m going to teach you to make your own shmear with Honey Butter! We start with 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature & 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until creamy. Once mixed, stream in 3 Tablespoons Honey (Or more if you like your honey. Experiment to find out how sweet you want it!) into the bowl, scraping the sides to get it all nice and mixed together. Keep tasting and add honey if you wish. Once the mixture is to your liking, seal in a canning jar and keep in the fridge for up to a month. The butter costs about 29 Cents American per serving, and goes great on pancakes, bread, and other baked goods. It even makes Matzos taste good, if your branch allows putting things onto matzos.

Next week we’ll look at pumpkins, and how this tasty fruit can be used to make bread, cookies, cakes, and even the traditional Pumpkin Pie. Before I go, I want to recommend a REALLY good movie Rabbi turned me onto. It’s a movie called Ushpizin, and is a wonderful story about a couple who have ‘found religion’, and their trials and tribulations in trying to have a happy holiday. It’s actually a comedy on par with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and made me chuckle the night away. I highly recommend finding this film from Israel, as it’ll make you smile by the end. But, for now, let me get back to trying to unpack before my birthday tomorrow with our usual sendoff: Shalom and Good Cooking!

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October 23, 2006. canning, recipes.

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