Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peck of Pickled Patty Pan

We were given a sack full of cucumbers from a friend's garden. We ate a few and I pickled the rest. Since I had a huge batch of pickling solution mixed up I went ahead and pickled the patty pan squash from my MIL's garden too.

I first peeled, seeded and sliced the squash in 1/4 inch slices.

I found it easiest to halve them, then scoop out the seeds, then peel with a veggie peeler. The skins could possibly have stayed on, but sometimes they are thick and I did not want them to ruin the pickles.

The slices were then placed in a big bowl with 1/3 cup of canning salt, and crushed ice. The salt helps to draw out the moisture through the process of osmosis. Basic idea behind osmosis is that nature wants all solutions to be of even salinity, so the salty water pulls the not-salty water out of the veggies. After a 1 hour soak the veggies were nice and salty. I'm not sure what function the ice served except to keep the mixture very cold.

I mixed up the pickling solution (apple cider vinegar, sugar, dill seed, celery seed)according to the recipe in my cook book. The mixture was heated on the stove until the sugar melted.

The veggies were added to the pickling solution and heated through (I kept the cucs and the squash in separate batches). The pickles were then ladled into sterilized jars, then processed for ? minutes.

We have no 'real' canning equipment yet. So we used our Aggie ingenuity to make do with what we could find. I used silicon baking mit to handle the jars, a stew pot as a canner.

spaghetti tongs to lower them into the water

I put a toaster oven rack on the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pan.

We put towels over the jars to keep them from cooling too quickly and possibly breaking. I'm not sure how anything could cool off in my kitchen, it gets very hot in there during summer evenings.

Ahh, pickles! We made a mistake and put juice and veggies in all at once for the cucumbers (on the right of the picture). The squash we used a slotted spoon and filled the jar to the brim before adding the juice. Much better.

Of the 9 jars we processed only 2 did not seal properly, which is fine by me because I have the excuse to taste the product early. I am very pleased with the squash pickles, the texture is a bit mealier than a cucumber, but overall it is a very nice texture. I"m afraid my vinegar was a little old, so they all have a strong vinegar smell to them, but I'm learning to like that. I craved vinegar during my last pregnancy. I would make up batches of pickles then eat them all before hubby even got home. The funniest part was that people teased me that I was pregnant, and I was, but I just did not know it at the time.

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