Tag Archives: Pickles

Seduce Me (with safety!)

Making Peach Pickles today (see the recipe from “So Easy to Preserve” below) because that is one does this time of year when you have green peaches and don’t want to wait for them to ripen because you MUST can something!


Peach Pickles


8 pounds peeled peaches
2 tablespoons whole cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon ginger
6¾ cups sugar
1 quart vinegar
4 sticks cinnamon (2 inches long)

Method: Wash and peel peaches with a sharp knife, and drop into a cold solution of ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid and 2 quarts water. Dissolve sugar in vinegar in saucepot and put on range to heat. Boil 5 minutes and skim. Add spices (tied loosely in cheesecloth). Drain peaches. Drop drained peaches into boiling syrup and cook until they can be pierced with a fork, but are not yet soft. Remove from range and allow peaches to set in syrup overnight to plump. Bring to a boil and pack into hot jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Cover with syrup, maintaining the ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 20 minutes in boiling water bath. Yields about six pint jars.

This extension-tested recipe is safe for home canning if the directions are followed.  But it is sort of boring – it makes me wonder if there isn’t something more.  I miss the days when community recipe books said things like:

“According to Mrs. Ina Mae Jones of Petersburg, these pickled peaches are a perfect accompaniment for roast pork and delightful on ice cream.  Her bridge club is clamoring for the recipe!”

If the bridge club is clamoring then this is something that I MUST make!  It seduces and entices me – I can envision the pork roast on a beautifully appointed table with a gleaming jar of beautiful golden pickled peaches bringing a bit of sunshine to a dark winter meal.  Oh, wait, that is just what the blog post will look like!!  The reality is quite different – at least at my house!  I also recognize that however glamorous and attractive the cookbook or blogger makes a dish or recipe sound, if it isn’t safe for my family then I want nothing to do with it!

WSU Food Safety trained me – vigorously I might add – in safe and appropriate procedures to preserve all manner of foods at home.  I am anointed by The Mother Ship (WSU Pullman) to provide information and answer questions about all home preservation and food safety issues using APPROVED MATERIALS.  These are defined as anything that was tested for safety (for processing time and preservation method) by the National Center for Home Food Preservation or any Extension program dated 2010 or later.  We are not able to teach classes or certify volunteers in a Master Food Preserver program because our office (WSU Kitsap) does not have a food science or food safety faculty member on staff.  Right now there are only four counties with a food safety faculty member – which is about par with the rest of the nation. Shifting priorities within the national land grant university system in general and extension programming in particular 15-20 years ago moved resources from traditional home economic and natural resource faculty (food safety, clothing and textiles, agriculture) into economic development and youth and family since folks weren’t cooking, canning, sewing, and farming as much as in the 40s and 50s.  Like all large institutions this change took place slowly and over a decade or so and was combined with regionalization of programming in an age of cost cutting, changing the face of extension considerably.

The problem?

A few years back we had this little economic downturn and families and individuals returned to many of those tried and true ways to save money in tough times – cooking, canning, sewing, gardening, farming – and not only did they start to do those things – but they started to BLOG about it!!  Many folks tried to pick up traditional food preservation and canning skills after their families had taken a couple generations off.  Lacking experienced teachers and taking the lead from the explosion of DIY and cooking shows folks started trying new things and tweaking recipes not realizing that the principles of safe home food preservation are based upon the acidity of the product being canned.  Low acid foods CAN NOT be processed safely in a water bath canner.  So, that onion jam recipe that looks so tasty?  It can’t be safely preserved – you can make it and keep it in the fridge – but don’t can it!  When Martha Stewart makes jam and seals it with paraffin?  Run away!  Use the jar labels but not the food preservation advice!  Someone gives you Grandma’s cookbook?  Put it up on the shelf along side those vintage kitchen tools – it will be a nice decorator touch.   I know that this may hit close to home for some because often if I suggest that using a recipe from 1940 might not be safe in an online forum, a Facebook flame-war errupts as everyone weighs in with “I have been doing it this way for years and we are fine!!!”  My response is often: “If your doctor pulled out a medical book from the 1940s as his major resource in treating cancer for you or a member of your family, what would you do??”

So, what are you to do if you have a question about a recipe or need food preservation or food safety questions answered?  Extension is online and here to help!   Check out the WSU Kitsap Food Products page for links to all of all the extension publications containing safe and tested recipes for a wide range of home preservation.  Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation for recipes and tips.  Or, give us a call at 360-337-7026 and leave a brief message.  We will get back to you within 24 hrs if possible.  If you are right in the middle of a project and need help NOW you can tap into the resources of our neighbors to the south and call the OSU Food Safety/Preservation Hotline at 1-800-354-7319.  It is staffed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from July 15 to Oct. 11.  In 2012 they responded to about 3,500 calls from consumers!

Happy (and safe) canning!

Dead Cuke Vines Lead to Passing of Dill Pickle Season

Now, THAT’s a catchy title.  Well, I think this weekend I canned the last batch of dill pickles for the year!  I came pretty close to my goal this year.  I am estimating (because I am too pooped to get off of the couch) when I say I have 54 quarts of pickles stored and another 3 gallons of sour pickles in the fermentor.  Not too bad, considering the growing conditions this year!  We love pickles around here, and they are always a welcome gift.  I am not a gift-giver, so this makes my life a little easier.

There’s plenty of time left to preserve and so much more to harvest.  More to pickle, just not cukes.   If you don’t know where to start on food preservation, here’s a great place...

Preserving the Harvest Classes –  CLASSES START NEXT WEEKEND!!!  

Start getting your “nut” count for the year together so we can compare.  For encouragement, feast your eyes on this:

Delectable Dill Pickles

Adult Easter Eggs, Wiggie, and the Bucket List

It has been a while since I blogged.  I have been keeping busy with the online writing course I am taking at Oregon State University for my degree.  It has left precious little time to write for fun and I am glad that Diane has taken the lead and given us wonderful blogs to read!  Of course, just because I wasn’t blogging, doesn’t mean that there weren’t wandering thoughts.  Here is teh potpourri of “What is Shannon thinking about?”.

Perfectly Pickled Pink

-PICKLIN-  I am so excited for class tomorrow because I love pickling!  We are going to be making a batch of sauerkraut and then pickled eggs!  A truckstop treat now comes to your refrigerator!  I haven’t decided which recipe I will go with yet, but it is sure to have beet juice in it.  There are still a few spots left…email me shannon.harkness@wsu.edu

-Weather-  What is up?  Freakishly cold and SNOW!  We are hungry down here, craving the goodness of local food!  I was wondering where my farmer has been, a little worried that I hadn’t seen her delightful face.  Andrea is growing here at our farm and I have been looking forward to microbrews with her after a long, tiring day of hard work.  So, the other day when she graced the farm with her presence, I went on a photo shoot.  All National Geographic – like.  I found her, intently listening to her ipod and grumbling at the irrigation pipe that I had been using (because I found a good deal on it).  So, I crept in for the shot.

Creeping up to the garden fence...

And the next shot didn’t turn out.  I was literally a foot away from her, when she noticed she wasn’t alone.  The picture was all-a-fuzz because I was RIGL (rolling in grass laughing).  I scared the jelly beans out of her!  She forgave me and then we transplanted rhubarb and talked “farm”.

– The Canning Bucket List – I stole this idea from Well Preserved, a blog I stalk.  This topic is so worthy of a grander post, but I wanted to let you in on it and give you some time to find us on facebook, “WSU Kitsap Small Farms”.  This will be the portal that we can use to take us into the Bucket List World where we talk about what’s in our pots.  Diane and I have been drooling over the pickled garlic scapes that we had at a KCAA potluck.  Which, by the way, is one of the best potlucks you will ever attend and it happens monthly (Third Monday).  Let me digress a little and say that this month the topic is Rain Gardens.

Well, that’s that.  That’s what I have been thinking about.  Randomness. 

**disclaimer** No farmers were hurt in the photo shooting process, scared – Yes, but not hurt.

In a Pickle!

Is there a pickle that tickles your tastebuds?  For me it is PICKLED ASPARAGUS!  I LOVE it!!  In late summer when I was inundated with cucumbers I put up about 20 quarts of baby dill pickles, sweet pickle chunks, and bread and butter pickles – I made saurkraut with cabbage from Pheasant Field Farm.  Frankly I pickled and preserved until I lost my will to can.  By the end of September I was calling Shannon and begging her to take my cucumbers because she has a passion for pickling.  Her pickles and canned good are amazing.  And even she was flagging a bit under the pressure to preserve every last bit of summer.

But, that was months ago!  Now that spring is (almost) upon us, the Farmers Markets are starting up and soon they will be bursting with local fruits and veggies, and a girl’s mind can’t help but turn to canning and preserving again!   It will be months before pickling cucs show up in markets but there is so much promise in spring vegetables!  Asparagus is starting to come up in my garden and what we don’t manage to eat fresh out of the garden (it can be hard to get enough to the house to serve for dinner!) I love to pickle.  It is a perfect accompaniment for summer suppers.  I would post a picture of my pickled asparagus – but we ate it all so you will have to be satisfied with a snapshot of asparagus in the garden from last year.  I think I ate it right after the picture was taken!

Spring is also when the chickens are laying eggs like crazy and it is so easy to make pickled eggs!  Do them in beet juice and they are colorful AND delish!  Think of them as Easter Eggs for adults!

Farmers Market season is upon us and soon they will be bursting with local veggies.  Get ready now and learn how to pickle and preserve the taste of spring for cold days to come.  Join Shannon for “In A Pickle” April 16, 1-4pm @ Silverdale Community Center and April 19, 6-9 @ the Fairgrounds President’s Hall Kitchen.  Cost: $35/ person or $50/ family. Register online: http://kitsap.wsu.edu/