Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cucumbers and Yellow Squash and Zucchini Oh My! (Updated w/Recipes)

(Edited to add in recipes for my sake, so even when I lose the book, I can find them.)

We have a garden. My dad has a theory that what we can't eat, I'll can or dehydrate or freeze or he'll give away. It works great, but it also means that my entire summer vacation that hasn't been screenprinting t-shirts (my parents are self employed and we print shirts) has been mostly spent in the kitchen canning, dehydrating or making soap.

So far, I've made 4 or 5 batches of pickles: Garlic, Kosher Dills and Sweet Pickles. My dad likes sweet pickles, but not too sweet, so the recipe I used for those called for 10 cups sugar, I only put 7. They're sweet enough, I hate to think about what 10 cups would be like. For the Kosher Dills, it called for mustard seed. I didn't want to go to the store and buy more, so I just took the 55 gallon drum of mustard green seed stalks we have drying on the porch and my mom and I spent 2 hours cleaning mustard seeds to use in pickles. They're tiny black ones, but the Kosher Dills are delicious. :) Not one to waste anything, I decided to use the ends of the cucumbers to puree and make cucumber soap the next day. I'll put up pictures of that soap and the other ones I made later. The top picture is some of the Kosher Dills, the second one is some of the Sweet Pickles. The easiest way to tell them apart is the dill floating in the Kosher ones versus nothing floating in the Sweet ones. :)

Kosher Dills (From So Easy to Preserve from the Cooperative Extension of University of Georgia)
(6-7 Pints)

30-36 cucumbers, 3-4" long
3 C vinegar
3 C water
6 T salt
Fresh or dried dill
Mustard seed

Wash the cucumbers. Slice 1/16" from blossom end and discard. Leave 1/4" of stem attached. Make a brine of vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Place a generous layer of dill, 1/2 to 1 clove of garlic (sliced) and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed in the bottom of each pint jar. Pack cucumbers into hot jars. When the jars are half filled with cucumbers, add more dill and complete packing. Fill the jars 1/2" from the top with boiling brine. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath. Pickles will shrivel after processing. They will later plump in the jar.

My Changes
I cut larger cucumbers up into chunks instead of whole little ones. I used black mustard seed from our garden instead of the yellow one I'd normally buy at the store. The flavor is good though, so I'm not complaining. I used quart jars, just tacked on 5 extra minutes of time in the BWB.

Sweet Cucumber Pickles (From So Easy to Preserve from the Cooperative Extension of University of Georgia)
(4-5 pints)

3 pounds cucumbers, medium sized
1 quart vinegar
2 t salt
5 C sugar

Wash cucumbers. Slice 1/16" off blossom ends and discard. Pour boiling water over the cucumbers and let stand 5-10 minutes. Drain off the hot water and pour cold water over the cucumbers. Use running water or change water until cucumbers are cooled. Mix vinegar, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. Place cucumbers into the boiling liquid. Return to a boil. Pack hot pickles into hot canning jars, leaving 1/2" head space. Fill jars to 1/2" from top with boiling liquid. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

My Changes
I used chunks of bigger cucumbers again instead of little ones, only 3 1/2 C of sugar instead of 5 since my dad wanted not too sweet pickles. I made these in quarts so I tacked on 5 minutes to the BWB time.

Since we also have an exorbant amount of zucchini and yellow squash, we cut them up and dehydrate them. This is great if you like zucchini Parmesan but hate the wetness of squash in food. Simply layer your pan's bottom with dried summer squash, lightly spray some water on it, pour spaghetti sauce, put squash, pour sauce, etc. Let it sit about 20 - 30 minutes before putting it in the oven to give it time to soften some.

For drying, cut them up in chunks.

Lay them out on the tray, it doesn't really matter if they touch.

 Dry them at 145 Degrees until they snap when you break them in half. For reference, the dried zucchini below is what came from that loaded tray above.

Any suggestions on other pickle types or things to do with squash would be great. We've tried a ton of things, love a bunch of them, but after 3-4 years of squash, I'm running out of ideas... :P

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