Early Sunday morning, Number One Son headed to the St. Paul Farmers Market. He came home loaded down with goodies.
Cucumbers were in the first bag I opened. They were the small ones, just right for dill pickles. I washed them, trimmed off the blossom ends, packed them in pint jars with a bit of dill and added boiling brine. I cheated on the brine and used Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle Mix. I have a long history of making really lousy homemade dill pickles. Youngest Son uses the Mrs. Wages mix and his dills are excellent, so I went that route. The pickles went into my water bath canner for 10 minutes. I got 25 pints. We figured out later that even with using the mix and buying cukes, it was still less expensive than buying pickles at the store on sale. With any kind of luck Son will be able to find some larger cucumbers next weekend that I can use for sliced Bread and Butter Pickles. I make awesome Bread and Butters. :)
He brought home four cantaloupe that are probably some of the best tasting I have ever had. There is such a huge difference between the locally grown and the ones that are shipped into the stores. I peeled them and cut them into chunks. We have been eating off them for the past two days and still have at least two quart bags full left in the fridge.
By the time I finished the pickles I was, as some of our friends across the pond would say, knackered. So I left the cabbage until this morning.
We buy cabbage from the same vendor every year. I don't know what kind they are, but they are huge. They aren't round like the ones you typically see in the store, but are a more flattened shape. They average about 12 inches across and maybe six to eight inches tall and they are solid. The vendor charges only $2 each. Son brought home five of them. This morning I started making sauerkraut. As I don't have a good place for a crock or bucket, I use this recipe instead. I have made sauerkraut this way in the past and it has turned out really good.
Cabbage (the amount depends upon how much kraut you want to make)
1. Shred cabbage and pack tightly into quart jars up to 1/2 inch from the top.
2. Add 1 teaspoon canning salt and 1 teaspoon sugar to the top of each quart.
3. Pour boiling water into each jar up to the top of the kraut.
4. Use a knife gently inserted into the jar to remove any bubbles.
5. Put on canning lids and screw on cap loosely, not tight.
6. Put the jars in a sink or pan so that any bubbling water won't make a mess.
7. Let ferment for 24 hours.
8. Remove the caps, remove any scum if necessary and refill with boiling water as needed.
9. Seal as tightly as you can with your hand.
10. Let ferment for 3 days. It does smell a bit, so you might want to do it in a basement, garage or spare room where it isn't too cold.
11. Now it's ready to process!
12. Process the quarts for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store for a minimum of three weeks before eating.
I put the filled jars into the boxes they came in that are lined with plastic so if there is any bubble-over it won't soak through the cardboard. I have never had a problem with the smell. I have 14 quarts and 16 pints of sauerkraut happily fermenting away. The pint jars are an experiment. Right now there are two of us here, but later there will be just me. A quart of kraut is just too much for one person. I just put half the salt and sugar into each jar and proceeded from there.
I still had a head and a half of cabbage left, so I cut it up into about one-inch pieces and filled my dehydrator trays. Both dehydrators are running, each with 8 trays and I still have enough cabbage to probably fill all 16 trays again.
My dill pickle jars are sitting in boxes on my kitchen floor. The reason my dill pickle jars are sitting in boxes on my kitchen floor is because I have no more room on my shelves. I am going to have to take part of a day and do some serious rearranging in order to have a spot for everything. I am not complaining, mind you. It has taken me several months to build my home canned food back up after using so much of it over the winter. With the world around us in such a turmoil, it is comforting to know that no matter what happens, my family will not go hungry.
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