Cranberry-Basil Margarita with Homegrown Citrus & Herbs

December 8th, 2017 § 4 comments § permalink


Cranberry-Basil Margarita

Tis the season for entertaining, and for many of us, that means welcoming guests with refreshing, festive cocktails. At the moment, I’m planning a Winter Solstice get-together for family. This will be more of a roam-about the room and chat party than a sit-down dinner, so I’m dreaming up tasty libations to set out in punch bowls and pitchers, or perhaps even prepare —at least in part— a day in advance. I’ve been trying out a few different twists on favorite cocktail recipes and this fresh take on a classic Margarita definitely fits the bill.Don’t you just love cranberries? They glow like ruby beads and they’re so willing to wait around in the fridge! As a life-long New Englander, I always make my own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, and an extra batch or two for using on sandwiches, later. While they are in season, I pick up a few extra bags of fresh cranberries whenever I’m at the market. I freeze what I can’t use and thaw them when I need some bright color in the dead of winter.Calamondin Orange in the Kitchen

I’ve always used cranberries in baked goods and savory sauces, but more recently, I’ve been experimenting with them in cocktails. Cranberry juice is one of the most popular mixers, so why not put the whole fruit in your drink? Cranberries combine well with so many things. Citrus —especially oranges and limes— is an obvious choice, but the tart flavor and bright red color of cranberries practically begs for fresh, green herbs as well. Hello windowsill herb garden and potted citrus trees, what do you have on offer today? Basil? Ripe calamondin oranges? OK, lets play.First, I make up a basic cranberry sauce, aka cranberry “jam”, (see recipe, below). This tart, multi-use condiment will keep well, covered in the fridge, for a few days. Obviously, cranberry sauce is great on sandwiches, but it’s also delicious when swirled into plain, Greek yogurt or dabbed atop warm oatmeal with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup. But wait! Don’t eat it all! You’re gonna love using this jam in cocktails —especially this Cranberry-Basil Margarita!

Cranberry-Basil Margarita

Single recipe serves 1, Pitcher recipe serves 8

Ingredients

Cranberry Sauce

1       12 oz. package of fresh or frozen cranberries

1       cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

½     cup sugar (add more for sweet-tooths, up to 1 cup, to taste)

1        tbs fresh orange zest (optional)

Sugar-Salt 

¼       cup kosher salt

¼       cup granulated sugar

Single Cocktail 

sugar-salt mixture for rimming glass (recipe above)

1       calamondin orange or lime wedge

2       fresh basil leaves

1 ½  ounces blanco tequila (100% blue agave)

¾     ounce fresh squeezed calamondin orange or lime juice

½     ounce orange liquor, such as Cointreau, or triple sec

1       ounce cranberry sauce (recipe above)

½     ounce agave syrup (or simple syrup), or ¾ ounce, for sweeter taste

¾     cup of ice cubes (about 6-8 cubes, plus more for glass)

Pitcher of Margaritas 

sugar-salt mixture for rimming glasses (recipe above)

16     fresh basil leaves

½     cup agave syrup (or simple syrup), or ¾ cup for sweeter taste

1       cup cranberry sauce (recipe above)

4       calamondin oranges or 1 lime, cut into wedges

¾     cup fresh calamondin orange or lime juice

½     cup orange liquor, such as Cointreau, or triple sec

1 ½  cups blanco tequila (100% blue agave)

6       cups ice cubes, plus more for glasses

Directions 

For Cranberry Sauce

Heat a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice and stir in ½-¾ cup of sugar on medium-high. When the mixture begins to boil, stir in 12 oz. of cranberries. Continue stirring and allow the mixture to bubble for a minute or two. Lower the heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes. When cranberries begin to pop and juice starts to foam, turn off the heat and crush the berries with a potato masher. The sauce should be chunky, with bits of fruit and some whole berries. Consistency will become more jam-like as it cools. Cover and refrigerate (up to 3 days), until ready for use.

For Sugar-Salt

Combine sugar and salt in a small container with lid. Shake and pour onto a small plate (be sure to choose one wide enough to fit the overturned rim of your cocktail glass).

For Single Margaritas (up to two servings will fit in a standard sized cocktail shaker)

Moisten the rim of an Old Fashioned or Margarita glass with the citrus wedge (a wide-mouth, stemless wineglass will also work). Turn the rim down on the plate of sugar-salt and give it a slight twist while digging into the mixture.

In the bottom of a standard-size cocktail shaker, crush the basil leaves with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. When coarsely mashed, add the tequila, citrus juice, orange liquor/triple sec, cranberry ‘jam’ and the agave syrup. Stir. Add ice. Cover and shake for at least 30 seconds. For a rustic cocktail, pour (or, for a more refined cocktail, strain), into the sugar-salt crusted glass and serve immediately with a citrus wedge garnish and/or sprig of fresh basil.

For Pitcher of Margaritas

In the bottom of a large pitcher, crush basil leaves with muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, until coarsely mashed. Add tequila, citrus juice, orange liquor/triple sec, cranberry ‘jam’ and agave syrup. I like to throw in a few decorative wedges of citrus when using a glass pitcher. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until well chilled.

When ready to serve, pour the sugar-salt mixture on a small plate. Rub the rims of 2 Old Fashioned glasses with a citrus wedge (a classic margarita glass or stemless wine glass will also work, in a pinch); dip and twist the rims in sugar/salt mixture.

Stir the pitcher of margarita mix. Fill a cocktail shaker ½ full with ice and pour in 1 cup (plus) of the margarita mixture. Be sure a bit of muddled basil gets in! Shake until chilled and pour (unstrained for a rustic drink or strained for a more refined cocktail) into two of the sugar-salt crusted glasses. Garnish with a citrus wedge and basil leaf. Repeat for remaining guests or servings.

C  H  E  E  R  S   !  ! 


Article & Photography copyright Michaela Harlow at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Celebrating the Swan Song of Summer: Grilled Peaches with Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions & Pecans . . .

September 22nd, 2013 § Comments Off on Celebrating the Swan Song of Summer: Grilled Peaches with Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions & Pecans . . . § permalink

Grilled Peaches stuffed with Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Pecans with Balsamic Glaze - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Grilled Peaches with Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Toasted Pecans & Balsamic Glaze

Gloria Peaches at Scott Farm Orchard - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comGloria Peaches at Scott Farm Orchard, Vermont. According to Scott Farm orchard manager, Zeke Goodband, these beautiful, sweet, firm-fleshed peaches are the perfect choice for grilling and roasting!

Scott Farm Peaches in a Bowl - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comBeautiful Scott Farm Peaches, Almost too Good to Eat

Oh summer, summer, summer . . .Where have you gone? As I sit here in my garden chair —surveying the red-tipped Viburnum leaves and orange-tinted Flame Grass— once again I marvel at the quick passage of time. In just a few short hours, autumn will officially begin in the Northern Hemisphere, (20:44 UTC or 4:44 pm ET). Much as I love the fall —always my favorite season— this year I feel more than a touch of melancholy as I let sweet summer go.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' in Autumn - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Blushing Limelight Hydrangea (H. paniculata ‘Limelight’) in the Garden this Morning

Canada Geese and Harvest Moon - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com  Canada Geese Slip Away by the Light of the Full Harvest Moon

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' in late summer - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Morning Light Maiden Grass Dances in the Cool Breeze (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’)

Although this has been a rather cool and rainy season, the months were also filled with warm riches and delights; kayaking on the river, a trip to Block Island, Christmas-in-July fireworks, a picnic in the orchard at Scott Farm, milestone family birthdays, and exciting projects at work. This has also been a year of culinary exploration and adventures thanks to delightful produce from my kitchen garden and fruit from nearby farms.

Swan Song of Summer - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com The Swan Song of Summer 

Recently, after picking up fresh, late-season peaches from Zeke Goodband at Scott Farm, in Dummerston, Vermont, I decided to experiment with savory recipes featuring this delightful fruit. Grilling peaches has always been a favorite late-summer pastime, and after sampling a delicious appetizer of blue cheese, caramelized onion and pecan stuffed peaches at Magpie Restaurant in nearby Greenfield, Massachusetts, I decided to give the idea a whirl. Simple to prepare and delicious as an appetizer or side dish, these grilled, stuffed peaches are the perfect way to say farewell to summertime.

So as we listen to the swan-song of summer —crickets in the meadow and bluejays in the scrub— here’s a touch of sweetness to send the gentle season on her way . . .

Grilled and Stuffed Peaches on Platter with Balsamic Glaze - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com

Grilled Peaches with Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Toasted Pecans & Balsamic Glaze

 Appetizer or Light Side for Six

Ingredients

6 Large Gloria Peaches (sliced in half & pitted, skin on)

1/8 cup Pecans (toasted, chopped fine)

1 small, sweet onion, caramelized and chopped fine

1/4 cup Crumbled Blue Cheese (or more)

Salt to taste

Butter for Grilling

Balsamic Glaze for Drizzling Platter

Grilling Peaches - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com

Method

Caramelize onions, chop/toast pecans, and crumble high-quality blue cheese in advance. Mix the three ingredients together in a small bowl and salt lightly to taste. Set aside.

Slice and pit peaches. Scoop out center neatly to make a bit of room for stuffing if pits are small, and set aside on a platter for grilling. If grilling over flame, brush peaches with melted butter and set on medium-hot grill, away from direct flame. If grilling indoors (Foreman grill or the like), heat the grill and then rub with butter. Grill the peaches until fragrant and soft, but still firm. Remove from heat and fill each peach with a tablespoon or more of stuffing. Arrange on platter and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Grilled, Stuffed Peaches with Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Pecans and Balsamic Glaze - Michaela Medina Harlow - thegardenerseden.com Grilled, Stuffed Peaches Make a Great Appetizer or Side Dish with Other Grilled Foods. Serve Warm or at Room Temperature.

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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All Hail, Amazing Kale! Jennifer Audette On Summer’s Hippest Superfood & Sumptuous Peach, Corn & Kale Salad . . .

August 3rd, 2013 § 6 comments § permalink

Peach, Corn and Kale Salad - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comPeach, Corn & Kale Salad, Recipe Below

Kale, glorious kale. A member of the extensive Brassica oleracea species (cultivars: cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, savoy), kale is in the acephala group, which means “headless”. Kale and its nearly identical partner, collards, are likely quite similar to the earliest forms of cultivated cabbage, which were also non-head forming and known to be in cultivation for thousands of years.  The word “kale” is apparently Scottish in origin stemming from the Roman coles and caulis, their words for cabbage. Bet you can guess where the words “cauliflower” and “cole crops” come from now, too. In medieval times this group of vegetables was known as coleworts or colewyrts.

Like my favorite Vermont-made t-shirt says, we should all “Eat More Kale”, but kale can be a hard sell, even to people who love their veggies. Does the idea of kale cause you to cringe as you picture bitter greens lumped in a foreboding pile on your plate like a gustatory penance for all the junk food you ate this week? Well you’re in luck, because I’m here, a Kale Krusader, to convert you.

Redbor and Rainbow Lacinato Kale Harvest - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comHarvesting Tender Leaves of Redbor & Rainbow Lacinato Kale

Kale can be planted each spring as soon as the soil is workable, which we all know is the time when gardeners chomp-at-the-bit to stick hope into the cold earth and wait for it to grow. So, don’t you dare plant tomatoes, peppers and green beans in early May as a desperate attempt to get a jump on the season only to have failed germination and frost-killed seedlings! You should be planting seeds or six-packs of kale instead! Winterbor is my favorite variety because I like how the ruffle-y leaves trap dressings and seasonings. But there are other varieties: Lacinato (dinosaur kale), Red Russian, Rainbow Russian, Red Winterbor and many others.

Rainbow Lacinato Kale - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Rainbow Lacinato Kale with Lovely Hints of Lavender, Blue and Turquoise, is Even Pretty in Edible Floral Arrangements

I have grown kale easily from seed in the past, but now prefer to purchase six-packs of healthy starts.  The tiny, tentative leaves emerging from seeds were harder for me to protect from the darn slugs. The more mature six-pack starts seem to stand up better to moderate slug and snail abuse.  Kale prefers well-drained, organically rich soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 and full sun.  The most common pest you’ll find on your kale is the cabbage worm, the larval stage of those pretty little white cabbage butterflies. Dark green frass (fancy word for poop), collecting on the stems of your kale plants will give the little buggers away.  So, do a daily walk-through looking for frass. If you find any, search for the well-camouflaged cabbage worm. It will be almost the exact color of the kale stem. Pick it off and dispose of by your preferred method. (I throw them onto the driveway, hoping that birds might eat them. I’m not sure if this system actually works as planned since I’ve never done a follow-up study of my disposal method.) Kale is very easy to grow and produces from early spring right through late fall. They say frosts make the leaves sweeter, but honestly, I’ve never noticed a big difference.  This year, the neighborhood woodchuck took a liking to my kale and in early July ate most of my crop (18 plants).  But once the woodchuck problem was solved (a story for another day), the kale recovered even stronger than before and on it grows.  Go kale, go!

Young Redbor Kale Leaf - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Beautiful, Curly Redbor Kale is Great for Holding Dressing and Seasoning, or Fancying Up a Serving Bowl

So with the growing part out of the way I can hear you wondering, “yeah, but what’s so great about eating the stuff?” I’m glad you asked! When you grow your own kale you can pick it right before you’re going to eat it so it’s fresh and tender. You don’t get stuck with excessive bits of the hard, fibrous ribs like you get in a bag of kale from the grocery store. You can harvest the younger leaves for salads. Save the more hearty leaves to braise atop golden-brown onions and garlic for 20 minutes (adding small amounts of water to keep from burning). Then toss with a good squirt of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan cheese and serve over your favorite pasta. You can tear kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle over the top of a pizza before popping it into the oven. The edges of the kale will get crisp and nutty while the part in contact with the pizza stays tender.  And if you missed the craze of “Kale Chips”, just do an internet search and you’ll find plenty of recipes for the simple-to-make, healthy, addictive, salty snack.  You can make a dressing with tahini, tamari, red wine vinegar, garlic and water then toss with torn kale leaves. Top with tomato, cucumber and avocado.

Ingredients for Peach, Corn and Kale Salad - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Fresh Ingredients from the Garden and Walker Farm Make Great Companions for Homegrown Kale

But hands down, this is my new favorite thing to make with kale. This salad appeared in my life just three weeks ago and I’ve made it four times since then. Because kale is so hearty, it holds up as leftovers even under an acidic dressing that would wilt lesser greens. So this recipe is great to make in a big batch to have for quick, healthy lunches and dinner side dishes for several days.  If there’s still time where you live to buy local corn and perfectly ripe peaches, you should make this salad post haste. I think there will be a few kale converts among the ranks.

Peach, Corn and Kale Salad with Wine - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com

Kale, Peach and Corn Salad

(adapted from a recipe at NPR.com)

Ingredients for 6 servings

Dressing

½ cup olive oil (the better the quality, the better your dressing)

¼ cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (or more to taste)

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 cup of red onion very thinly sliced into half moons

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, vinegar, honey, salt & pepper. Add the thinly sliced onion, stir and allow to sit for 15 minutes or so. This mellows the flavors and softens the onion.

Salad

1 bunch of kale, (maybe about 10 – 12 small to medium stalks) washed, dried and torn into smaller pieces

½ a bunch of cilantro, stems removed and leaves torn, or to taste

4 ears of corn, uncooked, cut off the cob

4 peaches, peeled, cut into wedges

4 oz. of feta or to taste (I use Vermont’s Maplebrook Cheese and it’s delicious!)

Rainbow Lacinato and Redbor Kale - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com

Method

Combine the kale and cilantro in a large bowl. Pour dressing over greens. Toss well, making sure to get the dressing over every piece of kale. Then add the corn kernels, the peach slices and the feta.  If you can let the salad rest, (refrigerated or not) for about an hour, the kale will absorb more dressing and soften slightly.  Keep leftovers refrigerated.  Enjoy!

Peach, Corn and Kale Salad Mixing - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Toss the Ingredients Together Well and Let Stand in the Refrigerator for One Hour or More, Before Serving

The best thing about eating so much kale is that it’s one of those supposed “superfoods”, which means I can drink more wine and eat more dessert with less guilt, right?  Hurray!

I know there are other kale-lovers out there in TGE-land. Got any great recipes to share?

Peach, Corn and Kale Salad and Wine - michaela m harlow - thegardenerseden.comA Sumptuous Summer Salad & Crisp White Wine Make a Perfect Light Dinner for Two on a Sultry, August Evening

Today’s guest blogger, multi-talented writer Jennifer Audette is author of the always entertaining and often humorous Cozy Toes BlogspotWhen not experimenting with canning, baking, cooking, horticulture, entomology or other scientific pursuits, Jennifer can be found writing, hiking, making music, working at Walker Farm and delivering smiles to her very fortunate friends.

Travel back to Jennifer’s previous post on Dilly Beans by clicking here.  

Thank you Jen! xo 

Article ⓒ Jennifer Audette, Photography ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Caramel-Drizzled, Spiced Coffee Cake, Daylight Savings & Winter’s Last Hurrah

March 9th, 2013 § 5 comments § permalink

Caramel Drizzled Coffee Cake ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.com Caramel-Drizzled Coffee Cake Takes the Edge Off a Winter Storm

Late winter snow storms are real heart-breakers. And it seems that, no matter how many times we’re hit by an early March ‘weather event’, I’m always caught by surprise. Songbirds are returning, buds are swelling on trees, and clocks are about to spring forward to daylight savings time (p.s. Don’t forget to move clocks ahead an hour before you turn in tonight, as DST starts 3/10/13).

It’s just starting to feel like a new season, and then. . .  It hits. A wet, heavy snowstorm. Doesn’t seem quite fair!

At times like these, I usually feel the need to bake something to lift my weary spirits and give me energy to dig out; something warm and golden and just a little bit gooey. What to do? I scanned the kitchen and my eyes focused in on my Finca Rosa Blanca coffee beans, sitting on the countertop. Mmmm. That’s it! Something like . . .

Caramel-Drizzled Coffee Cake

(ingredients for one 10-inch tube cake or two smaller cakes)

1/2 lb (2 sticks) of butter at room temperature

1 cup of granulated sugar

3 eggs at room temperature

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

3/4 cup sour cream or plain, Greek yogurt (full fat or 2%)

1/4 cup espresso or very strongly brewed French roast coffee, cooled*

5 teaspoons vanilla extract (or rum for a twist)

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Caramel Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)

1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method

This is a very simple cake, but first, make yourself some espresso or some very strong French roast coffee to wake yourself up. Then, set aside 1/4 cup of espresso/coffee to cool and preheat your oven to 350° fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 10″ tube or Bundt pan (you can also use other shapes and types of pans of similar size, or make two cakes in 8″ spring-form pans, as I did for the photo). Now go gather your ingredients.

In a large bowl, blend the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together with a fork. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream or Greek yogurt with the espresso (or coffee) and 5 teaspoons of vanilla, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl (I use a stand mixer), beat the butter for a few seconds, add in the sugar and beat a minute or two. Add in three eggs at room temperature and beat until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Very slowly, combine the dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl, and beat until smooth. Add in the sour cream or yogurt/coffee/vanilla mix and beat the mixture a bit longer.

Pour the cake batter into the buttered/floured pan, stick it into the oven and set your timer to bake for 45-50 minutes. It’s done when the top is golden colored and a stick pulls out clean from the center of the cake. When done, let rest for 5 or 10 minutes and then remove the cake form/invert to cool. Flip the cake onto a serving platter. Now, at this point, I like to prick little holes in the cake with a stick or fork so that some of the caramel drizzle gets inside. That’s up to you.

To make the caramel drizzle: combine the brown sugar, yogurt and vanilla in a small bowl and stir well until blended. Set aside until cake is cooled and then drizzle over to your heart’s content (and set some aside for sinfully delicious dipping).

*If you’d rather not add coffee (even decaf?), you can omit this ingredient and instead use one full cup of yogurt or sour cream in the main cake.

Snow-Covered Nest ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.com

Now, if you’re like me, you hate waiting, so you go outside to shovel while your cake bakes. This gives you the heart to clear snow from the roof, which has slid down and piled atop the already snow-covered terrace and drifted into the walkways. Finish that off, then come in, drizzle the coffee cake, have a thick slice, and then go back out to clear the pathways, cars, truck, tractor and utility areas. Meanwhile, your partner-in-crime plows and pushes back snowbanks, while troubleshooting a stalling engine on the ’86 Chevy. Winter sure is a lot of work!

I recently read that shoveling snow by hand burns something like 400 calories (or more) per hour. Of course, the heavier the snow  the harder you work, and the more calories you burn. Oh, and don’t worry, this probably won’t be the last work out you get before spring. Keep that shovel ready. You’re gonna need a LOT of coffee cake to clear the nest!

Snowy, Sunlit Viburnum trilobum ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenersedenFrosted Viburnum trilobum Along the Sunlit Walkway

Lavender Hills ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.com To the Southwest: Warm, Lavender Hills

March Sunset in the Garden After the Storm ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.com Sunset in the Northwest Gardens, After the Storm

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Dilly Dallying in the Pickled Beans: An Intro to Canning with Jennifer Audette

July 28th, 2012 § 7 comments § permalink

Delicious Dilly Beans

Dilly Beans: Easy Entrance to the World of Canning      Guest Author – Jennifer Audette

Here in New England, a moment exists each growing season when the stars align and your local farmstand, farmer’s market or (if you’re really amazing), own garden suddenly has all the necessary ingredients for the first batch of Dilly Beans. I have the fortune of working in the ‘stand at Walker Farm in Dummerston, VT and this past Thursday it happened. On Wednesday, the fantastic field crew picked seven bushels of beans and then four more the following day.  That means beans coming out our ears for a few days. The first, shy harvest of red chilies appeared in a small bowl, bouquets of dill heads made my mouth water in anticipation of eating pickled things and the garlic has been harvested and waiting patiently for several weeks now.  It’s time to pickle those beans!

As a kid, I spent a lot of time helping my Mom can things like peaches, pears and applesauce. I was a master of slipping skins from blanched peaches; sliding the glistening, sunrise-colored orbs into a mild vinegar bath to keep them from discoloring.  In the autumn, I looked forward to the smell of warm, cooked apples wafting up to meet me as I managed the Foley Food Mill from my perch on the stool. My mom’s palate tends toward the sweet; she’s been known to sprinkle sugar on salad greens deemed too bitter. She doesn’t do hot peppers or vinegar in large quantity and she’s only recently discovered the joys of garlic. Dilly Beans were not part of my childhood canning experience.  But I crave the savory world more than I crave the sweet world and so several years ago, after my Mom had set me up with all the paraphernalia for canning, I found the recipe for Dilly Beans in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and entered my very own world of canning…

Slender, Verdant Beauties, Await Morning Harvest

Home Grown Herbs & Spices: Hard Neck Garlic, Chili Peppers & Dill

Freshly Harvested, Washed & Trimmed Haricots Verts from the Potager

This is where I’m supposed to give you a nice tutorial about making Dilly Beans; a specific recipe, step-by-step instructions and such. Unfortunately, I’m not that kind of person. I’m not very good at specifics and I almost never following directions exactly and I certainly don’t do anything the same way twice. But, if you were here with me, I would be happy to show you how I do it. Side by side, you would help me find eight wide-mouth pint jars in the storage space under the stairs, wiping away cobwebs and hoping no mice scurried out.  You would fill the dishpan with hot, soapy water and then wash the jars, the brand new lids and the old screw caps. Together we would wait a long, long time for the half-full kettle of water to come to a boil, discovering while we waited that I didn’t have enough white vinegar for the recipe. I would send you to the store for that.  Thanks, it’s so nice to have a helper!

I’d want to show you how I organize my workspace so that the jars are being sterilized in the large pot of water on the left front burner, the lids are simmering for 10 minutes (not boiling!) in their own separate pan on a back burner and the pickling liquid is simmering on the other front burner.  We’d remove one jar at a time from the hot water and pack them with the beans I’d prepared the night before (washed and trimmed), garlic cloves, chili peppers and dill. We’d fill the jars to a ¼” from the top with the hot pickling solution, remove any bubbles, wipe the top, slap on a lid and load each one into the canner basket.  Likely, there are much better ways to go about packing jars with garlic, chilies, dill and beans. I’m not very good at it and it takes me way longer than it seems like it should. (Maybe if you were here you would have come up with a more efficient way to stuff all those beans into jars!)  But eventually, all 4 pounds of beans and spices would be nestled into jars and lowered into the canning pot. Once we reached a rolling boil, we’d set the timer for 10 minutes. Tick, tick, tick….ding! After a short rest, we’d use the super-cool jar tongs to remove them from the hot water. Then we’d high-five and tell the cat to clean up the mess while we sat out on the porch toasting our efforts with a cool beverage. I’d give you your very own copy of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and you’d eagerly look through it for your next canning project (balsamic caramelized onions, sweet and spicy pepper relish, bread and butter pickles, tomato sauce, tomatillo salsa, hot peppers for sandwiches, barbecue sauce), knowing how easy it is to preserve the summer’s bounty, once you learn the ropes.

Dilly Beans

Dilly Bean ingredient list*

Ingredients to be Evenly Distributed in Each Jar:

4 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed

8 cloves of garlic

8 small red chilies

8 dill heads

Pickling Solution:

5 cups white vinegar

5 cups water

½ cup pickling salt

*For all the important canning safety basics and full recipe with directions, please take the time to locate a good book from the canning canon and do your homework.  The previously mentioned Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is a very approachable, easy-to-use introduction, full of inspiring recipes. It’s a reasonable $9 or so and you might even find it at your local hardware store along with all the necessary canning supplies. Have fun!

 Today’s guest blogger, the multi-talented writer Jennifer Audette, is author of the always entertaining and often humorous Cozy Toes Blogspot. When not experimenting with canning, baking, cooking, horticulture, entomology or other scientific pursuits, Jennifer can also be found hiking, making music, writing and delivering smiles to her very fortunate friends.

Thank you Jen! xo

Some Great Resources for Learning to Safely Preserve the Harvest…

Putting Food By

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving with 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes

How to Store Your Garden Produce

Tips for Growing and Harvesting Tasty Green Beans

Haricots verts —or French-style filet beans— are slender, deep green and very flavorful. All beans should be picked frequently in mid-summer —daily when hot— to insure they don’t go to seed. For best flavor and texture, harvest beans when they are no thicker than the diameter of a pencil. As with most crops, I think it’s best to pick beans very early in the morning, before the heat of the day. Marigold and Summer Savory —believed to improve the growth of bush beans and deter beetles— are fantastic companion plants for haricots verts. Enrich soil with well rotted compost and provide plants with regular foliar feeding (applying liquid fertilizer to leaves in a spray or shower) of Neptune’s Harvest or fish emulsion to insure strong, healthy plants and a beautiful, tasty crop. Always wash beans thoroughly when harvesting, especially after applying fish emulsion or any fertilizer. Green beans provide their best yield during the first three weeks of harvest. With this in mind, I like to succession plant this crop for a steady supply of tender young beans straight through the killing frost.

Dilly Beans: Easy Entrance to the World of Canning ⓒ 2012 Jennifer Audette. Photographs ⓒ 2012 Jennifer Audette and Michaela Medina for The Gardener’s Eden, as noted. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not use photographs without permission. Thank you! 

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