Thursday, July 28, 2011

Love Green Tomatoes? Try This

I love the tang of Fried Green Tomatoes . . . but since I’m still trying to lose weight, I’ve done some experimenting and have learned to love them in many other ways, too.

First off, let me share the best way to freeze them for frying later on . . . wash, slice and bread them as you would for frying then place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight or until solid. Once frozen, then you can layer them with waxed paper in between in container or bags and seal them. Use only what you need and fry them frozen rather than thawing first.

Another way to preserve them is to pickle them. Simply follow any recipe for dill pickles and add a small hot pepper to each quart for a little kick if you want to. My family loves dilled green tomatoes and dilled green beans as well.

Now let’s move onto to other ways of enjoying them. One of my favorite summer time dishes is okra, but again, trying to lose weight and eating breaded and fried veggies don’t mix. I spray a large skillet with cooking spray, drizzle in a little olive oil and add a sliced onion or coarsely chopped onion and cut okra. Stir fry for about 5 minutes and then add green tomato wedges. They are done when they begin to get soft (about another 3 to 5 minutes). Sprinkle with kosher salt and mmm, mmm.

We also enjoy them prepared in the same manner with any number of other fresh vegetables . . . cabbage, onions and other veggies turn sweet after cooking and we love the tart tang of green tomatoes. Try adding zucchini, yellow summer squash, eggplant, a little corn cut off the cob . . . whatever you like and enjoy your summer bounty.

Since this is now our preferred method of eating the tomatoes when I canned them earlier today, I diced some and cut some into wedges. I also canned a few of the slices for breading and frying later. They are so tasty because the salt cooks all the way through them.

Canned Green Tomatoes

To can them, follow these easy instructions:

Wash and cut them as desired and fill clean jars, leaving at least half an inch of headspace. Add 1 tsp. canning or pickling salt (or kosher) per quart and ½ tsp. for pints. Pressure cook for 5 minutes at 5 lbs. of pressure.  Enjoy them all winter long.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Freezer Slaw & Frozen Cucumber Salad

If you have been blessed with an abundance of cabbage and cucumbers, here is a quick and easy way to preserve them for use all winter. Both turn out crispy and crunchy and keep well in the refrigerator after thawing. Simply thaw and serve when you need them.


1 medium head cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, grated
1 green pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 T. canning salt

Combine these ingredients and let sit for one hour.
In the meantime, bring to a boil the following ingredients:
1 cup vinegar
¼ c. water
1 tsp. celery seed
2 cups sugar

Let the mixture cool. Squeeze any excess liquid from the vegetable mixture.
Pour the dressing over the slaw and stir to blend well. Place in plastic freezer
containers or freezer bags, leaving headspace for expansion, seal and freeze.


About 2 quarts of cucumbers, sliced thin (peel or leave the skin on)
2 large onions, sliced into rings
2 Tbs. pickling salt
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup cider vinegar

Heat the sugar and vinegar to dissolve. Let cool
Place the cucumbers, onions and salt in a large container and mix to coat. Let stand in
refrigerator for a couple of hours (or overnight). Drain well. Pour the sugar/vinegar mixture over the vegetables and mix well. Put in freezer containers, leaving enough headspace for expansion.

These keep indefinitely in the refrigerator once they have thawed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In a Pickle?

   Cucumbers are plentiful this time of the year but they are also readily available in most grocery stores year round. Our family has decided that for the most part we prefer refrigerator pickles. I will include two recipes for them at the end of this post.

There are four basic kinds of pickles: freshpack, fermented, fruit and relishes.

Here are the basic ingredients for successful pickling:

VEGETALBES & FRUITS: Fully ripened (but not overly so) and the fresher the better.
   Always remove 1/16 inch slice from the blossom end to avoid soft pickles.
   For the best results, try to pickle produce within 24 hours of picking.
   Cucumbers are the most common item to pickle, but avoid using supermarket ones that have    
   been waxed . . .

SALT: NEVER use table salt. It has additives that will not create good results. Salt is a
   Necessary part of the fermentation process. ALWAYS use CANNING or PICKLING salt    
   or Kosher SALT. These are free of additives. Always use the amount called for in the

SUGAR: Use white, granulated sugar unless another variety is specified in the recipe.       
     Sugar substitutes can only be used in recipes specifically calling for them.

VINEGAR: Never dilute vinegar unless the recipe calls for it. Always use a good quality    
   vinegar with at least 5% acidity (or 50 gram strength). Either cider or white vinegar can  
   be interchanged in most recipes.

SPICES: The fresher the spices the better. If you use dried rather than fresh, remember    
   that ¼ teaspoon dried equals 1 teaspoon fresh. For dill, 1 head of fresh dill equals 1  
   teaspoon dill seed or dillweed.

FIRMING AGENTS: Alum or pickling lime (calcium hydroxide) are still called for in some  
   recipes, however, be careful using the lime and make sure that you thoroughly rinse the
   pickles before processing them. Using many of today’s recipes, you will obtain good, crisp
   pickles without the use of either.

   Remember when pickling to use the correct amounts of salt, sugar and vinegar for best results. Cutting corners to accommodate diabetics or low sodium diets can drastically alter the results.

   Pickle making can be done in a few hours or a few weeks, depending on the recipe and the method used.

   My family is especially partial to refrigerator pickles. They can be made up and stored in an extra refrigerator (like the one in our garage) if you are short on refrigerator space in your kitchen. I often use gallon jars and these pickles will actually keep very well for several months (often for six or more). Since there are just two of us now, we prefer this method as we don’t eat as many pickles as we did when raising our family.

   For both recipes, prepare your jars and have them ready. You can use any size you want or transfer them to smaller jars after they have ‘pickled’.


6 ½ cups water
3 ¼ cups white vinegar
2/3 cup pickling salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 peas sized piece of alum (abt. ¼ tsp.)
Several large heads of fresh dill

Wash the cucumbers well and cut if desired. In the bottom of a one gallon jar, place the garlic, alum and dill.
Combine the water, vinegar and salt, stirring until the salt dissolves.
Pack the jar with cucumbers (but not too tightly)
Cover with the brine mixture. Cover the jar and set in the sun for two days.
Refrigerate and enjoy. These are very much like the Claussen Pickles found in the coolers in grocery stores.


1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. salt (use Kosher or pickling salt)
1 tsp. celery seed
¼ tsp. turmeric
1 cup raw onion slices
6 cups cucumber slices

Combine the first five ingredients, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved.
Fill jars with cucumbers and onion slices. Pour the brine over them. Let sit overnight at room temperature. Then refrigerate. These keep very well for a length of time. As you use
Up the pickles and onions, you can replace them in the brine for several times before needing to mix up a new batch of the brine.

 * I plan to experiment using various amounts of Splenda in the Bread & Butter Pickle recipe and will let you know if the results are good.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Canning Tomatoes!

If you have been blessed with a bumper harvest of tomatoes, what is your favorite way to preserve them? In the past I have made dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, frozen tomatoes (they are not recommended however), catsup, tomato soup, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce and tomato juice.

What we need most in our storage at this point is canned tomatoes. We enjoy them in soup, chili, many other recipes and just to open up a jar and serve it as a side dish for lunch or dinner.

Here are the basics of canning tomatoes and they are one of the easiest things to put up:

1 – Prepare your canning jars and place 1 teaspoon canning/Kosher salt in each quart jar or ½ teaspoon in each pint jar.

2 – Wash and sort them and only use fully ripened tomatoes for best results.

3 – Place in them a heat resistant container (I usually just put a stopper in my stainless steel     kitchen sink)

4 – Cover them boiling water for about one minute. Leaving them in the hot water any longer will cook them before you are ready for that step.

5 – Using a long spoon, release the sink stopper to drain the water.

6 – Replace the stopper and cover them with cold tap water. This stops the cooking and makes them cool enough to handle comfortably.

7 – Peel and core the tomatoes and cut as desired (whole, quartered or diced) and pack tightly into the jars. Pack them tightly and press out any air pockets.

8 – Wash the top of the jars and place wet lids on them. Place the rings on them and tighten firmly.

9 – Process for the times below:

Pressure canner:
Quarts and Pints - 5 lbs. pressure for 10 minutes

Water bath: (Make sure there is at least one inch of water over the tops of the jars)
Quarts and Pints – 30 minutes of full boiling.

Tomato juice is canned for the same times.
My apologies for forgetting to take pictures of each step along the way.  Today, I had enough extra tomatoes to make up a batch of fresh spaghetti sauce for supper.