Sunday, 19 August 2012

Pickles, Pretty Outfits and Plants

Hello everyone, sorry I have been a little MIA lately. This has been a busy two weeks of pickling, making a new costume for our bellydance show last night, practicing the new routine, as well as declaring terms of war on the fruit flies and spider mites that have made themselves at home in my lovely little indoor garden. 

When I looked up how to kill fruit flies it said 1 TBSP of dish soap with 1 Litre of water and pour it into plants as well as spritz over leaves. So far i have been working on this but it doesn't seem to be super effective. :( I can kill a few but as soon as I spray one plant, they scatter from the others. Also the tip I found for spider mites was to make the following solution and spray it on the undersides of the leaves. 

Spider Mite Solution
1 TBSP cloves
1 TBSP cinnamon
2 TBSP Italian seasoning

Add these ingredients to 1 Litre of water and bring to a boil. Take off the burner and add 2-3 cloves of garlic when solution is halfway to being cool. Let tea cool completely. Strain out floaties and then spray on plants. Use treatment every 2-3 days. 

So far both treatments have been a little hit and miss. Does anyone have a good solution for me that doesn't involve chemicals?

On another note, my man and I had a wonderful day of pickling the other weekend here. We went to the farmer's market to get some delicious goodies to preserve. Our goal was to make pickled yellow and green beans, carrots, cucumbers and peppers. Even though it ended up being a pretty fun day our pickling solution was a little off. We used a 60-40 solution of vinegar water together with the pickling spices and garlic. I don't think I will post this recipe since they ended up too acidic. We read online later that a lot of recipes had more of a 50-50 solution. I recommend finding another recipe. Instead, I will post the process. 

Steps for Pickling
1. Choose nice fresh vegetables from the market with no blemishes on them. This will insure that your preserves don't produce harmful botulism while in the jars on the shelf. 
2. Use a boiling water canner to sterilize your jars and screw lids. Sterilize these at a roiling boil for about 10 minutes. 
3. The lid seals should be in a separate pot that is brought to right before boiling point. You do not want these to boil as the rubber seals will be compromised. 
4. Try and do this right before you are going to can your vegetables and keep them in the water until you are ready to use them.
5. Wash and clean your vegetables. Pick out bad ones. Chop if needed. 
6. On another burner boil a solution of the vinegar/water and a satchel of your favourite pickling spices. I like using cheesecloth and twine for this. 
7. Pull jars out of water with a jar lifter. Add a few cloves of garlic to jar and maybe some chilli's if you want it spicy. Pack with vegetables. Make sure vegetables are not within 1" from lid. Fill with vinegar solution. Leave 1/2" space at the top.
8. Wipe the rim dry. (Using a canning wide mouth funnel helps make sure drips don't get everywhere)
9. Use a magnet to pull seals and screws out of water. Put seal on jar. Tighten screw loosely. (Turn until you feel resistance then do one turn after that) Do not tighten too much or the jars will not seal properly!
10. Repeat for all the jars. Put jars in a boiling water canner and boil for 12 minutes. (Remember to add 1 minute on to each 1000 ft you live above sea level. So for example I live in Calgary so I usually boil for about 16 or 17 minutes) You want to make sure that the contents inside can get fully hot in the middle. For Litre size jars I usually leave them for about 20 min. 
11. Pull out of water and let cool on a towel. Do not just put on counter as they might crack while cooling. When cool take off screw tops, check seals for vacuum. Ones that did not seal properly you should put in the fridge and eat right away. (They should not pop in and out.) Dry off seals and put screws back on loosely. Store in a cool dark place. They will last for about a year but keep checking seals. If seals fail then discard contents. 
12. Enjoy!! 
Veggies fresh from the market
Green beans ready to go

Yellow Beans

Cutting the cucumbers for sandwich pickles

Veggies ready to go

Boiling the jars

Tools ready for canning

Canning peppers

Completed jars cooling

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