Strawberry Fields Update!

In a bare 3 weeks our strawberries have gone from this to this!

LOOK! BABY BERRIES!

Both of our varieties are June/Summer bearing varieties, which means technically we’re supposed to pinch off all those baby berries to make the plants put more growth into the plant itself.

We started, but have a 2 year old and a life with jobs and stuff. We’re hoping to get back to it over the next few evenings. We have yet to actually mulch. We’ve been using the disruption method of weed control by tilling in between the rows. Finding good clean straw is more difficult then I had thought it would be.

Well anyway, lots of other stuff going on. We’re getting ready to transition the chicks to the outdoor area and still working on getting out garden in. Its daylight from 4 to almost 9 and there is still not enough time to get everything done.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Update 06222017 – We got the buds all picked off in our lunch break, the day after I published this. Here’s hoping they just go back into vegetative growth and we can put our time to other activities for now.

Until next time, have a wicked good one!

Strawberry Fields Aplenty- well for right now.

 

WE PLANTED STRAWBERRIES!

LOOK! THEY’RE ALREADY GROWING!

We dug out a long trench, lined it with some good garden soil from Maine’s very own Coast Of Maine line, lined them up and down the row and filled them in. We are trying to decide if we want to go the traditional route of straw or if we want to use black garden fabric, as we have a lot of it on hand already.

We planted them over the course of three nights- like literally planted at 8pm and on… at one point I asked for a head lamp for my birthday and not really as a joke.

The third night, Mr Gillis’s cousins, two other MrGilliseseses (??) helped us plant the last 50, and also helped us get some of our pumpkins into the ground.

I’m really excited about this (ok we’re both REALLY EXCITED about this)…. we planted 100 bare root Sparkle(a mid season variety known for its flavor) and 100 bare root Honeoye( a mid/late season type with a long harvest season).

MrGillis even wanted to order another 100 each, because the field was so small once we had them all in, but Johnny’s was already sold out for the season….

So next year, we’re going to go big…. really big. Like 1000 roots big.

For now, I guess we’ll have to be happy planting the Alexandria Strawberry Seeds we bought- this is an Alpine variety which grows double the standard wild berry size.. bonus points for edible flowers!

That’s about that for this one tho.  Until next time, have a wicked good day.

Homesteading Dreams – Building Cold Frames

Here at Gillis Gardens, we have dreams. Some of them are in laborious progress, such as our production kitchen and rainbow flock of egg laying chickens… others are probably unattainable for years yet(my personal favs being a greenhouse within a wallpini for tropical growing or getting into aquaponics and farming our own tilipia) but we have a lot of them.

We believe in that itself. Having dreams, goals… things that you reach for past what you have or know now. None of ours have to do with being rich, or gaining fame. It’s more about pushing our own limits at what we thought we could accomplish between us and our drive. Maybe that can be a blog for another time. Today we are talking about realizing a dream of ours that we’ve had for some time.

Building Cold Frames.

I know, quite the lofty goal there, but cold frames are important for homesteading for a big reason- it is going to extend our planting season by a few months.

From the renovation on the shed, we have a lot of of old windows, random hardware junk and different sized pieces of wood. What better use for all that stuff, then to pair it with some hay bales and bags of dirt to create THIS:

This is just the first one that we threw together real quick. We put the bales up on their sides, layered some hay in so that there was more insulation between our dirt and the cold ground and put a bag of dirt in. Then mrgillis slit the plastic and lined the sides of the hay bales with the extra. Next, he got fancy and put hinges on the windows for easy open access.

But one cold frame wasn’t good enough. We had a truck full of bales and a “malt beverage” into both of us, and it was almost 70 degrees out in April in Maine. This deserved some celebrating and some work. So we rearranged the bales and ended up with three cold frames.

Mrgillis made a neat brace for the windows too. He’s just that thoughtful. Meanwhile, Izzy and I played.

The Next day, it was up in the 60s again, so we planted salad greens and micro greens, because if it works, eff yeah we have fresh produce in our front yard. And if it doesn’t well it wont be long and it will.


So, to cap it off, we spent about 20 bucks on hay, reused a bunch of old windows and hardware instead of trashing them and have the ability to start growing outside about 5 to 6 weeks earlier then in years past… it also will extend our harvest capabilities well into the fall. It was a quick project and gave us a good reason to be out enjoying the fresh air and beautiful Maine spring day.

In fact, it was so quick and easy that MrGIllis is ready to go get another truckload of bales and make 3 more. I’ll post an update as spring moves along.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Update for 04/23/17-


We have 4 cold frames and SPROUTS! Yea!

Update for May 7th 2017

The coldframes are  a rousing success! We have lots of tomatoes, peppers, squash, marigolds, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, leafy greens all sprouting and growing OUTSIDE in MAINE in early friggen MAY.

We are so excited about the possibilities that these cold frames open up for growing fresh food out of season.

Have a wicked good day!

Update 05-29-17 – cold frames are a definite, long lasting success! We have tomatoes and peppers, cukes, pumpkins and a mini salad garden that we’ve been harvesting from for weeks now…. and they are all cold hardened already!

This has been a great first foray into lengthening our grow season, and we’re excited to do this for many years to come. It was great not having to transform a room or closet into a plant nursery for once…. Still lots more to go tho, so until then, have a wicked good day!

Exciting news on the homestead! 

Yesterday, we placed an order with Hoover’s Hatcheries for 15, day old chicks to be shipped to us the week of March 13th!  We are very excited, because CHICKENS and FREE SHIPPING! Our entire order of 15 female chicks, with Mareks vaccinations for all, was 65 bucks and change!

And free shipping! Like, we really cannot get over that… Other hatcheries that sell to Maine charge upwards of $60 for just shipping. And the prices for the chicks are only a bit more. Totally worth it (though, on a side note, the other hatcheries I looked at, Meyer’s  and Murray McMurray, have excellent prices on meat birds, and even with the shipping,so we’ll probably be going with one of those places… I mean check out this Fry Pan Bargain .)

This gives us two weeks to get a brooder set up, and supplies regathered.

So the lowdown on our new chicken breeds-

We are getting a speckled Sussex, a couple Polish, a couple new Amercuanas, an Asian blue, an Amberlink, a golden laced Wyandotte, a Welsummer, a Favorelle, and 4 hatchery choice rare breeds, which could be Silkies or Cochins or Buckeyes, anything considered a rare breed, really… depends on the hatch yield for that day. I couldn’t really make up my mind so I figured hopefully they’ll send me different breeds then what I ordered, and make sure they are cold hardy…. seeing as how they know they are shipping to Maine.

AND the other super exciting news for now, we ordered our seeds from Johnny’s Select Seeds, a Maine company that we really love and feel good supporting with our hard earned dollars. Included in that order, but not limited to- popcorn seed, beets, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, peas, carrots, peppers and STRAWBERRIES. We got one hundred bare root Honeoye plants, one hundred bare root Sparkle plants and 1000 Alexandria seeds. We’ll be receiving the seeds this month, but the Roots won’t be here until may 17th or so. But that just gives us time to amend the soil to their needs! This is going to be an amazing spring.

Otherwise, its off to the daily rigamarole of housework and making pizza for supper.

Until next time, have a wicked good night!

Dill Seed Collection

Dill is an amazingly fragrant, tasty herb that grows prolifically in a lot of different climates. It grows fast and is used in different stages of life for different things. When its just sprouting, baby dill is prized for the taste it lends to crispy dilly beans or pickles. When its mature and has gone to seed its useful as a cooking spice or to use as seed to grow next years harvest.

Dill is super easy to harvest for seed too. all you need is a mature dill plant, scissors, some string and a paper bag.

Boom – mature dill, that because of the beautiful Fall weather we had, is actually sprouting more flowers.

 

Flowering dill always kinda reminds me of fire works.

With this plant I’ll only be cutting off the stems with the mature seeds.

sam_0514

 

Once the seeded flower heads are gathered, tie them into a bouquet and put them seed side down in your paper bag.

Tie your paper bag shut with the stems sticking out a little, giving you a little handle.

Now your ready to shake, rattle and roll- literally! The seeds, as long as they are ready, should come off pretty easily as long as you are pretty vigorous in your shaking, and rolling of the bag, either on the counter or between your hands. Just don’t be so excited that you bust your bag.

sam_0528

After your seeds have been shaken loose of the stems, its time to store them until next seasons planting or for use as a spice.

sam_0532

 

Yeah- that’s just one of the rubbermaid containers. I label the top with the seed and year and done. Use within a year.

Until another day, have a wicked one, right.

Garden update 09.14.15 

So I know I promised a post about apple picking, but they aren’t as ripe as we thought they were. So for now I’m going to brag about our wonderful no hands garden.

 It’s been a bountiful year here at Gillis Gardens. So far we have pounds of green beans, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and zucchini in the freezer. We’ve canned tons of jam, pickles, relish and had a fantastic run at maple syrup. We enjoyed fresh salads and are looking forward to canning tomatoes, making sauce and salsa. We’ve had the best pepper season ever, and have dozens of assorted hot peppers drying. I’m making jalapeño poppers today- from peppers we grew!

We’ve had a long summer considering what a rough start we had this year. Winters are long and cold in Maine, but this last one seemed to hit us with a vengeance. As we turn the corner into autumn, we are reminding ourselves to enjoy the craziness of harvest- it’s already getting dark by 7:30… It really is only a hop skip and a jump til thanksgiving. 

Our zucchinis are coming in strong for now

  

Future poppers – recipe to follow sometime this winter I promise

  

These peppers are called Chocolate Bell Peppers, available thru Johnny’s Select Seeds

      

Another shot of our Chocolate Peppers- they turn brown as they ripen

 

This is one of our hot peppers- I think they look like little red lipsticks

  

Just one of our Serrano Pepper plants.

  

Oops! We really don’t like letting our zucchinis get this big, but what can you do?

  

A few onions- we only planted a small bed of yellows this year.

  

We only got the one watermelon to make it this year, but for no effort we’re happy.

  

One of our three cantalopes

  

A record year for our delicata honey boat squash.

  

We use marigolds to deter pests like potato beetles. Plus they’re a pretty addition to the garden.

  

Our days haul- peppers, squash, cucumbers, onions

  

The tomatoes we’ve picked over the last couple days.

  

These beauties will be the subject of a later post

 

Well I’ve got zucchini to shred and freeze, cucumbers to cut for more pickles, and a baby, house, chickens and kitty to care for. 

 

Izzybug and Pepperkitty

 
My next post is all about apples! We’ll probably my next 4 posts, actually. Apples are a big deal in this house. 

So until that time, have a wicked good day.

Putting the vanilla in… Pickles?

You might have to suspend belief in all that is pickling recipes in order to follow me on this. But suspend you must and following me is recommended because these pickles are NOT to be missed. 

I cannot claim credit for this recipe. I found it online at a garden forum about 5 years ago. The forum itself was even older then that. It was a discussion about lemon cucumbers, which at that point, was my newest obsession. Everyone was throwing out recipes that were for pickles and relishes… They were troubleshooting about the best way to grow them in order to get the most out of their bushes… It was a lemon cuke lovers meeting of minds and it was amazing. 

I read thru the pages of that forum like your average rabid canner. It didn’t take long and I had found it. The recipe. The one I just HAD to try. And I am going to do the right thing and pass it on. 

If you don’t believe me, make a half batch or even less. This brine covered 4 quarts plus 8 pints worth of cucumbers with some left over. That’s a lot of pickles to make if you’re unsure. But if you like the idea of a sweet pickle with lots of flavor punched in, this is it. Take a flying leap. 

French Vanilla Pickles

  • A big bowl of small pickling cukes. 
  • 9 cups sugar
  • 8 cups white vinegar 
  • 1 Tbsp canning salt
  • 1 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 Tbsp pickling spice
  • 1/4 cup vanilla
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 2 to 4 cinnamon sticks per jar 
  • 3/4 tsp alum per pint, 1 1/2 tsp per quart

As always, the best pickles begin with clean, firm cucumbers

First things first – clean your cucumbers thoroughly. I use my soft veggie brush and cold water. 

For extra crispness, put cut cucumbers on an ice bath in your fridge for a few hours

  

Get a large bowl and put a whole tray of ice in the bottom. Once I cut the cukes into smaller pieces they’ll go into the fridge on an ice bath for at least 5 hours. 

Goodbye blossom butt and stem

  

Trim the ends of  each cucumber. Then cut the cucumber into quarters. 

Cut the small ones into quarters for a mini treat

  

I cut the larger ones in half lengthwise before cutting those pieces into quarters. 

These are all acceptable sizes for pickling lemon cucumbers

  

Anything larger then the cucumbers picture above are chicken food in this household.

The large ones can be cut in half first for smaller pickle bites

  

These little guys make great snacks at family gatherings

  

Once you’ve got the cucumbers all cut up and on ice, seriously put them in the fridge and leave them alone for a while. After you’ve given them their ice bath, you’ll want to give them another quick rinse with cold water. 
 

Maybe I’m odd but that is such a pretty sight to me

  

Now you’ll need a large pot for this brine, the recipe makes a lot. 

Supplies are gathered!

On a medium heat, combine the 9 cups sugar, 8 cups white vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice (1/2 a jumbo lemon), 1/4 vanilla and 1 tbsp of canning salt. . 

Yes you really do need that much vanilla and lemon juice.

  

Mix this well, but be aware that it will stay cloudy for awhile. 

We use this tea holder for our spices. Some of the leafy stuff escapes, but not much

  

Next, in either a tea ball like ours or some cheesecloth, put the 1 Tbsp of cloves and 1 tbsp of pickling spices. Drop this into the brine mixture right from the get go. 

The sugar dissolves as it gets closer to its boiling point

  

Keep this going on medium heat, stirring pretty much constantly. Because of the high sugar content it will scorch quickly, so keep an eye on it. 

Getting closer to the boil


 

Once it gets to a boil, keep it there for five minutes. 

While its boiling is a good time to pack your jars and relax your lids. Remember, relax your lids in simmering water, not boiling. If the water is to hot, it can actually ruin the rubber seal.

For every pint, we use 2 cinnamon sticks, as many cucumber pieces as I can squeeze in and 3/4 tsp alum. In every quart we use 4 cinnamon sticks and 1  1/2 tsp alum. 

Our pickle packing station

Once the jars are all packed and the brine has boiled for 5 minutes, it’s time to fill them with the liquid. After all your jars have been filled, cover with your lids, secure with your rims and process in your hot water bath canner for 5 minutes. 
After the jars come out of the water bath canner, set them on a towel, covered with another towel for 24 hours. If any don’t seal, put them in the fridge. 

I like to let my pickles stew in their juices for at least a month before eating. My dad usually waits 2 or 3 days. My way makes for more flavor saturation, my dad’s way means yea pickles. 

  
So that’s that for this blog. We still have lots of pickles to make, but now it’s apple season here in Maine. And that is what’s going on for next time. It’s time for another Maine adventure, and it’s about to get real. Real foragie. Because we don’t pay for apples. Nope, we go Apple hunting. 

But that’s for next time. 

Until then, have a wicked good day. 

Who doesn’t love a pickle?

This years garden has been an amazing adventure in the hands off approach. My dear husband put the plants in the ground, laid out weed fabric and hay. Then he weeded out some rows once a few weeks after planting. Otherwise, we’ve just been to busy to do anything else until the last few weeks. And the last few weeks have been harvesting and processing green beans, zucchini, peppers, and now CUCUMBERS! 

I say this with capital letters because it means, PICKLES! Also worthy of capital letters. 

Today’s recipe is for Dill Pickles. We had a lot of different size cukes, so we are doing spears and sandwich slices. 

We also have a mix of Boston picklers and lemon cucumbers. If you haven’t ever had a lemon cucumber, you need to find some. Just make sure they are small. Like the diameter of a quarter to half dollar, no more. And white to light yellow in color. Not dark yellow. They get very seedy and very bitter once the get any larger. But if you get them small and yellow, they are sweet and firm – great for pickles and eating fresh. 

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-9033-lemon.aspx#

Here’s a link to a Maine seed company that we love. When we go to the MOFGA Common Grounds Fair in a few weeks they’ll have some wonderful displays. 

This recipe yielded 8 quarts. We ended up with 4 jars of spears, 3 jars of slices and one jar of mixed. We don’t waste a pickle oppurtunity in this house. 

Dill & Garlic Pickles

  • 10 cups water
  • 6 cup vinegar
  • Lots of Fresh dill enough for a good 2 to 3 large fronds per jar
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, per jar- cut in half 
  • 2/3 cup Canning salt
  • 4-6 Black peppercorns per jar
  • 1/2 tsp alum per jar
  • Optional – 1 tsp mustard seed per jar 
  • A big old bowl full of pickling cukes of your choice

So early in the day, is when you want to cut up your cucumbers. This is so you can ice bath them for a few hours before pickling them. It’s an old wives tip, to supposedly help keep the cukes crisp threw the canning process. We don’t know if it helps or not because we always do it. Better to be crisp, then soggy in our opinion. 

These are Lemon Cucumbers, we love them but you have to pick them small.

I make sure to always use a nice sharp paring knife to cut up pickles. For sandwich slices, cut off the blossom end. Then just keep cutting slices in your desired thickness. I cut my slices fairly thick. I like the crunch. 

We’ve got two cuts we’re doing today for dill pickles. I love dill slices on a cold turkey sandwich, but spears go nice with meals.

When cutting spears, first cut off the blossoms and stem ends. Then, cut the cucumber in half lengthways. Now, placing the cucumber cut sides down on the board slice it in half, lengthways again. Take each of those quarters, and slice them in half lengthways one more time, leaving you with 8 spears. 

To make the brine, simply grab your large pot and mix together the water, vinegar and canning salt. Get this to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally. This mixture doesn’t take long to boil so you want to get your quart jars, rims and lids cleaned and sanatized pretty quickly. Also, don’t forget to get your lids relaxed in some simmering water. 

We got our fresh dill destemmed, our garlic cloves cleaned and halved and our spices ready and waiting

Now it’s time to take one of your nice warm, sanatized quart jars and pack it full.First goes in the dill, garlic halves, peppercorns and if you’re feeling plucky, the mustard seed. Now, pack those jars full of cucumber slices. And when you think you couldn’t possibly fit another, try anyway. Just don’t let any stick up above the fill line. It’s important that your brine cover the entire cucumber. 

Put your dill, garlic, peppercorns and, if you want, mustard seed.

Once your jars are all packed full of your spices, herbs and cukes, it’s time for your pickle crimping agent. We use Alum, but I know other pickle crisps work just as well. We just have a readily available source of cheap alum. 

Packed tight with some alum sprinkled on top.

  
Since Mr. Gillis and I can together, one of us fills the jars with pickles, while the other one fills it with brine, and covers it. If you were working by yourself, I would recommend filling your jars with all your spices and cuckes first and then doing your brine. But really, do what is comfortable for you. Pickling should be fun… Hot, sweaty, work-like fun, but fun. 

I love how the lemon cucumber looks up against the glass.

Now that all your jars are filled with your cucumbers, brine and spices, and are all closed up, it’s time to process them in your hot water bath canner for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, pull the jars out, set them on a towel and leave them alone for 24 hours. 

After your waiting period is over, if any of your lids didn’t seal, store in the fridge. Otherwise these pickles should sit for at least  a month before eating, even tho that doesn’t stop my dad from digging right in. 

 

We are still snacking on last years pickles while these go hang out for a few months.

 
There it is, our dill pickle recipe. It’s pretty simple, but we think that it really highlights the dill flavor. 

With such a large cucumber harvest we’ve already done a bread and butter pickle, a sweet chili relish and these pickles. Tonight, we make a special recipe that we cannot take credit for. I’ve read that it’s an old French recipe… It is a lemon cucumber recipe but we’ve used regular picklers. 

All I know is that it is a different, but delightful pickle. And it’s my next blog post- but you’ll have to wait till then to find out.  

Until that time, have a wicked good day. 

    If you give a girl a zucchini, she makes a loaf of bread….

    Give this girl a garden full of them and she’ll have zucchini bread all year long. 

    The trick to keeping your gardens abundant zucchini harvest is to freeze it. But, unfortunately, it’s not as if you can just stick whole zucchinis in the freezer and walk away. Nope. You need to shred those suckers down. 

    My favorite zucchini recipe only requires one cup of shredded zucchini, so I will be freezing my summer squash in one cup portions. I use my handy 1.25 cup Tupperware containers. This will give our shredded squash room to expand as it freezes.

    For this project, get together the following

    • As much zucchini as you, your Tupperware and your freezer can handle at once. These six yeilded 7 cups of shredded squash.
    • Your one cup, freezer safe, comes with a lid, containers.
    • A large bowl
    • A cheese grater that has a small shred option
    • A one cup measuring cup.

      Supplies have been gathered

      First things first, get you zucchinis super clean. You don’t skin these before shredding, so be sure to clean them very well under cold water with a soft bristled veggie brush. We got this one at Walmart years ago and it’s perfect for delicately skinned veggies.

      I use a soft bristled brush to keep from skinning up the zucs

        

      Next, cut off the blossom end of you squash. 

      Using a paring knife, cut off the blossom end… or as Mr.Gillis and I call it, The Butt

        

      Now, shred that zucchini! I like this grater because the small holes are jagged all around, which makes it great for breaking down seeds and skin.

      This is zucchini number 1 down, and it only took about 3 minutes.

        

      Now, once you’ve shredded your squash, start ladling one cup into each of your freezer containers.  I love these little Rubbermaid ones. Well, I love all my Rubbermaid, so it’s a matter of partiality.
        

      I dont worry about getting exactly one cup- as close as possible is good enough

        

      Once the zucchini is in the freezer container, cover it tightly and tap it gently so it’s nice and compacted. Air bubbles are not your friend.

      Make sure to leave room for expansion as it freezes

        

      Three cups of shredded zucchini, ready to become squashsicles

        
      Make room in your freezer and let them sit for at least 24 hours. I’ve gone as far as 48 hours before. 

      This is my second round of freezing zucchini

       
       Once the squash is completely frozen, it’s time to get your Tupperware back by bagging it. If all you have is zip locks, that will be fine short term. But I cannot stress enough how amazing a food saver system is. We found ours for really cheap but we’d easily invest in one at full price knowing now how much money it’s saved us. 
       

      Behold, the squashsicle

        

      When you pull the Tupperware out, the covers might be kinda stuck. A quick fix for this is a bowl of slightly warm water. Dip the container in real quick. Not only will the top come right off, the squashsicle will slid right out as well. 

      Just dunk it in the water real quickly. Any longer then a few seconds and you’ll start melting your hard work.

        

      The top will pop right off at this point

        

      Slid your frozen zucchini, container and all right into your freezer bag.

      I find it easier to deals with if I put the container in right side up, and then flip the bag. I tap the Tupperware and the block falls right out. 

      Place your frozen zucchini in your freezer bag right side up

        

      Flip over the entire bag.

        

      Carefully remove the tupperware container

        

      Get the container out of the bag and close it up. With our food saver sealed bags we’ve kept frozen zucchini shreds for up to the next planting season. 

      Our trusty food saver, hard at work.

        

      One cup of perfectly shredded zucchini, frozen and ready to store for months in our chest freezer

       

      So far we’ve frozen and stored 14 cups of zucchini. In the middle of a cold Maine winter, it’s amazing to grab a block of this stuff, thaw it out over night in the fridge and make fresh zucchini bread. It’s a little bit of the harvest, in the middle of the grey. 

      Well that’s it- the key to keep all that extra zucchini that your neighbors won’t take anymore.

      Until next time, have a wicked good evening.

      Putting the Dill in DillyBean!

      The beans are in! This is a REALLY happy time of year for us, because it means DILLY BEANS! And we like them spicy. And dilly. It took me about a hour to pick our beautiful bag of beans. We planted two huge rows this year, mostly a bush bean called the provider. They certainly live up to their name as long as you keep picking them. 

       

      Green Bean Jungle

        

      Baby Beans!

       

      We also planted a burgundy bean for the first time this year. These are officially my favorite things to photograph right now. Even though there aren’t any burgundy beans in with the dilly beans, I couldn’t resist putting these up. They are about a week behind the providers. 

       

      Burgundy String Bean

        

      I’ve always thought bean blossoms were so pretty

        

      The beans will turn purple as they mature. they are supposed to keep their color even after cooked.

       

      Ok, so enough of the garden. It’s time to make some Dilly Beans!

      Now, making dilly beans, or any pickle really, is about ratios. We start our recipe based on 2 pounds of prepped beans. When we made them last night, we actually had 3 pounds, so we adjusted for that. 

      You will need 

      • quart jars, bands and lids- we prefer wide mouth jars for pickling
      • your water bath canner
      • A big pot for the pickling mixture
      • Jar grabber

      For the pickling liquid, based on the two pounds of beans, you’ll have to go go get yourself the following:

      • 4 cups white vinegar
      • 4 cups water
      • 3 tablespoons canning/pickling salt

      So this is your pickling mixture. Get your big pot out, and mix these all together. Since we had three pounds of prepped beans we used 6 cups each water and vinegar, and 4.5 tablespoons canning salt.  

      For packing the jars, you’ll need 

      • Lots of fresh dill, about 6 good size sprigs per jar
      • Garlic cloves, cut in halves, 2 per jar
      • Dried hot peppers of your choice, 2 per jar
      • 1 tsp of crushed red peppers per jar
      • Your beans, ends trimmed off

       

      My bean cutting setup consists of my beans, a bowl for trimmed dilly beans, a bowl for beans to small or irregular for pickling, and my compost bucket.

        

      The larger beans are perfect for pickling, the smaller ones are great for blanching and freezing for winter meals

        

      Beans, ends trimmed and then cut to size. The beans cut into thirds on the other side of the board are for blanching and freezing as regular beans

        

      We trim the stems off our dill, so it takes up less room in the jar.

        

      Everything gathered, prepped and ready to go. We use two types of chili peppers, that’s why they are seperate from eachother. We put one of each in each jar.

       

      Now that you have gathered everything and gotten it all prepped, it’s time to make sure your jars, bands and lids are cleaned and ready to go. Also, it is time to get your vinegar mixture boiling. It really won’t take long, so make sure you have everything else pretty well set up and ready. 

      Once your pickling mixture is close to a rolling boil, it’s time to start packing your jars. First goes in a pepper, one tsp of crushed red peppers, 4 sprigs of dill, and two pieces of your cut up garlic.  

      There is something wonderful about a ball jar getting ready to be filled with the fruits of your labor

      Now, pack that jar full of your cut green beans. The more beans you can fit, the less liquid you need. You want them packed in there pretty tightly so they don’t float around. Once your beans are in, throw in another chili pepper and another 2 sprigs of dill. After your jar is full of all the goodies, it’s time to fill it with your boiling pickling mixture. Make sure to tap the side of the jar to encourage any air pockets to float up to the top and burst. 

      Beans packed in, ready to be transformed

      Clean the rim of the jar and wipe the rim and the lid dry. Put on the lid, secure with a band and move onto the next jar. Once all your beans are gone, put your jars in your waiting canner and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner and place somewhere undisturbed for 12 hours. Check to see if the lids sealed and if any of them didn’t seal, put the jar in your fridge immediately. 

      Three pounds of beans equaled out to 8 wide mouth quarts of dilly beans and a nice sized bag of beans for the freezer as well. 

      So that’s it- our highly coveted dilly bean recipe. We’ve been making these for years, and boy do they go well with a nice cold beer. We let them sit for at least a month before cracking open the jar. You can wait longer, but I wouldn’t open them any sooner.

      Now that that’s covered, I will let you know, the next blog is special to my heart. Otherwise, I am leaving it a surprise. But I will hint that you’ll need blueberries again…

      Until that time, have a wicked good day.