I Can Can. Can You?

You know all those veggies in the previous post? Well they have to go somewhere, right? Mostly, they’re going to my stomach, which is super happy about that, but one person can only eat so many veggies…

Besides being frozen, dehydrated, put in recipes, given to the dog as treats, and given away, I have taught myself (with much help from others and from a step-by-step book) the art of canning.

My Mom and I actually went in on this project together. We acquired all of the supplies (minus a pressure cooker) and the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. I read and learned…and then still asked for help because I am a disaster in the kitchen when it comes to cooking or preparing food at all.

For our first trick, we turned cucumbers into dill pickles. This actually was not that difficult to do. We went with a kosher pickle recipe and added a few things to it. All the ingredients, minus the spices, were from local farmer’s markets. The cucumbers were from my own garden.

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Washing off the cucumbers

Scruba, scruba, scruba

Scruba, scruba, scruba

Fresh dill from the farmer's market

Fresh dill from the farmer’s market

Garlic, bay leaf, 1/2 serrano pepper, and spices into each pickle jar

Garlic, bay leaf, 1/2 serrano pepper, and spices into each pickle jar

Klondike helped

Klondike helped

Heating jars, lids, ingredients

Heating jars, lids, ingredients

In they go

In they go

The final product

The final product

Mmmmm pickles

Mmmmm pickles

We ended up making 8 pints of pickles, which will be ready to open NEXT WEEK!!! I’m very excited to try them and see how they turn out!

In a frenzy of pickling excitement, we also made zucchini relish!! All of the zucchinis were from my garden.

IMG_0745

Chopped bell peppers, onion, and shredded zucchini

The spices

The spices

Ingredients

Ingredients

Toss everything in together

Toss everything in together

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Simmer

Can it! And there you have it: Zucchini relish

Can it! And there you have it: Zucchini relish

End of Summer BBQ anyone??

Canning is actually easier than I thought it would be….but I also haven’t done anything extremely difficult. I can still cross this off of my Summer Bucket List as my new learned skill.

*Pats self on back*

 

Getting cultured

For my first trick, I decided to do something that anyone can do, and that almost everyone loves. Pretty cool, huh? I say almost everyone because there are a select few who choose to be difficult and refuse to admit that they, in fact, could love this one particular thing. You know who you are. Either that, or they’re lactose intolerant. But that’s hardly an excuse.

I’m talkin’ YOGURT y’all! -insert fake Southern accent for effect-

That’s right. Yogurt. -or yoghurt OR yoghourt for those looking to broaden their dairy spelling repertoire…you’re welcome- Calcium, protein AND tiny live creatures all in one concoction?! Yes please.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, and have zero good excuse for not trying it before. Now, most people who are trying out something for the first time may play it safe and make a small batch to see if they know what they’re doing. Those people, they’re smart. Boring, even. I like to think I’m adventurous. So, upon deciding how much yogurt to make for my very first batch I threw caution to the wind and opted for a reasonable half gallon. Because, WHO DOESN’T NEED A HALF GALLON OF YOGURT IN THEIR HOUSE AT ALL TIMES?! That’s what I thought. No one. See my next post for the best way to give yogurt as gifts. Just kidding. Kinda.

The magical elves behind Google threw this little number at me when I searched for yogurt recipes, so I went with it. Step-by-step directions with minimal supplies. They know me so well.

Join me on my yogurt-making adventure:

The first step with making anything cooking related is to have a kitchen. Duh. The reason I bring this up, though, is because of the size of my kitchen — It’s about equivalent to a nice walk-in pantry.

My Kitchen

My Kitchen

Stove. Sink. That’s it. Literally. Zero counter space. No dishwasher, garbage disposal, and barely room for a coffee pot -which is most certainly a necessity: what else would I drink with my granola and homemade yogurt?!- But I do have one. So on to Step 2.

This is essentially what I did: Boil water in a pot. Easy enough. -dad, stop laughing.- Pour a half gallon of milk into a smaller pot (however much milk you start with should be how much yogurt you will make). Put milk pot into water pot creating a double boiler. Raise milk to 185°F and keep at that temp for 30 mins stirring constantly. After 30 mins, put milk pot in an ice bath to cool it down to 110°F, stirring occasionally. Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of plain yougurt in cooled milk, stir, and you’re done! Almost.

Materials

Materials

Heated Milk

Heated Milk

Cooling Milk

Cooling Milk

Adding Yogurt

Adding Yogurt

It needs be covered and sit for 7 hours on a heating pad at medium temp. Well, I don’t have a heating pad, so I got those creative juices flowing and…Voilà! Cookie sheet + bath towel + stove = heating pad. Right?

Heating Pad

Heating Pad

WRONG.

Heating Pad Aftermath

Heating Pad Aftermath

Not only did it ruin the towel, which just happened to be my roommates, it also ruined my cookie sheet and kept the milk mixture too hot. -at least in retrospect I think that’s what happened-

Yogurt?

Yogurt?

After 7 hours, the milk mixture is supposed to be thicker and smell, well, like yogurt. Mine was not. But, I figured maybe it would thicken in the refrigerator over night. Oh, wishful thinking, you silly bastard.

 

I practically skipped to my refrigerator this morning, looking forward to a delicious breakfast with my homemade yogurt. With a watering mouth and a hopeful heart, I opened my container to examine the delicousness.

Deliciousness fail. Despite all my finger crossing, the yogurt did not thicken up over night. It stayed the consistency of milk with a faint yogurt smell. That’s right, ladies and gents, I successfully made 7-hour sour milk. Please try to contain your shock and awe, applause, rolling of the eyes, laughter or any Ginger references. Just kidding. I welcome all of these.

Yogurt Fail

Yogurt Fail

After putting back together my shattered ego, I’m going to try a different recipe sometime this week. I will be a yogurt-making virtuoso. You just wait. Update to follow.

Until then, these are some key lessons to take away from this experience:

  1. Do try to make yogurt
  2. Don’t make your own ‘heating pad’
  3. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t
  4. Just to reiterate, DO NOT put towels on the stove insert common sense jokes here
  5. If you get confused about what not to do, re-read this post

If anyone has any tips, tricks or good recipes, please leave a comment. For now, I’m going to enjoy a nice bowl of cereal with milk….oh wait.