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Summer's Bounty - a question & answer forum for all things pickled, canned, frozen, dried & whatnot.

Let this be a place to brag, share recipes, new tips & techniques or just ask a question about your latest method of putting fruit & veggies in a good place until the cold winds blow. Pictures are the best form of bragging...so shine the light just right a let us take a look!

I will start off by asking a couple of dumb questions...(no comments on that please)...

Split peas - how do they get split - mechanically or just grow that way?

Watermelons - how in the heck do you pick a good one? I have thumped, slapped, looked for yellow bellies & brown pig tails & still come up with a so so one. What am I doing wrong? Has anybody froze watermelon for later use?

Pint & a half canning jars - bought some & still trying to get used to their tall shape....what is your take on them? Are they working out for you?

Steam canners - is anybody using them?

Quick pickling - would like some basic methods or recipes for quick pickling fruits & veggies.

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  1. Sorry, no good answers to your question....And my watermelon selecting is hit or miss, but I do want to freeze some chunks as I have a watermelon margarita recipie I want to try!

    But great thread and timely as I was canning strawberry jam tonight and about to post a question. So in the desire to not waste, I kept all the foam skimmed from the berries, there was quite a bit and has now started to separate a bit as I probably got some jam in there as well....so, just wondering if anyone keeps / uses their foam and for what? It tasted interesting, kind of like strawberry fluff! Thinking I will stir it into my oatmeal or yogurt.

    Looking forward to reading more, thanks for starting!

    7 Replies
    1. re: geminigirl

      Strawberry fluff will be good on anything, vanilla ice cream, mixed in sparkling water, blended up with other fresh fruit, spooned over a slice of pound cake. In fact, I think it is a good idea to bake a couple of pound cakes & have them in the freezer for things just like your strawberry fluff. Just cut off a slice & put the rest of the cake back in the freezer.

      Well, we will just sit here & hope that someone will come along to enlighten us on all things watermelon....a watermelon margarita sure would help us be comfortable while we wait.

      1. re: geminigirl

        I use the "fluff" to make a strawberry syrup for cakes, drinks, pancakes, muffins, etc. I just skim it off and into a small pot and boil it down a bit more until it becomes syrup (sometimes I do end up adding a tad more sugar, depending on how sweet it is and how much I have--a bit more sugar keeps me from having to boil it as far down).

        There is no such thing as a ripe or even decent watermelon where I am, unfortunately, but I generally try to wait until I know it's really warm in the country they are imported from and then it's just hit or miss (usually the latter). A tiny bit of salt on even so so melon seems to bring out the flavor tho!

        1. re: Transplant_DK

          A bit of salt on waltermelon does bring out the flavor, have done that for years & then I saw someone sprinkle sugar on & I tried it too, works great too. I also sprinkle black pepper on cantaloupes.

          So sad about fruits & veggies now days....taste has really deteriorated, whether we are buying them in season or not.

          1. re: cstout

            This is what I was going to say, maybe one out of 20 watermelons is remarkable and I'm counting all the ones I get from the nearby farms. Which I assume they grow themselves, but I could be wrong. Seems like the best ones I've gotten were just dumb luck at the grocery store.

        2. re: geminigirl

          I recently added some of the foam from strawberry jam to a banana bread recipe. It added a subtle flavor, mellowing the banana flavor.

          I add the foam to meat glazes, bbq sauce, a little mixed into meatloaf or meatballs can be nice in a sweet and sour fashion. Add to baked beans. Whiz a little it into a vinaigrette!

          1. re: geminigirl

            I stand in the kitchen and eat all the foam before anyone else comes in the room that may want me to share.

            1. re: jmcarthur8

              :)
              Thanks for all the ideas. Thought I was going to be the only one to use the stuff!

          2. Concerning long-term storage of tomatoes, freeze them whole rather than canning them whole. Freezing preserves the fresh tomato flavor better than canning. Freezing has less of a negative effect on the fresh flavor than canning due to the high heat of the canning process.

            To freeze whole tomatoes simply core them, place them in a zip top freezer bag, squeeze all of the air out, seal and label the bag, and place it in the freezer.

            13 Replies
            1. re: 1POINT21GW

              Do you leave the skins on? Why do you have to core them? I am a dummy at freezing methods & would like to know more since it makes sense to leave fruits & veggies in their natural state if possible, that way later on you can have so many more options available as to what to do with them.

              How do you folks freeze corn?

              1. re: cstout

                Yes, you leave the skins on.

                Coring them before you freeze them is easier than coring them after they've been frozen and thawed since they will be much softer after thawing.

                1. re: 1POINT21GW

                  Thaw frozen whole tomatoes and the skins slip right off.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    We always threw them whole in the freezer. When you take them out, hold them under cold (or warm) running water and the skin will burst and you can just rub it off.
                    Lately, I actually cook down the tomatoes and freeze in plastic bags to use later on. Quite often I cook them down with onions so I'm halfway there for a pasta sauce

                    1. re: butzy

                      I do this too. I also throw in oranges, lemons and limes in the freezer whole. Zesting is easier when frozen -and when thawed, I think they give more juice.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        Freezing oranges, lemons & limes in the freezer - what a great idea. Right now I have a bag of those small limes that I was hoping would not ruin before they could be used up. Thanks so much for posting.

                2. re: cstout

                  I usually steam or boil my cobs of corn very briefly (maybe a minute) then let it cool before cutting the kernels off. I find that I have fewer kernels flying around the kitchen that way. I am curious about those gadgets for stripping cobs of their kernels.

                  1. re: cheesymama

                    I have one of those gadgets, and it works wonderfuly well! Be careful, though, it is very sharp!

                    1. re: sunflwrsdh

                      Someone here recommended sticking the cob in the middle hole of a bundt pan and cutting the kernals off into the pan itself. Not perfect but it was better,and I didn't have to buy a gadget.

                3. re: 1POINT21GW

                  I've just lobbed them into the freezer and put them in a plastic bag when frozen. When they thaw, the skin and core can be pulled out easily.

                  I've just unearthed my mother's squeezo gadget that separates tomatoes from their seeds, and I'm thinking that freezing some pint or quart blocks of tomato essence will be welcome. Has anyone tried this?

                  1. re: sr44

                    Frozen corn - a dear old lady told me she wraps each ear of corn in newspaper (shucks & all), & then stores in a brown paper sack in the freezer. I have not tried this, simply because I can never gather enough to try it, always want to eat them NOW. Wonder if anyone else does this.

                    1. re: sr44

                      I just discovered this last year: Just put the (entire) fresh tomatoes in the blender (or vitamix) and puree.... seeds, skin and all. Then freeze in mason jars. I made sauces and soups all through last winter, I still have a few jars left. It was fabulously easy. Of course, this is no good if you want a chunky type sauce, but I used it for marinara and tomato soups and sauce bases and it was wonderful.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        I don' like to freeze in Mason jars (too many broken ones in my experience), but the blender method does sound easy with a very useful result. Thanks.

                  2. Have done the watermelon margarita. Very fresh tasting if a bit watery. Sliced chunks, maybe 2" x 1" x .5", froze in chest freezer on cookie sheet, then blended with lime, tequila, triple sec. Probably wouldn't again but worth trying if you haven't. Make sure you use very rich red sweet melon.

                    I love fresh watermelon/tomato gazpacho: use desired quantities of both, squeeze a lime in, a small glug of white wine, tiny touch of salt, black pepper as desired; blend.

                    Quick pickles: I love love love June Meyer's Hungarian cucumber relish (I add dill):
                    http://homepage.interaccess.com/~june...

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                      DuchessNukem....what a wonderful name. Yes, those quick pickles sound great, but I must add some garlic, just am not happy until I can add garlic to everything. Love those small batch recipes.

                      1. re: cstout

                        Cstout, the cucumber relish is rather sweet; garlic wouldn't work for me in that recipe lol.

                        I do agree with sedimental and meatn3, lactofermented pickles are terrific. Yesterday I took some some garlic dills and hot okra pickles off the countertop and into the fridge.

                        Edited to add: And I'm going to try a small batch of your oil pickles AND some cucumber relish this evening since they start off with the same process. Handy! :)

                      2. re: DuchessNukem

                        My mother used to serve this as cucumber salad (with just a bit of sugar and vinegar)

                        1. re: DuchessNukem

                          I've made a watermelon martini that is similar, with Gran Marnier. Very refreshing.

                        2. The original comment has been removed
                          1. Here is an unusual recipe I am going to try today, a friend passed it along to me.

                            Oil Pickles for the Freezer

                            I use part olive oil, part neutral vegetable oil, which makes a less sharp, and less expensive, pickle. You can use all mustard seed or, as I do, a variety. Like any other preserving recipe, proportions are approximate. Makes about 2 pints.

                            6 pickling cukes, about 1 ½” in diameter
                            8 small white boiling onions, about 1 ½” in diameter
                            ½ cup coarse salt
                            1 T black or yellow mustard seed
                            ½ T fennel seed
                            ½ T caraway seed
                            ¼ cup olive oil
                            ¼ cup neutral vegetable oil
                            1/8 tea cayenne
                            Cider vinegar (1 1/3 cups or more)

                            Slice the cukes and onions at least 1/8th inch thin. Mix in a bowl with the salt, then place in a colander in the sink to drain for about 8 hours, or overnight, tossing them around occasionally. Divide the cukes and onions between two pint jars. In a 2-cup glass measure, put the spices and the ½ cup of oil, then fill the measure to the 2-cup line with cider vinegar. This should be enough for both jars. If you need additional liquid to cover, add a little more vinegar to each. Screw on the lids and turn the jars over a few times to mix. Put one jar in the refrigerator—they will be ready in about a week—and freeze the other. If you plan to freeze, make sure you leave at least an inch of head space; if refrigerating, it doesn't matter. These wonderful pickles can be eaten almost directly from the freezer.