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We've got Smurf Food People

My mother in-law called me the other day to tell me that the garden is going crazy with beans and that we should come over to pick some. I thought to myself, I just picked a few pounds on Saturday and we have been eating beans at every meal ever since. So we went over to check out the beans and could not believe how many there were. This plant totally wowed me- it was growing out of control. I was starting to believe that the story Jack and the Bean Stalk was true. There is no way to get ahead of picking them all. When we planted, we didn’t realize that the best thing with beans is to sporadically plant them so they don’t all come at once… oops! Live and learn right.

So we picked another huge basket full of green snap beans and yellow wax beans. We brought them home and decided to bite the bullet and have a night of pickling. I paged through my recipes and found a good one for Spicy Pickled Beans. I gathered all of my ingredients and employed my bean cutter…aka my husband to trim the beans and cut them into one inch lengths. While he was doing this I washed all of the jars and lids and placed them in a pot of hot water, not boiling.

From here, I blanched the beans in boiling water for a few minutes. At the same time I prepared a pickling solution of white vinegar, sugar, pickling salt, dill seed, and sliced habanero peppers. Once the beans were cooked, but still tender, I added them along with the water they boiled in, into the pickling solution to simmer for 15 minutes. I put the cover on and stirred occasionally. After the time was up, we set up an assembly line for filling the jars. With a slotted spoon, I put the beans into the jar and added a few slices of garlic. Then I added the hot pickling solution to the jar leaving about 1/8 inch headspace. It is important to keep the pickling solution over the heat until all jars are filled so that it doesn’t get too cold to put in the jars. Then the jar was transported using our handy canning jar lifter, to the countertop where Rob delivered a seal and screw lid. I removed the air bubbles with a bamboo stick before putting on the lid. I secured the top and placed the jar upside down on the counter. Then we continued this process for each jar. Since we doubled the recipe, it made 5 500mL jars. We left them inverted over night. In the morning we checked to make sure they all sealed properly, meaning that the top will not move when you touch it. We moved them to a cool, dark place to rest. They will be ready to eat in a few weeks.

Pickled Snap Beans
Recipe From:
Yield: 3 500 mL jars

3 pounds tender snap beans
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white or cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 hot red peppers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill seed
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped or sliced


1. Wash the beans thoroughly and snap off the ends.

2. Cook them in the water until just crisp tender.

3. Meanwhile, simmer covered in a two quart saucepan the vinegar, sugar, salt, red peppers and dill seed.

4. Add the beans with the water in which they were cooked and simmer, covered, fifteen minutes.

5. Continue simmering while packing one sterilized jar after another with the beans.

6. Divide the raw garlic among the jars and pour the vinegar mixture over the beans.

7. Fill the jars to one-eighth inch from the top.

8. Seal at once and store in a cool, dry place.

When I was at the grocery store picking up the vinegar and salt for the beans, I couldn’t help myself to buy a kilo of fresh garlic cloves for another recipe I found for Korean Pickled Garlic. I ate garlic like it was going out of style in Korea and miss it. Besides it is so good for you! So I added some brown rice vinegar to my basket as well.

The recipe that I found for the pickled garlic came from a book called The Joy of Pickling that has dozens of recipes from all over the world. It sounded so easy. So this afternoon I sat down and peeled about 15 heads of garlic! I put the garlic into two jars and covered with brown rice vinegar. Then the recipe said to cover it and leave it at room temperature for a week before adding the rest of the ingredients. In a week I would come back to it and add soy sauce and brown sugar, shake, and keep in the fridge. The garlic would be good for up to a year! My mouth was watering each time I walked by the counter and saw the garlic cloves just swimming in the vinegar solution.

Now the funny part is this. I woke up the next morning to make some coffee and I looked at the garlic on the counter and to me it looked a little discolored. I thought it was just that I was not quite awake yet, but then after a few cups of coffee I looked again. Yep my garlic turned… get this… smurf blue! So I researched it and found out that this is common when preserving garlic. It means that the garlic was picked too early and that there is a high amount of sulfur in the either the solution or the garlic itself and it reacted with any traces of copper in the vinegar. But according to the medical research mentioned in this article it is still fine to eat. ( ) To prevent this, the garlic should have been processed at high heat, which my recipe did not call for. If nothing else, I know how to make Smurf Food now!

Mrs. Kim’s Pickled Garlic
Recipe From: The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich
Yield: 1/2 to 3/4 cup

3-4 heads of garlic with small to medium sized cloves
1/2- 3/4 cup brown rice vinegar
2-3 TBS brown sugar
2-3 TBS soy sauce

1. Separate and peel the garlic cloves. Put them in a jar and cover them with the vinegar. Cap the jar and let it stand at room temperature for 1 week.

2. Pour half of the vinegar out of the jar (you can use it for a dressing a salad, making a sauce, etc.). Add the brown sugar and soy sauce, cap the jar, and shake it to mix the contents and dissolve the sugar. Store it in the refrigerator.

3. The garlic will be ready to eat after 1 week. Refrigerated, it will keep well for at least 1 year.

Smurf Food:

I am a pickling novice, making this my first solo attempt at preserving anything. I have lots to learn and welcome any recipes or suggestions from anyone who is more experienced than myself as I feel that I will have many nights of pickling ahead of me. All in all it went pretty well beside the blue garlic. I will keep these jars of garlic and get a good laugh anytime I open my fridge.

Since this blog is about preserving food, I might as well share our Strawberry Jam making experience. I bought a ton of strawberries at the store the other day and just thought, maybe I will whip up some jam. I have never made jam before nor have I ever seen anyone make jam. All I knew is that you need pectin, fruit, jars, sugar, and probably some sort of juice. So I got all of those things. I opened the box of pectin hoping there was a recipe and sure enough there was…lots of steps but only a few ingredients. As I was perusing the recipe, I had to look through the phone book and get the number of the local dentist handy as this recipe called for 7 cups of sugar to 5 cups of strawberries…oh my!

So we improvised a bit for the tools needed, so hopefully the jam turns out. We didn’t have a canner or a canner rack, so we just used the biggest pot we had. The first step was to wash and cut the berries. I filled my sink with cold water and let them soak for about 10 minutes before cutting. Rob was the strawberry cutter. Meanwhile, I washed the jars/lids and put them in a pot of hit, not boiling water, to sterilize. Once the berries were but I pulsed them in the blender to crush them. Then I made a mixture of berries, pectin, and lemon juice and heated this to a boil before adding 7 cups of sugar. We continued to stir the mixture and brought it back up to a roiling boil and tried to keep it in the pot. Some went overboard, so one of us stirred while the other one waved the smoke out the door to prevent the smoke alarm from going off! Jam gets sticky and smoky fast when burnt! We began to fill the jars and spilled more jam everywhere…on the cabinets, burners, in the sink, you name it jam was there. What a story to tell about our first jam making experience…haha! We were still able to fill 7 jars of jam! Hope it all works out.

Note: It is best to read the pamphlet that comes with the jam jars to get all of the details for the recipe. It comes with lots of handy tips! Happy Jammin!

Strawberry Jam
Recipe From: Bernardin
Yields: 7-8 250 mL jars (depending on how much you spill ;)

5 cups crushed strawberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pkg Original Pectin
7 cups sugar
1/2 tsp butter
8 250 mL jars

1. Prepare canner, jars and lids in hot water bath.
2. In large stainless steel sauce pan, stir together prepared fruit, lemon juice, butter (to reduce foaming), and Pectin, until dissolved.
3. Over high heat, bring mixture to a rolling boil.
4. Add all of the sugar, stirring constantly, and return mixture to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim off any foam if necessary.
5. Fill and process jars according to Bernardin directions.

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