Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Apparently we planted plenty of green beans this year. 
Phoebe and I have canned three batches of dilly beans so far. I think this is going to be it, but the bushes have been pumping out the beans, so we'll see.
We have not made pickled beans in years, not since that Christmas party when she brought a jar of them for the gift exchange. They became the hottest item of the night. No particular reason we hadn't made them. They are a little labor intensive, but sooo yummy.

Last year was the first time I ever made pickles. (The recipes in the links are not quite what we did but close.)

We have some food allergies in our family, including garlic, which means no conventional pickles. I grew cukes last year and made pretty decent pickles. I tried again this year, with good results. They sat in brine on the counter for 8 days. I did 13lbs in the first two batches. It was hard to keep up with the garden so some of the cukes were on the larger side. But they taste great.
When I was pulling them out of the crock to put in jars, I found a funny thing. I had accidentally put a zucchini in with the cucumbers. 
I sliced it up to try it, and it was quite good. So today I started my third crock, this time half cukes and half zukes. I am excited to see how they are.
All this fermentation made me think it was a good time to check in on my sourdough starter. (Sourdough is a bit of a misnomer, as you may know. Natural yeast is a better term. You can have naturally yeasted breads that are not very sour, depending on your starter.)

I started this starter 5.5 years ago. I was in a period of low employment, to put it nicely, and Phoebe reminded me that I always enjoyed making bread and that she always enjoyed eating fresh bread. I found a great site, and started learning how to make authentic bread.

My starter has survived some neglect over the years, but was never as ugly as what I saw when I opened the jar I keep in the fridge.
It was super nasty! Foul smelling, dried out, black on top. I was surprised, because I had refreshed it just 4 months ago. It has gone longer than that that before without such a dire result.

I don't keep a lot in reserve, so once I scraped through the muck, there was not a lot of clean starter underneath. I took about a tablespoon out, and fed and loved it for about a week. Now it is healthy and ready to go.
I don't usually bake much bread in the summer, as running the oven at 550 for an hour or two doesn't work so well in our un-airconditioned house. But since I went through the trouble of getting the starter refreshed I figured I might as well.

The cuke/zuke pickles were a flop, at least on the zuke side. Super squishy, fall apart in your hand mushy. Not sure what the difference was. It was much hotter that week, so they may have fermented faster. Maybe only one zuke in the crock reacts differently than 50/50. Whatever the case, yuck.

On the bread front, much more success.

A pretty good result for me: nice crust, not too dense, spunky sourdough flavor. Took it up to the homestead where Phoebe and some hard working young women were an appreciative audience.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe next time do the cukes and zukes separately! I have a friend who makes pickles and she has won 1st place at the county fair in Douglas county 3 times and has not entered the last couple of years.
    I always love the smell of fresh baked bread. Yum!!!


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