Most of us have busy lives, whether young, middle aged, or even retired. In August, if you add canning, freezing and preserving of fresh vegetables and fruits, you have a huge overload, right?
At least I do, and I don’t even try to preserve fresh fruits. It is all I can do to manage a garden, our home, two part time jobs, a newspaper column, and a blog. Not to mention church and other community involvements. Enough. You get the idea.
Yet, yet, there is something so very special about picking your own home grown food, cleaning and preparing it, and then putting it away in freezer or on basement canning shelves for winter and year round. There is nothing that says home better than the smell of freshly canned beans or salsa coming from the kitchen, and nothing says satisfaction better than the tell-tale “ping” when those canned jars tell you they’ve sealed. YES!
I love the simplicity of vegetables you don’t have to can or preserve as such, but just put away in a cool dark place if possible, such as onions and potatoes. I’ve been tickled these last couple of years that I’ve not had to buy any potatoes. Zero! What we’ve raised feed my husband and me all year, and we eat a decent amount of potatoes, once or twice a week. Not quite daily like my Mennonite mother used to do, but frequently.
Most large Amish families plant huge gardens and “truck patches” and preserve also a huge amount of canned and frozen foods. They don’t stop at green beans and tomatoes, but can applesauce, peaches, pears, cherries, grape juice. Many also can meats such as pork, beef, venison, poultry, and broths of the same.
Those who follow Amish writers like Lovina Eicher are always amazed and impressed with the sheer volume of work such women manage, even if it is with the help of those large families, aunts and uncles, church community, and neighbors. As Lovina frequently writes in her weekly newspaper column, many hands make light work.
Her newest very popular cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry includes a number of her canning and preserving favorites. We’ve selected a very simple one to share here for pickles that can be frozen.
The publisher of The Essential Amish Cookbook, Herald Press, has also published a complete guide to preserving foods called Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything, by Mary Clemens Meyer and Susanna Meyer.
Enter the drawing to receive a free copy of either book!
2 quarts fresh pickling cucumbers (medium size), unpeeled and sliced
1 large onion, sliced
2 tablespoons salt
1 ¾ cup sugar
½ cup white vinegar
Put sliced cucumbers, onion, and salt in a large bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours. Drain after 24 hours. Whisk together sugar and vinegar and pour over cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate 24 more hours.
Pack pickles in freezer-safe containers. Pour pickle syrup over, leaving a little headspace in each container. Cover. Freeze. Will keep in freezer up to 6 months.
Lovina says of this recipe: “I like to be able to freeze some of my pickle recipes because I can reuse the containers and don’t have to buy new lids as I do when I can in jars. I always serve these at our lunch when we host church services [at home]. I get a lot of compliments because these pickles stay so crisp.”