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Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

It has been many years since I  made nice garlicy dill pickles. I am usually drawn to making Yum Yums as they are a taste of my childhood and instantly take me back to my baba’s dining room table and the many family gatherings we would have. But this year I am craving dill pickles, vinegary and heavy on the garlic! After a very wet hot summer this years cucumber bumper crop did not disappoint. With a huge amount of cucumbers I have more then enough to do at least a double batch of dills.

I don’t like any funky spices in my dill pickles and keep it very simple with fresh dill and garlic. To give it a bit of extra zip I use a 7% vinegar.

Making dill pickles in the Nutmeg Disrupted kitchen.

 

 

As always be sure to sterilize all your jars and have them hot and ready to fill. Warm all lids and screw bands in a small saucepan keeping warm until needed. All pickles are processed in a hot water bath, be sure to check on times for your specific elevation. And to keep things clean and efficient I always use my canning funnel to aid in the addition of any liquids which I am using during canning.

 

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Dill Pickles
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • small pickling cucumbers
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups of 7% vinegar
  • ¼ cup of pickling salt
  • garlic cloves - peeled
  • dill heads
  • 7-8 1L jars
Instructions
  1. Scrub the cucumbers with a brush making sure all dirt is removed.
  2. Trim a bit off of each end of the cucumbers.
  3. Rinse well.
  4. Peel cloves of garlic, I used 4 cloves per jar.
  5. Shake the dill heads well to remove any bugs, give a quick rinse under water and place on paper towels to dry.
  6. In a large pot combine the vinegar, water and salt.
  7. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 -5 minutes.
  8. Place a head of dill and 2 cloves of garlic into the jars then fill with cucumbers packing tight.
  9. Add two final cloves of garlic.
  10. Using a canning funnel fill each jar with hot pickling brine.
  11. Add the lids and screw bands until finger tight.
  12. Place all jars into the canner and process for 15 minutes

Making garlic dill pickles in the Nutmeg Disrupted kitchen

Allow the jars to cool for 24 hours on the counter before moving. Make sure all jars have sealed by pushing down on the center of the lids. If there is any type of flex the jar is not sealed and should be stored in the fridge and consumed first. A properly sealed lid has no give and will be slightly concaved. Store pickles in a dark cool location. The are ready to be enjoyed about 2 weeks after canning and will last up to one year in storage.

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Canned Smoked Whitefish

Canned Smoked Whitefish

This is a topic close to my heart. It is a passion of mine that started in an effort to preserve the biggest harvest I ever had from my garden. It was the summer of 2001 and I had a 4000 square foot garden over flowing with fruits and vegetables. It was the results of working my way through the hardest struggle of my life.  Months before I lost my youngest son. Deep in the dark lonely hole of grief, I was desperate to find something good in the world. Something to busy my mind. My hands. To have purpose. So I started some seeds under a set of florescent lights that winter.

From those dark days grew a passion that gives me tremendous joy and is where I go to think, or not. And the results is an amazing wealth of fresh produce that I preserve to last the entire year.

Along my preserving journey I have made pickles, jams, jellies, pickles eggs and sausage and my latest experiments have been with smoked fish.

Smoked whitefish on Nutmeg Disrupted

Smoked fish is a flavour of my childhood that takes me back immediately to the kitchen table of my childhood home. It was like Christmas when my Gido would arrive bearing bags of whole smoked whitefish. Truly, it was one of the things I most looked forward to, better then any other gift he could have bought.  They were whole fish, cut down the belly, laid flat then smoked until they were dried yet still had a touch of tenderness to them.  I would gently peel the bones back from the fish and break it apart into flakes, popping the pieces into my mouth and slowly enjoyed the salty smokiness of each bite.

That was 35 years ago yet I can picture it as if it was only last week.

Blessed with friends who had just gone fishing it was easy to get as many as I needed. Everyone who knows me knows I love to smoke fish whenever given the chance. Looking for a better way to handle the fish once smoked I looked into canning it. All you need is a pressure cooker. And hey, that is a fantastic reason to pick up an new kitchen toy! I bought  a 22 quart Mirro pressure cooker at Canadian Tire.

22 quart Miro Pressure cooker

The first step in the process is to prep the fish for the brine. It must be scaled but keep the skin on and all the bones need to be removed.

Preping whitefish for smoking

Brine

3 1/2 quarts of water

1 1/2 cups of brown sugar

1 1/2 cups of coarse salt

2 tablespoons of onion powder

1/2 cup of white sugar

8 cloves of garlic, minced

Combine all of the brine ingredients in a large pot over medium heat. Simmer and stir until all sugar and salt is dissolved.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Brining whitefish on Nutmeg Disrupted

Once cool add the whitefish and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Remove the fish from the brine and rinse under cool running water. Pat dry.

Spray the rack from the smoker well with non stick spray. Place the fish on the rack, skin side down leaving a bit of space between the pieces. .

Place the rack on the top setting in the smoker and smoke for one hour.

Have all jars clean and sterlized and in hot water. All lids and rings should be in a pot of water, slightly simmering on low/medium heat.

Fill the canner with the proper amount of water for your model. I used 4 quarts for this application.

Remove the whitefish from the smoker and allow to cool for a few moments.

Filling jars with smoked whitefish

Gently fill the jars with warm whitefish, leaving 1/4 headspace in each jar. Drizzle with a touch of canola oil. I then topped each jar with 2 heaping tablespoons of hot sauce.

Adding hot sauce to the smoked fish

Clean the rims of the jars with a hot clean cloth, add the lids and rings until finger tight. Place on the racks of the pressure cooker.

Loading up the pressure cooker

Place and secure the lid on the cooker. Now crank up the heat!

You want the pressure cooker to get fully pressurized. Once that happens and the cooker begins to let off a steady stream of steam,  start timing for 10 minutes. This is a very important step, do not skip.

Once the 10 minutes has passed add the 10 pound weight and maintain the cooker just under 10 psi for 110 minutes.

After 110 minutes remove the canner off the heat and allow to cool for 1 hour before removing the lid of the pressure cooker.

Remove all jars and allow to cool completely.

You can open a jar and enjoy it immediately.

Canned Smoked Whitefish

I am sure my Gido would have enjoyed this version of preserving Smoked Whitefish.

dad and Gido auctioning in 1969

(my dad about age 22 and my Gido, first & second generation Auctioneers)

Gido in the pineapple fields of Hawaii.

It is amazing when I look back at how many of my memories of him are food related. Though first and foremost he was a businessman it was his garden and the crab apple picking adventures with him I cherish the most.

I don’t know where he got the smoked fish, whoever it was had some amazing skills.

 

 

 

 

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Making Bacon

Making Bacon

You have to wonder who thought it was a good idea to take a chunk of pork belly, rub it with sugar, salt and spices and after allowing it to rest for a few days decided it needed a nice layer of smoke with a few hours spent in the smoker.

Making bacon at home with Nutmeg Disrupted

Pretty damn delicious decision.

It has been an interesting process of learning and research since deciding to make bacon at home. It was spurred by a recent visit with some of our oldest friends out at their farm. They have been raising pigs for a while now and after spending time out at their place it brought back many memories of when we had pigs of our own. We raised 2 kinds of pigs. Over the years we had both domestic pigs and we also had a large herd of wild boar. We would have pig roasts of wild boar that would turn into weekend long events!  And it was those events from which my passion for BBQ began.

After much discussion it was decided that we would buy a pig to butcher once they grow to a good sized weight.

And with pork on our mind our thoughts naturally turned to bacon.

Many things have graced the racks of the smoker but we have yet to make bacon. So with that in mind the research began. Any new smoking adventure always requires some research. in some cases you are working with expensive cuts of meat and while trail and error is a good way to learn it is always a good idea to do some research to find a starting point.

The first thing you need to find to make bacon is curing salt. The second thing you will need is time because as we quickly learnt it takes time to make bacon. It is easy to make, but after a few batches in there are step that definitely affect the final product. Taking your time is imperative to a superior end result. Do not rush, rushing will only leave you disappointed. The goal here is bacon, not seasoned side pork.

Curing salt should not be hard to find. It is available in stores that carry wood chips, smokers and BBQ products. We could not find just curing salt but we did find a bacon cure kit which has a mixture of curing salt and maple sugar. If you can not find that specific kit there are jerky making sets available that contain the curing salt required to make bacon. You can also search for online sources if you have trouble finding it locally.

Curing bacon on Nutmeg Disrupted

The pork belly is available in the meat section where I shop. If it is not on the shelf just ask your butcher. Be sure to get it with the rind on.

Pork belly being prepped for curing and smoking to make bacon from Nutmeg Disurupted

The list of ingredients is short. You will also need some large Ziplock bags.

pork belly

cure – 2 tablespoons per pound

brown sugar – 2 tablespoons per pound

Place the pork belly on a cookie sheet with an edge. (this is purely for easy clean up) Rub the pork belly on all sides with the cure. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of brown sugar and rub all over the pork. Place each piece of pork belly into individual ziplock bags, removing as much air as possible and seal. Place in the fridge.

Now the next part depends on the thickness of the pork belly. In doing the research for this we discovered variations of how many days you want to brine the pork bellies for. The idea is the thicker the cut the longer the brine time.

For the first batch the pork was an inch thick. We brined it for 2 days, flipping the pork over every 12 hours. We did a short brine as the pork was quite thin and we were concerned that the bacon may end up being too salty. The second batch was much thicker at close to 2 inches. We brined those for two days, flipping the pork every 12 hours. At the end of the entire smoking process we found that the second batch did NOT brine long enough. It definitely should have been left for another 2 days. It was good but there was definitely room for improvement. This is the part you do not want to rush. It takes the meat from being side pork to bacon.

A good rule of thumb is to brine it for 2 days per inch of thickness.

*notes: Some sites say to keep the pork in the brine for up to a week to 10 days. My main concern is having too salty of a product leaving it that long. My suggestion is too experiment and see what works for you.

Once the pork has been brined for the adequate period you can move to the next step.

Remove the cured pork bellies from the bags and rinse well under cold water. Now we want to soak the pork for at least an hour to 2 hours at the longest. A large container or Ziplock bag will work fine. Fill with cold water and pop in the belly. After the soak dry the pork with paper towels to remove all the moisture. Place the pork, rind side down in a container and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the pork for 24 hours. This step is very important. During this stage the pork is forming pellicle, the proteins are forming a skin over the meat for which the smoke will adhere to. Do not skip this stage, it is what gives the pork belly the smoky bacon flavour.

 

Getting the smoker ready!

 

Applewood is the preferred wood of choice in most of our smoking. If apple is not available cherry is the second choice. Use the kind that you like! We like the smaller wood chips and we do not wet the chips. We like a fast heavy smoke and from our experience wet chips take longer to get smoking at the level we want.  The liquid used in the smoker this time around was water. The smoker is always preheated and the meat does not go into the smoker until there is smoke. We want the meat cooked with the heat of the smoke not the heat of the smoker.

While you are waiting for smoke, get the pork belly ready for the smoker.

Have the racks in the kitchen so you can quickly get the meat into the smoker with minimal smoke loss. You want the portions of belly to have space between them so they get smoke on the entire surface of each piece. Place the pork with the rind side on top.

Making bacon at home. Smoking pork belly from Nutmeg Disrupted

Place the rack(s) into the smoker and turn down to maintain a temperature of 185 – 200 degrees. We replaced the wood chips once at the one hour mark and smoked the pork for a total of 2 hours. When it was done the racks were pulled out of the smoker and placed on paper towels to cool completely. Once cool the bacon was vacuum packed and placed in the fridge overnight to firm up and absorb the smoke. The longer you can hold off trying it the better the smoke flavour will be.

Frying applewood smoked bacon made at home from Nutmeg Disrupted

Remove the rind and slice to fry. Be sure to take note of the two bacon ends and save them for yourself. They are the smokiest most flavourful part of the bacon. If you sample a slice or two then go back to the saved bacon end you will taste the difference.

 

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Apple Pie Filling

Apple Pie Filling

Surrounded by thick forest, with trees so big you couldn’t wrap your arms around them. The forest floor a cushion of moss, wild flowers and fallen leaves. Rays of sunlight streaming through the tree tops like something out of a child’s fairytale. It  was a little slice of heaven.

That was 18 years ago.

It was where I grew my first garden and had fruit trees. Where the passion for growing my own food was ignited. Where I read as many books as I could to learn how to can and preserve everything I was growing.

Along with all the pickles and jams I made, my most cherished jars were the 9 liter jars of apple pie filling made from the tree out back.

This recipe is super easy all the work is in the prep, but once the apples are peeled the rest of the job is  breeze.

Apple Pie Filling
 
Author:
Recipe type: Preserving
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 9 1 liter jars
Ingredients
  • 36 cups of apple, quartered and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1¾ teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Wash, peal and core apples.
  2. To prevent darkening use Fresh Fruit Powder following the directions on the label.
  3. Drain apples and place in a large kettle with the remaining ingredients.
  4. Bring slowly to a boil and simmer until all the sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly.
  5. Pack into hot jars leaving 5cm of headspace.
  6. Seal and process in a hot water bath for 25 minutes.
  7. Remove jars and allow to cool completely.
  8. To make a pie line a pie pan with pastry.
  9. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
  10. Add one jar of filling and sprinkle with 2 more tablespoons of cornstarch.
  11. Cover with pastry, seal edges and cut vents.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes at 425F then reduce to 350F and bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
  13. Makes 9 - 1 liter jars of pie filling

 

Canning apple pie filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

Cooking apples for pie filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

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Grapefruit Curd

Grapefruit Curd

There is nothing better in your local produce section right now then the citrus fruit that is available.

The selection of oranges is vast, from regular navals, mandarins, tangelos, to Seville and blood oranges you can’t go wrong. Though no matter how fabulous that oranges are I always gravitate back to the table in my produce section where I have the grapefruit display.

Ruby Red grapefruit for curd in Nutmeg Disrupted

I eat it with just a light sprinkle of sugar. But recently have been experimenting with it. The Sugared Grapefruit Rind is amazing. It is little strips of sweet Grapefruit love, full of fantastic grapefruit flavour.

Sugared Grapefruit Rind from Nutmeg Disrupted

Then I thought some grapefruit curd was in order. One word. Fabulous!

So then I started thinking of where I could use the curd and naturally Macarons seemed like the perfect place to use it.

Grapefruit Macarons with Grapefruit Curd filling from Nutmeg Disrupted

Grapefruit Curd is easy to make and using proper processing techniques you can make it for long time storage so you can always have a jar on hand.

Grapefruit Curd
 
Author:
Recipe type: Preserving
Ingredients
  • 3 ruby red grapefruit
  • 1½ cups of sugar
  • ⅔ cup of lemon juice
  • 6 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of grapefruit zest
Instructions
  1. Using warm water and a tiny squirt of soap wash your grapefruit and rinse very well.
  2. Using a microplane or the fine side of a box grater remove the zest from the grapefruit.
  3. Place the juice in a small pot an bring to a low boil.
  4. Reduce until you have 2 cups of liquid.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Place a small pot half full with water on the stove on medium high heat.
  7. Bring to a simmer.
  8. Place the juice, eggs and sugar in a stainless steel bowl and whisk until combined.
  9. Place the bowl on top of the simmering pot.
  10. Cook, stirring constantly until it becomes thick, about 10 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps.
  12. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted.
  13. Add the zest and stir well.
  14. Ladle the hot curd into hot sterilized jars.
  15. Add the lids and screw bands until finger tight.
  16. Place the jars into a hot water bath and process for 5 minutes.

Zesting grapefruit for curd on Nutmeg Disrupted

Ruby Red Grapefruit juice for curd on Nutmeg Disrupted

Ruby Red Grapefruit Curd from Nutmeg Disrupted

Grapefruit Curd from Nutmeg Disrupted

You can find my step by step process for French Macarons on the site. I have tried many recipes and have found success with the recipe I have posted.  I topped the Grapefruit Macarons with pieces of the Sugared Grapefruit Rind to make it the perfect Grapefruit trifecta!

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