Cook's Exchange: Let the canning begin, from pickles to pasta sauce

June 4, 2014 

When I was growing up, my grandfather planted gardens summer and winter, and my grandmother canned or froze the fresh produce.

I don't think I ever saw her buy frozen vegetables until my grandfather's health did not permit him to do a garden. By then, I was in college.

We had new potatoes, corn, several kinds of peas, butter beans, cabbage, onions, peppers, cucumbers, watermelons, squash, zucchini, and, of course, tomatoes. She worked hard to make sure nary a vegetable was lost. She even turned watermelon rinds into pickles and preserves. She made use of everything.

She canned tomatoes, pickles, squash and zucchini. She would freeze the peas, corn and butter beans.

One of my favorites of hers was bread and butter pickles. I could eat them like candy. They were sweet with just a little heat. I wish I had her recipe.

Reader Mary Johnson does her share of canning and freezing fresh vegetables and fruits.

"You asked if we freeze and can," Johnston said. "I'm sure the answer will be a resounding 'yes.'

"I just made zucchini jam, and it is wonderful. I found the recipe on Google, and it is delicious," she said.

ZUCCHINI JAM

6 cups shredded zucchini (peel, cut and remove seeds)

1 (14-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

6 cups sugar

1 or 2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 package of peach gelatin

Cook zucchini about 20 minutes until it comes to boil and then cook another 10 minutes, stirring often. Add everything but gelatin and bring to boil and cook 10

minutes. Take off heat; stir in gelatin; and stir 1 minute. Can in half-pint or pint jars. Process half-pint jars 5 minutes, pints, 10 in water bath. Delicious.

-- Submitted by Mary Johnston

Nedra Baldwin of Biloxi, Miss., shares a freezer pickle recipe and a recipe for refrigerator cucumber slices that will keep in the refrigerator up to two weeks. She also sent in a pizza-flavored pasta sauce that can be frozen in freezer-safe containers. Next week, I will share some of her great fresh vegetable recipes.

SWEET 'N' TANGY FREEZER PICKLES

10 to 12 pickling cucumbers (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced

3 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 large green pepper, chopped

3 tablespoons salt, divided

2 cups sugar

1 cup white vinegar

1 tablespoon celery seed

In a large container, combine cucumbers, onions, green pepper and 2 tablespoons salt. Cover with crushed ice; mix well. Refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain; rinse and drain again.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seed and remaining salt. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute. Spoon over cucumber mixture. Pour into jars or freezer containers. Cool.

Top with lids. Cover and freeze up to 6 weeks. Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours before serving. Yield 4 pints.

-- Submitted by Nedra Baldwin from Taste of Home magazine, June/July 2000

REFRIGERATOR CUCUMBER SLICES

4 pounds cucumbers (about 6 large), cut in1/4-inch slices

3 medium onions, cut into 1/8-inch slices

3 cups sugar

3 cups cider vinegar

4 teaspoons canning/pickling salt

1- 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon alum

In a large container, combine cucumbers and onions. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour over cucumber mixture; mix well. Cover and chill overnight. May be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Yield: about 2- 1/2 quarts.

-- Submitted by Nedra Baldwin from Taste of Home magazine, June/July 2000

PIZZA-FLAVORED PASTA SAUCE

1 pound bulk Italian sausage

1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms

2 packages (3- 1/2-ounces each) sliced pepperoni

3/4 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped onion

7 cups meatless spaghetti sauce

1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

Hot cooked pasta

In a large skillet, cook sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, pepper and onion over medium heat until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up sausage into crumbles; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce, olives and Italian seasoning.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10-12 or until sauce is heated through. Serve over pasta.

Per serving: 200 calories, 13 grams fat (4 grams saturated); 29 milligrams cholesterol; 934 milligrams sodium; 12 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 10 grams protein.

Freeze it: Freeze cooled sauce in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in saucepan, stirring occasionally.

-- Submitted by Nedra Baldwin from Taste of Home magazine, September/October 2013

Tell us how your garden is growing. What have you planted and how are the vegetables doing? What are you canning or freezing? Let me know. Please share your recipes, too.

More pistachio cakes

My mailbox has been full of pistachio cake recipes for Paul Goll of Florida. Today, I will share two more, but there are still others to come.

Shirley Watenpool of Bradenton shares a favorite recipe with Goll. She says it is an excellent recipe.

WATERGATE CAKE

1 box white cake mix

1 box instant pistachio pudding mix (small box)

3 eggs

1 cup Crisco oil

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup 7-UP or Sprite

Mix together and pour in a greased 9-by-13-inch oblong pan. Bake 30-40 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

-- Submitted by Shirley Watenpool

Arlene Lee of Ocean Springs, Miss., offers her recipe for a pistachio inside outside cake that also has a pistachio frosting.

PISTACHIO INSIDE OUTSIDE CAKE

1 white or yellow cake mix

1 box Jell-O pistachio instant pudding (small)

3 eggs

1 cup club soda

1 cup oil

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Blend all ingredients in a large bowl, then beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Bake is a greased and floured Bundt pan at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and remove from pan and cool on rack. Split into 3 layers. Spread about 1 cup frosting between layers; spoon rest in center. Chill; garnish with chopped nuts.

Frosting

1- 1/2 cups milk

1 envelope Dream Whip

1 box instant pistachio pudding (small)

Blend together; whip until thickened about 5 minutes. Spread on cake. Can use Cool Whip in place of Dream Whip. Enjoy.

-- Submitted by Arlene Lee

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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