Category: alcohol

Hop Pickles, take two!

Black Swallowtail caterpillar hanging out on the dill in my garden.

Ohhhh, summer. The sun is beating down on you relentlessly. Where the caterpillars are crawling all over the dill waiting to grow into butterflies, the heat is stifling… and the humidity makes you want to kill babies.

Maybe its not that bad. But it is pretty bad.

However on the upside the gardens are overflowing with vegetables, the flowers have never looked prettier, and it’s PICKLE TIME.

Cucumber garden harvest- prepped for making hop pickles.

I had a bunch of pickling cucumbers to harvest, of course I had to grab my dill heads and use them before those Black Swallowtail caterpillars ate ’em all! So yeah. It’s pickle time. Better yet… it’s HOP PICKLE TIME.

Yes. Hop pickles. Remember those? I made them about 3 years ago for the first time after learning about Brooklyn Brine’s Hop Pickles. The Brooklyn Brine variety is made with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA & some Cascade hop oil. Mine are made with straight up beer- this time, a Pilsner.

Hop pickles made with Coney Island Brewing Co. Mermaid Pilsner.

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New green “Perfection” Ball jars & pickles!

As you probably know (if you actually read my blog- do people do that anymore?), and as you can probably tell, I’ve been “canning” for awhile now. Yes- I’m one of those insufferable people who doesn’t buy Mason jars for crafting or wedding centerpieces, but for their actual purpose: preserving food.

What a snob!

Whiskey pickles in green "Perfection" limited edition Ball jars.

And through all of this canning trial and error that I’ve done over the past 5 years, I’ve discovered some things. I’ve made A LOT of pickles. Tons. Even before I grew my own cucumbers I made jar after jar after jar each year. Pickles are best in pint or quart jars (unless they’re bread & butter pickles, you can cram them into some 8-oz. jars or even some Collection Elite® “squat” pint jars if need be). I prefer quart/pint jars with a shoulder to keep the cukes down in the jar and not floating up too high. And that the prettiest pickles are made in the new green limited edition “Perfection” jars!

Whiskey pickles in green "Perfection" limited edition Ball jars.

I bought a case of the Ball® quart sized green Heritage collection “Perfection” jars specifically because I knew they’d be perfect (no pun intended) for pickling. They were hard to find near me- which is odd, because I was able to get the blue and purple ones just fine! So I ordered them on freshpreserving.com. I also ordered some plastic screw-on lids because Jay’s favorite pickles are fermented Kosher dills that don’t get processed, so why waste the two-piece lids?

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Bachelor’s jam.

Just when you think you’ve made almost every kind of jam there is, you find a new one. Or at least, thats my story anyway. I present to you today, “Bachelor’s jam”; one of the oldest kinds of fruit preservation there is. Yep. You read that correctly. One of the oldest. And might I add- the easiest.

Bachelor's jam, aka rumtopf. Fruit layered with sugar and soaked in alcohol.

In Germany, it’s known as rumtopf (rum pot). Perhaps you’ve heard of that. Let’s see what Wikipedia says:

Rumtopf (Danish: Romkrukke), which literally means rum pot, is a German and Danish dessert, traditionally eaten around Christmas.[1] Once a popular traditional dessert, Rumtopf has become rather unfashionable in recent years.[2]

A mixture of various kinds of fruit, high-strength rum, often Stroh’s, and sugar is filled into a large stoneware pot (the eponymous rum pot) and matured for several months until the fruit is very soft and completely saturated with rum. Suitable fruit includes berries, cherries, plums and apricots. Not all fruits are appropriate for Rumtopf, and the overproof rum should be of only 100-110 proof (50-55% alcohol by volume), which is not commonly available at retail in all regions, but can be prepared by blending more common commercially available 151 proof and 80 proof rums.[3][4][5]

Traditionally, the pot is set up in a cool and dark place in Spring, and different kinds of ripe fruit are added to it over the months as they come in season. The fruit is thereby preserved to be eaten in Winter, when the Rumtopf is matured.

Bachelor's jam, or rumtopf.

In France? It’s known as confiture de vieux garçon, or bachelor’s jam. And sometimes it’s even called “officer’s jam” (which is even better & more appropriate for us!). I happen to think that’s a far more intriguing name, so that’s what I’m going with.

In order to make this, there is little to no effort on your part. Seriously. If you can chop fruit, and you have both alcohol and sugar in your possession, then you can make this. No canning required. You don’t even need to add herbs or spices or fancy stuff; it’s fine on it’s own. And best part? NO COOKING. At ALL. Not even turning on a burner on the stove!

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Mini cherry Pimm’s pies.

Mini cherry pies with Pimm's liqueur.

I told you. I have had a lot of cherries. I received an amazingly large shipment of beautiful Northwest cherries from Rainier Fruit Co, and while I used most of them for canning and preserving, there were a decent amount that got too soft or weren’t right for that purpose. And that’s okay- it happens! They were excellent for eating fresh right out of the bag. But I needed to bake.

You know how that is. When you just have to bake something, even if it is 90º?

Well, yeah. That happens to me, anyway. So I decided to bake up some mini cherry pies… with a twist: I added some Pimm’s No. 1 Cup to them.

Pimm's cherry pies.

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If you like pina colada… cake.

Pina colada bundt cake!

And now for something completely different! Pina colada cake!

I know, random. I got tired of all the fruity stuff going on around here, guys. I needed to bake something that wasn’t a fruit tart. I’m serious. I love making jams and baking pies and tarts, but I’m really just biding my time waiting for #pickleseason and looking for opportunities to make cupcakes.

Or cakes.

So when my dad informed me he wasn’t going to pick a dessert for Father’s Day, he was going to leave it up to me, I immediately thought: cake. Then Jay came up with this genius idea. GENIUS. Totally genius. Except of course we were not the first ones to think of such a thing.

Pina colada bundt cake.

I found an excellent recipe and adapted it just a liiiiiittle teeny bit to suit me. And it was amazing. AMAZING. I even busted out my large Wilton bundt pan for this!

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DIY lemon vodka.

DIY lemon infused vodka.

How much do you LOVE the summer light? Wow. It always impresses me. You can be an awful photographer, and in the summer as long as you use the light to your advantage, you’re golden.

Anyway, as you see from the title of this post and the above picture, this is all about vodka. Lemon-infused vodka. The perfect thing to sip on with some ice & maybe some tonic, as you enjoy this beautiful summer light. Preferably enjoyed outdoors, at twilight or right before the sun begins to set, on a humid yet pleasant summer night.

Lemon vodka DIY.

Because why pay for flavored vodka when you can make it yourself? If you get a bottle of good vodka, and some organic lemons, well you’ve got yourself a party.

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Bacon bourbon.

Bacon fat-infused Maker's Mark bourbon.

A couple of years ago, you wouldn’t have thought I’d be interested in doing much of anything with whiskeys or bourbons. Bacon… well, let’s be honest. Bacon is the ONE reason I couldn’t be 100% vegetarian. I have managed to keep most meat products out of my mouth most of the time. The two weaknesses I have? Chicken and bacon. I don’t know why. Maybe because they’re delicious.

Anyway, I have a lot of bourbon here to work with. You think you understand that statement but until you’ve seen a photo of the amount of bourbon Jay has, or seen it in person, you don’t really understand.

And the only one I really like? Maker’s Mark.

Bacon fat infused bourbon.

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