Category: maple

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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Toasted walnut maple cupcakes… with a maple rye whiskey butter glaze.

Toasted walnut maple cupcakes with a glaze made from Tap 357 maple rye whiskey.

For some reason, I always associate the maple-y flavors with fall. Maybe because that’s when maple syrup is tapped? Maybe because it goes great with pumpkin & cinnamon & nutmeg- all fall/winter flavors. Who knows. And even though it isn’t “fall” yet, the kids are back at school, the stores are shoving Halloween & Thanksgiving stuff in your face, and- like me- you probably have baking season fever. It’s a real thing, I swear.

So… here’s a cure.

No, not having a drink. Making cupcakes! Maple cupcakes. With an extra oomph: a maple glaze using maple syrup, maple rye, and butter.

It’s that time of year when it’s maybe SLIGHTLY (I emphasize slightly) more comfortable for baking, or having the oven on. Maybe if you’re lucky, the humidity is down too. The windows can perhaps be open during the day, as opposed to the constant hum of the air conditioner. Either way, it’s just that time. The time when I transition from canning my ass off to baking. It’s a slow transition, granted- especially when my garden is still in full swing & I’m wearing shorts. But it’s starting.

The smell of autumn isn’t far away.

Which means that it’s time to get started baking again, forreals.

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Triple berry maple bourbon jam.

Triple berry maple bourbon jam.

Boy, berries can be messy.

I forget this from year to year, until I have some & I’m making jam & it splatters everywhere & it looks like I’ve been doing illegal surgeries in my kitchen sink.They’re so pretty though. So I forgive them their trespasses, for they know not what they do. And they’re summery, so it stands to reason I’m ready to start using them.

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Haulin’ oats.

Use steel-cut oats to make an easy 'overnight oats' recipe flavored with maple pumpkin butter.

Bad pun. Sorry. For those of you born after the early 90’s, I was making a pun referring to Hall & Oates, a 1970’s/1980’s duo who’s songs “Maneater”, “Kiss On My List” & “Private Eyes” are insanely well-known. But yeah. It was a bad pun.

On the plus side? This is a great idea.

I first saw it on This Homemade Life & I thought it was genius. Problem is, I don’t like oatmeal. I like oatmeal cookies… but not oatmeal. But I still wanted to try it anyway. Jay loves oatmeal, my parents love oatmeal, the whole world loves oatmeal. I was starting to feel like a leper. Truth be told, I’m not a breakfast person. If I’m away on vacation, I can maybe get in the mood for a breakfast or two. Especially on the road at an awesome Mom & Pop style diner. Otherwise, nope. I mean, I love breakfast foods. I’ve been known to have a bowl of cereal or two, & I do enjoy a good breakfast-for-dinner now & then. But I don’t want oatmeal when I’m having it- I want a big ol’ stack of buttermilk pancakes or waffles with butter & maple syrup. And don’t forget: lots of crispy bacon.

So to avoid the stigma of being the only person alive who doesn’t like oatmeal, I thought I’d do my own, more seasonal spin on the “overnight oats” in a jar: maple pumpkin oats.

An easy way to make maple pumpkin overnight oats using maple pumpkin butter.

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Maple apple walnut crisp, celebrating fall.

Autumn in NY: fall leaves

The word “crisp” always reminds me of fall. In all of it’s meanings, it applies to autumn: the weather is (usually) crisp, apples are crisp when you bite into them, the leaves are crisp- they crunch under your feet, and of course, you can bake things like crisps without your face melting off.

It’s nice to be able to put the oven on & have the windows open… instead of cranking the A/C higher to compensate.

Beautiful, shiny fall apples... just waiting to be baked!

Well, here in New York, anyway.

And it’s about time. I shouldn’t really complain: we didn’t have ONE day over 90° in August this year, and September was relatively pleasant. A bit humid & muggy at times, but all in all it was mostly very cool, sunny days & nice breezes (and some positively cold evenings). October started off HORRIBLE with 86° weather & humidity like crazy, but it evened out into nicer “fall like” temperatures. And lately it’s been really nice… not too cold, sunny, and… wait for it… crisp. I have to say it always dismays me when the weather skips past fall & goes right from sweltering to freezing. Ya gotta give me a little crisp fall weather, Mama Nature!

I say that knowing tonight it’s supposed to dip down to 37 degrees.

A delicious maple apple walnut crisp recipe!

Anyway, can we talk about “crisps”? No, not the U.K. version of a crisp. The baked, dessert-y, fruity, sugary cobbler-like version.

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Maple-whiskey pickles; version 2.0.

The Pickle Sisters, c. 1920’s, image courtesy of Retronaut

A safe assumption here would be that you’re a new reader who doesn’t remember the previous version of these I created. That would be not only the safest assumption, but the most logical, seeing as how I’m sure the majority of people who are googling “whiskey maple pickles” or some variation of that haven’t been reading my blog (although THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN). Because let’s face it, if they were, they’d have known about the previous incarnation of this recipe & they wouldn’t need to be Googling it. But I am not naive nor conceited enough to think everyone in the world knows about/reads my blog.

So here’s a little recap: last year I made pickles. In those pickles, there was not only the usual suspects: dill, pickling spices, salt, vinegar, etc… but also maple syrup & bourbon.

Seriously.

They were pretty awesome, and I don’t even like pickles (!). I do, however, make them for other people’s enjoyment. And Jay loves him some pickles.

Maple Whiskey pickles made with Cabin Fever whiskey!

If you’re too lazy to click a link, then here’s a little more in-depth copy + paste for ya from the original post:

… Maple-bourbon pickles. Inspired by the Brooklyn Brine Company’s Whiskey Sour pickles, which I first saw in Williams-Sonoma. I decided to make a jar or two of these for Jay. I’m not cheap, far from it, but paying $12.95 for 24 oz. of pickles seemed a bit… over-indulgent. Especially when I figured I could make them myself. At first he wasn’t sure how he’d feel about them, but then he had one of their pickles when he played a show at the St. Vitus Bar & raved about it, so I thought “Why not make one teensy jar of them & see?” It seemed unique enough. How bad could it be? It’s pickles + whiskey. That’s a pretty rock star pickle.

In case you’re wondering, [a Pickleback] is an actual thing you can order in some bars. That name for it originated at The Bushwick Country Club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2007. It’s a shot of whiskey (from what I’ve read, it’s usually Jameson, but at The Bushwick Country Club they use Old Crow) with a pickle juice, or brine, chaser (they use McClure’s [pickles]). The brine neutralizes the burn of the alcohol & the taste of the whiskey. Once I learned that, through a NYT article from almost 2 years ago, I thought the whiskey pickle idea was even more interesting.

I had high hopes back then that my versions of these two insanely genius pickles would be pretty awesome, if not perfectly awesome. And Jay confirmed that they were, noting that his favorite of the two (between the plain bourbon pickles & the maple-bourbon) was indeed the batch with maple syrup.

Jay is a big pickle guy, but he said those were probably his favorites of all the ones I made (until he had the hop pickles– but that’s another story). Anyway, he had a bunch of pickles open in the fridge and then Superstorm Sandy hit & knocked out the power FOR YEARS & YEARS. Or a few weeks. Whatever. And then after weeks of sitting in a refrigerator that wasn’t on, all those pickle jars had to be thrown away, whether they were almost empty or practically full. It was very sad to see all that work tossed in the garbage- especially since I only had a few unopened jars of pickles left and none of them were the bourbon pickles. *insert long sigh*

Maple whiskey pickle prep

But alas… the story continues. You see, a friend of Jay’s owns a bar in Brooklyn called The Monro Pub. And through him Jay discovered this whiskey called Cabin Fever, which is essentially Grade B dark maple syrup blended with 80 proof whiskey.

For real. This is a thing.

Cabin Fever maple whiskey pickles

And upon hearing of such a wondrous thing, and then tasting such a wondrous thing, I decided that the only thing left to do would be to remake those maple-whiskey pickles using this delectable & convenient whiskey product. Not to mention the fact that now I have a better camera, so I can take nicer pictures of these lovely little pickles.

I know, it’s not really pickling season yet. But like I said last week about those strawberry jam cakes… sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

MARILLA’S SUPER AWESOME MAPLE-WHISKEY PICKLES WITH CABIN FEVER WHISKEY

Makes about 2 pints, recipe can be doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 small pickling cucumbers (about 1- 1 1/2 pounds), or regular cucumbers if you’re going to slice them into chips… I usually use Kirby’s myself (just don’t use the large waxed ones! Persian cucumbers are okay, not perfect but they’ll work)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons Cabin Fever maple whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon pickling salt
  • 2 heads fresh dill, or 2 sprigs of fresh dill PLUS 1/2 heaping teaspoon dill seeds, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
  • a dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of hot pepper flakes or one half of a small Serrano chili pepper, finely diced
  • dash of chili powder- OPTIONAL
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • a few slices of onions (“rings”)- OPTIONAL

Directions:

  1. Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. This prevents a “mushy” pickle, as the ends of cucumbers contain an enzyme that makes them mushy. Then slice cucumbers as you like- slices, spears or sandwich-size; or leave them whole. Place jars in canner to sterilize them and place lids in hot water to soften seal.
  2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove hot jars from canner. Pour 3 tablespoons Cabin Fever maple whiskey in each jar. Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 heaping teaspoon dill seeds, onion (if using), 1/4 teaspoon pickling spice, the mustard seed, black pepper, onions, hot pepper flakes and 1 minced clove of garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers tightly.
  3. Pour boiling vinegar/water mixture over cucumbers to within ½ inch of rim (head space). Place lids & bands. Process 10 minutes for pint jars and 15 minutes for quart jars.
  4. Allow jars to sit for at least one week before opening for optimal flavor, but no one will kill you if you crack one open early.

Maple whiskey pickle jar... ready for cucumbers & brine!

Cabin Fever is definitely the whiskey to use for this. It makes it easier, kills two birds with one stone, whatever cliche you want to use. It takes the guesswork out of finding both a good quality maple syrup & a good whiskey (especially if you’re whiskey-stupid like I am). I usually depend on Jay to tell me what’s whiskey, what’s bourbon, what’s rye & what just plain sucks. But then there’s always the problem of making sure you’ve got a nice maple syrup that isn’t just 90% high-fructose corn syrup colored brown. This way, I know I can use this and it’ll work out just fine and not taste like gasoline pickles.

If you’re interested in the original recipe (using bourbon & maple syrup), then follow your nose here. Included in that post is also a recipe for plain bourbon pickles, and whiskey can definitely be substituted as you see fit.

Speaking of whiskey- I found a new favorite blog: Pork & Whisk(e)y.

Maple whiskey pickles!

Note: please follow all the appropriate canning procedures when creating your pickles. I will not be held responsible for your botulism related medical issues and/or death. Make sure you know what you’re doing before attempting to jar any shelf-stable food products. Alternately, make them according to the recipe and as soon as the jars are cooled, place them in the refrigerator.

Pickles made with Cabin Fever maple whiskey! on Punk Domestics

A four-day weekend: it’s like buttah.

So this is what I do two days after Thanksgiving: I make maple-pumpkin butter. Thanks Marisa.

;

It’s been a maple-y kinda holiday for me I guess, between these little things & this sauce, and now this recipe. But when you’ve got a lot of delicious, quality maple syrup and you’re taunted with amazing recipes and you’ve got all this pumpkin…! I can’t really resist. Plus, this time of year is when there’s more pumpkin than you can ever eat at once- whether it’s canned pumpkin, or it’s whole pumpkins. So why not make something like this that’s freezable. That way you can enjoy a little taste of fall in the winter, or even spring.

If it lasts that long.

Are you Americans enjoying your 4-day weekend (if you get one, unlike Jay)? Did you have any “projects” this weekend, like my pumpkin butter?