So after working in the garden last weekend I spent much of the rest of the day in the kitchen doing a couple of things I haven’t really done before…canning and making cheese.
Now, technically I have canned before. Last summer I spent an entire day working with my Mom to can 80 quarts of pickles. But this was supervised, and my role mostly consisted of scrubbing hundreds of cucumbers and packing jars. So when I set out to make good use of our over-abundance of snap beans by canning them as dilly beans, I had just a little self doubt. But I charged ahead anyway. I’ve been wanting to learn to can for some time, and the directions for making dill beans are so incredibly straight forward and simple it seemed ridiculous to be afraid.
So I sanitized my jars and lids, cooked up the brine, and readied a giant pot of water. In go the beans to the jars, mix in a sprig of dill seed and a clove of garlic, cover with brine, cap the jar, and into the giant pot of water it goes. Ten minutes later, pop out the jars and let rest undisturbed. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?
I canned seven pints of dill beans. For some reason, two didn’t seal so they’ve become refrigerator beans. I popped open a jar this week and tried them. Pretty strong still, but tasty. It’s recommended the canned jars rest for about six weeks prior to eating, which is ok with me because I like looking at them on my kitchen counter, all shiny and clean. I’m a proud parent to these little jars of beans.
While I was canning I also was multitasking and making my first batch of cheese. My Aunt Julie had given me a gallon of goat milk from her farm (Carl B’s Farm) and recommended I make cheese. Again, the instructions she gave were so incredibly simple, how could I not take her up on it? Plus, how frickin’ cool is it to say, “Yeah, I’ve made cheese.” So, following her instruction, in a large pot I heated the milk to 185 degrees, then added a half cup of vinegar. I also threw in a large handful of chopped dill from the garden. I allowed this to sit for about 10 minutes, then began scooping the curd out with a slotted spoon. I didn’t get a picture of the cheese in this state because honestly it looked a little sketchy (maybe a little like spit-up…)and I wasn’t sure I’d done it right. After all the curd was removed I strained it through a cheese cloth until it resembled a soft cheese. I topped it with some garlic salt and put it in the fridge to cool. Once it was thoroughly cooled, I pulled it out and sliced off a few pieces. DELISH! It’s a mild cheese, but the dill and garlic salt make it deliciously yummy. Wyatt and I pulled out some crackers and savored the cheese. I have to admit, it’s been disappearing pretty fast this week. We’re definitely going to be making some of this simple, delectable cheese again soon.
So, a few more self-sufficiency skills under the belt. It’s such an amazing feeling to open the fridge and see homemade cheese and home-canned beans sitting next to a bag of fresh swiss chard and a bowl of beets from the garden. And it really was soooo easy!