Vegan Food Nerd

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Spicy Beer Brined Pickles and Garlic Dill Pickles


Pickles Pickles Pickles! This is a super fun canning project, because it’s quite easy and you can adapt your spices and flavourings to suit your tastes. We experimented with a bunch of different brines and flavourings and I am going to share our Spicy Beer Brined Pickle recipe with you. Scroll down for Garlic Dill Pickles!

Now, keep in mind, that pickle recipes can be a bit difficult to measure out. We bought one small basket of pickling cucumbers and it ended up making over 6 litres in total of jarred pickles. (Not completely sure on the weight, maybe 6-8 lbs?). We started with a small pot of brine, and then made more brine as we kept cutting up the cucumbers and filling jars. The brine is really easy to make, and comes to a boil quickly, so feel free to start with the recipe here (especially if you don’t have a lot of cucumbers) and then make more as you need it to minimize waste.


  • We processed our jars for a longer shelf life. This does make the cucumbers a bit softer.
  • Please be aware of proper canning techniques before attempting this recipe. We used a water bath canner, small pot to keep lids/seals warm, a metal ladle, canning tongs, canning funnel, etc. You will need to sterilize your jars prior to filling.
  • Feel free to experiment slightly with the amount of spice, garlic, and dill. In some jars I added double the garlic, while in others I increased or decreased the dill and pickling spice.
  • You can make your own pickling spice by the way – but it was really cheap at the Bulk Barn so I used the premixed kind for both these pickles and the pickled jalapeno recipe I had shared in a previous post.
  • You can also use more beer and reduce it on the stove to get it down to two cups for a stronger beer flavour. If you do not do this the beer flavour is quite subtle.


2 cups beer
2 cups vinegar (white distilled)
1 tbsp pickling salt
pinch of sugar
pickling cucumbers, washed and scrubbed (at least 3 lbs, if using more double or triple brine recipe as needed)
1/2 tbsp pickling spice (if using medium jars – 500 ml)
1 clove of garlic per jar – cut into chunks, slices, or diced
a few sprigs of fresh dill heads per jar (optional)
1 small hot cherry pepper – cut into chunks, slices, or diced


1) In a medium saucepan combine beer, vinegar, pickling salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar.

2) Prepare cucumbers by cutting off the blossom end and then cutting into slices, quarters or rounds. We preferred quarters, but also tested a few other shapes in some of our other brines.

3) In sterilized jars, add 1/2 tbsp of pickling spice, garlic and hot peppers to each. Add dill heads if using.

4) Pack pickles in as tightly as possible, trimming if necessary to fit the size of the jar.

5) Pour super hot brine into jars, and seal.

6) Repeat until you have no cucumbers left. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and place on a kitchen towel or newspaper in a draft free location for at least 24 hours. Check to make sure seals have popped.

Wait 1 week minimum before tasting.

Garlic Dill Pickle Recipe


Similar to the recipe above, you may need to make more brine depending on how many pickles you have to make.


2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp pickling salt
pickling cucumbers, washed and scrubbed (at least 3 lbs, if using more double or triple brine recipe)
1-2 cloves of garlic per jar (sliced, diced or in chunks)
1 tbsp of pickling spice per 1 L jar
1/2 tsp dill seed per 1 L jar
4-6 fresh dill heads per 1 L jar


1) In a medium saucepan combine water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt.

2) Prepare cucumbers by cutting off the blossom end and then cutting into slices, quarters or rounds. We preferred quarters, but tried a few other shapes with this brine.

3) In sterilized jars, add pickling spice, garlic, dill spice and fresh dill heads to each per the amounts suggested above.

4) Pack pickles in as tightly as possible, trimming if necessary to fit the size of the jar. You may end up with a few of your quarters cut in half but they will still taste great.

5) Pour super hot brine into jars, and seal.

6) Repeat until you have no cucumbers left. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and place on a kitchen towel or newspaper in a draft free location for at least 24 hours. Check to make sure seals have popped.

Wait 1 week minimum before tasting.


you can also make some smaller jars as they make great gifts. just adjust your spices as needed.


try adding some dried hot chillies for a spicy version!


Pickled Jalapenos

20140908_090606I know, I know, another canning post. Canning and pickling season is upon us though! I’m not actually hugely into spicey things – I’m a bit of a spice wuss if you may – but I do like an added kick for certain foods and have been learning to tolerate our variety of hot sauces we like to use! These pickled jalapenos were done more as an experiment for the dude in my life, because he loves them, and it’s nice to have your own homemade products and all. We actually just picked up 4 large jalapenos from our farmer’s market and this made two 250 ml jars of pickles plus one 125 ml jar (which is plenty for us, but you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe as you please!) It’s nice to experiment though, so if you don’t want to commit to a large canning job, this is a good one to try out.


  • As always, please ensure you have an understanding of proper canning techniques before attempting this.
  • I used a water bath canner, small pot for jars/lids, medium pot for the brine, metal ladle, funnel, 2 250 ml mason jars with lids and seals, 1 125 ml jar with lid/seal, canning tongs and the magnetic lid/seal picker upper.
  • The slices have a tendency to float so you can probably pack them in more tightly in the two larger jars and forgo the 3rd smaller jar.
  • These are spicy! They have a great flavour though.


4 large jalapenos
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp pickling salt
1 1/4 tsp pickling spices
1 garlic clove


1) Wash and dry jalapenos, and slice each, removing the stem end.


20140906_1802152) Prepare brine by combing water, vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil in your saucepan.

3) Prepare jars by sterilizing in a water bath or in an oven at 275 F.

4) Add 1/2 tsp of pickling spice and a 1/4 of a clove of garlic to each of your 250 ml jars. Use half of that for smaller jars or depending on your tastes you may want to add a bit more garlic and pickling spice to each jar.

5) Pack jalapeno slices into each jar, and fill with brine, leaving 1/4″ of space at the top. Use a knife or chopstick and insert into the jar and move around the perimeter of the jar to remove air bubbles.

6) Process in your water bath for 10 minutes. Let sit for a week in a cool, draft free area before opening!

Makes 2-3 jars.

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Easy canned tomatoes

20140908_090534So, canning season means another canning post! We had an abundance of roma tomatoes growing in the garden so we decided to quickly jar them using my old family method. It’s really simple and worthwhile to have some fresh tomatoes to use in the winter. These would be useful in a quick sauce, soups or anywhere else you would use canned tomatoes. We actually only got a few jars out of our garden tomatoes, so we’re planning on getting a basket or two at the market to can some more!


  • If you are not familiar with proper canning techniques, please do a bit of research as this post may not include all necessary steps.
  • I used 500ml mason jars, lids and seals, a water bath canner, canning tongs and a magnetic lid/seal lifter. Also, a separate large pot for blanching the tomatoes, a small pot for keeping the lids and seals warm, and a large bowl with ice water.


Roma tomatoes (about 10-12 per jar but this is size dependent)

20140908_0905281) Fill your large pot with water and bring to a boil. Wash your tomatoes and go through removing any bad spots or bad tomatoes.

2) Cut a small slit in your tomatoes and place in your boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and put into your ice water bowl.

3) Peel tomato skins – they should fall right off. If not, keep your tomatoes in the boiling water for a little bit longer.


peeled tomatoes

4) Cut each tomato in half and remove some of the seeds. You don’t have to remove every last one!



5) Prepare your mason jars (sterilize in a water bath or in the oven at 275 F). While the jars are still hot, put 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar and 1-3 basil leaves in the bottom of each. This is for 500 ml jars so if using 1 L jars, double this!


6) Now you can pack in your tomato halves. Get as many in the jar as you can – packing them slightly. Close your jar with a seal and screw lid on tightly.


7) Process your jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

8) Remove jars with your canning tongs and place upside down on a tea towel or newspaper and leave for 24 hours to cool. After 24 hours check to make sure your seals popped.


Makes as many jars as you have tomatoes to fill them!


Bourbon Vanilla Peach Jam and Vegan MoFo

I just wanted to add an update to my peach jam recipe, as I tried a new combination and it’s really wonderful! You can use the exact same recipe, but add in a half cup of bourbon and 1-2 vanilla beans scraped into the peach mixture and allow it all to cook together. I also threw the vanilla pod in to add some more vanilla flavour and removed it before filling jars. The jam came out really yummy!


This month is also Vegan Month of Food. I am going to do my best to blog as many recipes as I can during this time period. I’m already feeling the pressure though as the new school year starts this week and I’m getting back into a new routine with my teaching schedule. I’ve also been asked to do some more admin work on my non teaching days until the end of October so the extra cooking/baking time I’d planned on having won’t exist. I still think I can update at least every other day though!

Thanks for checking in and I hope you leave a comment if you try a recipe and have any suggestions – or let me know if it just works out for you!

Tomorrow: Zucchini banana bread with nuts and chocolate chips!

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Peach Jam


There are a more than a few food memories from my past, but one of the fondest has to be peach jam. My mom used to do batches of this as well as apricot jam for many years, but I never tried to make either myself. This is the first time I made peach jam, and well, I think I’ll be keeping most of the jars for myself! The perfectly ripe Ontario peaches are captured perfectly in this jam with very few additional ingredients. I prefer not to use pectin in my jams as I prefer the flavour and texture produced without it, so I like to add lemon and sometimes apple for some more natural pectin that helps the jam to set up.

We decided to go peach picking at a nearby orchard since we had the time, and the red havens (freestone variety) were perfectly ripe. It also takes surprisingly little time to fill up two large baskets. I recently read that the grocery store peaches are bred to be tougher to withstand transport and packing methods, so I recommend the orchard peaches.



  • If you have never done any canning before, please look up proper canning methods and ensure you have all necessary tools! I used a water bath canner, a funnel, canning tongs, a metal lid tool (to pick them out of the hot water), a metal ladle, a stock pot for my jam, a small pot for my lids and then the pot I used to blanch the peaches in.
  • When mashing the jam, I mostly got rid of the larger chunks but prefer my jam to have some pieces of fruit throughout. You could also transfer the peaches to a food processor first and pulse to your desired consistency if you want a more pureed texture.
  • It can be tempting to walk away from the pot while it is cooking, but be careful as you don’t want anything to burn.
  • If you’re not sure if your jam has set, you can do a freezer test. Just put a plate into the freezer and remove it after 10-15 minutes, place a spoonful of jam on the plate and return it to the freezer for a few minutes. Run your finger through the jam on the plate and if it doesn’t run back together it should be good to go.
  • After canning 6 jars, we decided to infuse some different flavours into the last 3. Just stir in a bit of cinnamon, cloves and freshly ground nutmeg into the jam left in the pot and allow to cook for about a minute. It doesn’t take long to take on the spiced flavour and a little goes a long way.


6 lbs of peaches (roughly 15-18 large peaches)
4 cups of sugar
1 granny smith apple
1 large lemon, or 1 1/2 medium lemons

1) Blanch the peaches to remove the skins really easily. To do this, get a pot of boiling water on and submerge 5-6 peaches at a time. Cutting a small slit into the skin before putting them in the pot makes the skins even easier to remove. Remove from the boiling water after 1 minute and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool down.

2) The skins should just peel right off, but if you have any stubborn sections use a paring knife to remove the skin.

3) Remove the pits by cutting all the way around the peaches and pulling the halves apart – this should be very easy to do with the freestone peaches. Cut into pieces and put into your jam pot.

4) Continue blanching and cutting your peaches into the pot, and every 5 peaches or so squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto the peaches and stir to coat. This will prevent browning and the lemon juice also adds a natural pectin source.

5) When you have finished this process, transfer pot to the stove on medium heat and add sugar.

6) Use a potato masher to mash the sugar and peaches together until you achieve your desired consistency. This helps the sugar dissolve.

7) Grate your apple directly into the pot and squeeze in the rest of the lemon (again for the natural pectin to help your jam set).


8) Continue to cook your jam over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Be sure to stir often to prevent it from burning.

9) Once boiling continue cooking (do not reduce the temperature) for anywhere from 30-50 minutes until your jam thickens, stirring frequently.  Our peaches were incredibly juicy so it took a little longer to get to the consistency we were looking for.

10) Skim any foam that remains at the end of the cooking time and place into jars.

11) Process in your water bath for ten minutes, remove jars to cool and listen to the sweet sound of your seals popping.

Makes 9 jars.