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Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention VI

posted by: tapla on 01.28.2009 at 09:37 am in Container Gardening Forum

I first posted this thread back in March of 05. Five times it has reached the maximum number of posts to a single thread (150), which is much more attention than I ever imagined it would garner. I have reposted it, in no small part, because it has been a wonderful catalyst in the forging of new friendships and in increasing my list of acquaintances with similar growing interests. The forum and email exchanges that stem so often from the subject are in themselves, enough to make me hope the subject continues to pique interest and hopefully, the exchanges provide helpful information. Most of the motivation for posting this thread again comes from the participants reinforcement of the idea that some of the information provided in good-spirited collective exchange will make some degree of difference in the level of satisfaction of many readers growing experience.

I'll provide links to the previous five threads at the end of what I have written - in case you have interest in reviewing them. Thank you for taking the time to look into this subject - I hope that any/all who read it take at least something interesting and helpful from it. I know it's long, but I hope you find it worth the read.


Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention - A Discussion About Soils
As container gardeners, our first priority should be to insure the soils we use are adequately aerated for the life of the planting, or in the case of perennial material (trees, shrubs, garden perennials), from repot to repot. Soil aeration/drainage is the most important consideration in any container planting. Soils are the foundation that all container plantings are built on, and aeration is the very cornerstone of that foundation. Since aeration and drainage are inversely linked to soil particle size, it makes good sense to try to find and use soils or primary components with particles larger than peat. Durability and stability of soil components so they contribute to the retention of soil structure for extended periods is also extremely important. Pine and some other types of conifer bark fit the bill nicely, but Ill talk more about various components later.

What I will write also hits pretty hard against the futility in using a drainage layer of coarse materials as an attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the total volume of soil available for root colonization. A wick can be employed to remove water from the saturated layer of soil at the container bottom, but a drainage layer is not effective. A wick can be made to work in reverse of the self-watering pots widely being discussed on this forum now.

Since there are many questions about soils appropriate for use in containers, I'll post basic mix recipes later, in case any would like to try the soil. It will follow the Water Movement information.

Consider this if you will:

Soil fills only a few needs in container culture. Among them are: Anchorage - A place for roots to extend, securing the plant and preventing it from toppling. Nutrient Retention - It must retain enough nutrients in available form to sustain plant systems. Gas Exchange - It must be sufficiently porous to allow air to move through the root system and by-product gasses to escape. Water - It must retain water enough in liquid and/or vapor form to sustain plants between waterings. Most plants can be grown without soil as long as we can provide air, nutrients, and water, (witness hydroponics). Here, I will concentrate primarily on the movement of water in soil(s).

There are two forces that cause water to move through soil - one is gravity, the other capillary action. Gravity needs little explanation, but for this writing I would like to note: Gravitational flow potential (GFP) is greater for water at the top of the container than it is for water at the bottom. I'll return to that later. Capillarity is a function of the natural forces of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion is water's tendency to stick to solid objects like soil particles and the sides of the pot. Cohesion is the tendency for water to stick to itself. Cohesion is why we often find water in droplet form - because cohesion is at times stronger than adhesion; in other words, waters bond to itself can be stronger than the bond to the object it might be in contact with; in this condition it forms a drop. Capillary action is in evidence when we dip a paper towel in water. The water will soak into the towel and rise several inches above the surface of the water. It will not drain back into the source, and it will stop rising when the GFP equals the capillary attraction of the fibers in the paper.

There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .125 (1/8) inch.. This is water that occupies a layer of soil that is always saturated & will not drain from the portion of the pot it occupies. It can evaporate or be used by the plant, but physical forces will not allow it to drain. It is there because the capillary pull of the soil at some point will surpass the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is perched. The smaller the size of the particles in a soil, the greater the height of the PWT. This water can be tightly held in heavy (comprised of small particles) soils and perch (think of a bird on a perch) just above the container bottom where it will not drain; or, it can perch in a layer of heavy soil on top of a coarse drainage layer, where it will not drain.

Imagine that we have five cylinders of varying heights, shapes, and diameters, each with drain holes, and we fill them all with the same soil mix, then saturate the soil. The PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the container is where roots initially seldom penetrate & where root problems frequently begin due to a lack of aeration. Water and nutrient uptake are also compromised by lack of air in the root zone. Keeping in mind the fact that the PWT height is dependent on soil particle size and has nothing to do with height or shape of the container, we can draw the conclusion that: Tall growing containers will always have a higher percentage of unsaturated soil than squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. From this, we could make a good case that taller containers are easier to grow in.

A given volume of large soil particles has less overall surface area when compared to the same volume of small particles and therefore less overall adhesive attraction to water. So, in soils with large particles, GFP more readily overcomes capillary attraction. They drain better. We all know this, but the reason, often unclear, is that the height of the PWT is lower in coarse soils than in fine soils. The key to good drainage is size and uniformity of soil particles. Mixing large particles with small is often very ineffective because the smaller particles fit between the large, increasing surface area which increases the capillary attraction and thus the water holding potential. An illustrative question: How much perlite do we need to add to pudding to make it drain well?

We have seen that adding a coarse drainage layer at the container bottom does not improve drainage. It does though, reduce the volume of soil required to fill a container, making the container lighter. When we employ a drainage layer in an attempt to improve drainage, what we are actually doing is moving the level of the PWT higher in the pot. This simply reduces the volume of soil available for roots to colonize. Containers with uniform soil particle size from top of container to bottom will yield better and more uniform drainage and have a lower PWT than containers using the same soil with drainage layers.

The coarser the drainage layer, the more detrimental to drainage it is because water is more (for lack of a better scientific word) reluctant to make the downward transition because the capillary pull of the soil above the drainage layer is stronger than the GFP. The reason for this is there is far more surface area on soil particles for water to be attracted to in the soil above the drainage layer than there is in the drainage layer, so the water perches. I know this goes against what most have thought to be true, but the principle is scientifically sound, and experiments have shown it as so. Many nurserymen employ the pot-in-pot or the pot-in-trench method of growing to capitalize on the science.

If you discover you need to increase drainage, you can simply insert an absorbent wick into a drainage hole & allow it to extend from the saturated soil in the container to a few inches below the bottom of the pot, or allow it to contact soil below the container where the earth acts as a giant wick and will absorb all or most of the perched water in the container, in most cases. Eliminating the PWT has much the same effect as providing your plants much more soil to grow in, as well as allowing more, much needed air in the root zone.

In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they starve/"suffocate" because there is insufficient air at the root zone to insure normal water/nutrient uptake and root function.

Bark fines of fir, hemlock or pine, are excellent as the primary component of your soils. The lignin contained in bark keeps it rigid and the rigidity provides air-holding pockets in the root zone far longer than peat or compost mixes that too quickly break down to a soup-like consistency. Conifer bark also contains suberin, a lipid sometimes referred to as natures preservative. Suberin, more scarce as a presence in sapwood products and hardwood bark, dramatically slows the decomposition of conifer bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and how effective a wick is at removing it, try this experiment: Fill a soft drink cup nearly full of garden soil. Add enough water to fill to the top, being sure all soil is saturated. Punch a drain hole in the bottom of the cup and allow the water to drain. When drainage has stopped, insert a wick into the drain hole . Take note of how much additional water drains. Even touching the soil with a toothpick through the drain hole will cause substantial additional water to drain. The water that drains is water that occupied the PWT. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick or toothpick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper than it is, so water begins to move downward seeking the "new" bottom of the pot, pulling the rest of the water in the PWT along with it. If there is interest, there are other simple and interesting experiments you can perform to confirm the existence of a PWT in container soils. I can expand later in the thread.

I always remain cognizant of these physical principles whenever I build a soil. I havent used a commercially prepared soil in many years, preferring to build a soil or amend one of my 2 basic mixes to suit individual plantings. I keep many ingredients at the ready for building soils, but the basic building process usually starts with conifer bark and perlite. Sphagnum peat plays a secondary role in my container soils because it breaks down too quickly to suit me, and when it does, it impedes drainage and reduces aeration. Size matters. Partially composted conifer bark fines (pine is easiest to find and least expensive) works best in the following recipes, followed by uncomposted bark in the <3/8" range.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, as most of you think of it, can improve drainage in some cases, but it reduces aeration by filling valuable macro-pores in soils. Unless sand particle size is fairly uniform and/or larger than about BB size I leave it out of soils. Compost is too unstable for me to consider using in soils. The small amount of micro-nutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources.

My Basic Soils

5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime (or gypsum in some cases)
controlled release fertilizer (if preferred)
micro-nutrient powder, other continued source of micro-nutrients, or fertilizer with all nutrients - including minors

Big batch:
2-3 cu ft pine bark fines
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
2 cups dolomitic (garden) lime (or gypsum in some cases)
2 cups CRF (if preferred)
1/2 cup micro-nutrient powder (or other source of the minors)

Small batch:
3 gallons pine bark
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
4 tbsp lime (or gypsum in some cases)
1/4 cup CRF (if preferred)
micro-nutrient powder (or other source of the minors)

I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all container soils are highly organic) container soils are productive for up to 5 years or more. I disagree and will explain why if there is interest. Even if you were to substitute fir bark for pine bark in this recipe (and this recipe will long outlast any peat based soil) you should only expect a maximum of two to three years life before a repot is in order. Usually perennials, including trees (they're perennials too) should be repotted more frequently to insure vigor closer to their genetic potential. If a soil is desired that will retain structure for long periods, we need to look more to inorganic components. Some examples are crushed granite, pea stone, coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface or Schultz soil conditioner, and others.

For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.

1 part uncomposted pine or fir bark
1 part Turface
1 part crushed granite
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil
CRF (if desired)
Source of micro-nutrients or use a fertilizer that contains all essentials
I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg.

Thank you for your interest.

If there is additional interest, please find previous postings here:
Posting V
Posting IV
Posting III
Posting II
Posting I



clipped on: 03.10.2009 at 08:17 pm    last updated on: 03.10.2009 at 08:17 pm

Earls Hole Method of Growing Tomatoes

posted by: earl on 01.15.2007 at 03:02 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

Earls Hole Method of Growing Tomatoes

Items from Walmart type garden center, 40 lb. bags of Composted Peat Humus, 40 lb. bags of Composted Cow Manure, Epson Salt and Bonemeal and Espoma Tomato-tone 4-7-10 fertilizer or equivalent .

In raised beds, after tilling, I dig good sized holes about 2 feet across, scattering the soil around the hole. Then to each hole I add bag of the peat humus, 1/4 bag of the manure, then I scatter about the hole a handful each of Epson salts, Bonemeal and Espoma. Then I use a spade fork to mix the formula VERY well some inches beyond the depth and width of the original hole. If plants are indeterminate they should be planted at least 4 feet apart.

I then, using my hands, I make a hole in the center of this mixture and plant the seedlings. If seedlings are tall I strip off the leaves except for the top few inches, and lay it at an angle or on its side in the hole and cover up to the leaves. Then I form a 4 inch deep water holding basin [a crater] about 1 1/2 feet across and around the plant, then mulch the plants and bed with straw or grass clippings, then water. Last I spread a handful of granular fertilizer such as Espoma Tomato-tone 4-7-10 on top of the mulch around the plants so it will leach into soil over time and feed the outer roots for they grow wide and deep. I use concrete wire cages 18-20 inches across and anchor them with rebar driven deep next to the cage. When I have to water, if I dont get rain in 7-10 days, I stick an open ended hose at the base of the plants and give them a couple gallons.

Never over water. The plants leaves will tell you theyre thirsty by drooping a bit. As the plants grow, to help prevent leaf disease, trim any branches that droop and touch the mulch.

During late summer if I think they need it I'll give each plant a couple gallons of fish emulsion or what ever liquid type I have. And if you have leaf problems, get started early using Daconil as soon as you plant, even saturate the mulch around the base as well as top and bottom of leaves.

I can't say this is the best way to do it, but it works for me.



clipped on: 07.12.2008 at 06:50 pm    last updated on: 07.12.2008 at 06:50 pm

Heinz pickles (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: linda_lou on 08.18.2006 at 09:12 pm in Harvest Forum

This is what I use, It seems to be just about half the amount of Chase's recipe, except I use the ratio of vinegar called for. If I open them and they seem a bit tart, I add a pinch of sugar. I use cider vinegar since it tastes more mild.
Sorry, you know my opinion based on USDA guidelines about the safety of less vinegar than that. The problem with botulism is that you can't see, taste or smell it. So, it is up to you if you are willing to take that chance. I sure don't recommend it.
Annie, I am surprised ! I would have processed them and not told him.
Kosher Dill

4 lbs pickling cukes
14 cloves garlic, peeled & split
1/4 cup salt
3 cups distilled or apple cider vinegar 5% acidity
3 cups water
12 to 14 sprigs fresh dill weed
28 peppercorns

Wash cucumbers; remove 1/16 inch from blossom end, cut in half lengthwise. Combine garlic and next 3 ingredients; heat to boiling. Remove garlic and place 4 halves into each clean jar, then pack cucumbers, adding 2 sprigs of dill and 4 peppercorns. Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch of top. Immediately adjust covers as jar manufacturer directs. Process 10 minutes in BWB. Makes 6-7 pints.


clipped on: 06.05.2008 at 01:11 pm    last updated on: 06.05.2008 at 01:12 pm

What do you like best??

posted by: girlsingardens on 08.18.2006 at 03:44 pm in Harvest Forum

With all the wild and crazy things that I have been canning lately I started thinking about what I like the best out of the things I can. My dill pickles are soooo good. I opened a jar from 2004 and they are still crisp and crunchy. The ones from last year are the same and haven't gotten into the ones from this year yet.

Here is the recipe that I use

pickling cukes ( smaller the better)
1 quart vinnegar
3 quarts water
1 cup salt
1 ts alum

I have used pickle crisp the last few years. I pack cukes, dill seed and dill weed. Boil the brine and pour into jars. Process quarts in bwb for 15 minutes.

So what do you like best to make and what do you make best. Recipes would also be great;)


clipped on: 06.05.2008 at 12:52 pm    last updated on: 06.05.2008 at 12:53 pm

RE: Sweet Jalapeno Pickles Recipe? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: booberry85 on 08.22.2006 at 01:44 pm in Harvest Forum

Someone posted this recipe last year. It looked good to me although I haven't tried it yet. Hope this is what you're looking for.

Title: Recipe: Bread and Butter Jalapenos
Board: Canning and Preserving at
From: Terry,Tx 5-29-1998
Donated by David Lyons lyonscage
This makes a very tasty and spicy addition to almost any meal.
Bread and Butter Jalapenos
4 lbs jalepeno peppers
2 lbs onions
3 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs mustard seed
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ginger
Wash and cut jalapenos and onions into thin slices and cold pack into jars (I would suggest a pair of rubber gloves for handling jalapenos, personal experience!). Place remaining ingredients in large saucepot and bring to a boil. Pour hot mixture into jars,leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water
bath. Yield: about 7 Pints.


clipped on: 06.05.2008 at 12:22 pm    last updated on: 06.05.2008 at 12:22 pm

RE: Sweet Jalapeno Pickles Recipe? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: mellyofthesouth on 08.22.2006 at 02:39 pm in Harvest Forum

Or could it be something like this:
This one is not canned.
Cowboy Candy
1 1/4 cups sliced fresh jalapenos
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 drop green food coloring (optional)

1. Slice jalapenos, and place in a small sauce pan.
2. Add water and sugar.
3. Cook over medium heat until boiling.
4. Reduce temperature to low, and simmer until the liquid has reduced, and the sugar water has become syrup-like (about 15- 20 minutes depending on temperature of heat source).
5. Let cool and place in clean jelly jar.
6. Store in refrigerator.

Here is another one. Not sure whether it is actually safe to can. I would seriously doubt either one of these has enough acid.
Cajun Candy
1 lb green jalapenos, sliced
1 lb ripe red jalapenos, sliced
2 sweet yellow onions, sliced
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
4 cups sugar
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp celery seed
1 Tbsp mustard seed
4-5 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin
Pinch of salt

Slice Jalapenos into 1/4" slices and slice the onions. I suggest wearing rubber gloves while handling the jalapenos and DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE!

Place jalapenos & onions in pan with water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer/steam until tender (about 10 minutes.) Do not breath fumes. Pour off the mixture into a strainer, reserving cup of the water and vinegar.

Return the cup water/vinegar liquid to the pan, and add the sugar and spices, cook for a few minutes to completely disolve the sugar...then return the peppers & onions and the sliced garlic to the pan with the sugar/spice syrup. Mix well, and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.

Place boiling mixture into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Put on caps and place rings on snugly. Process in boiling water bath for about 5 minutes. Cool & refridgerate after opening a jar.

Now, once you've made the candied jalapenos....and have a jar of them in the fridge - for a special treat, try mixing some of them 50/50 with Smucker's Peach Preserves for a FANTASTIC peach/jalapeno chutney! Great with smoked pork loin, grilled chicken, etc.

And one more
Candied Jalapenos
Cowboy Candy
This makes a very tasty and spicy addition to almost any meal.
4 lbs fresh jalepeno peppers sliced
2 lbs onions diced
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
6 to 8 cups sugar depending on your sweet tooth I like more
2 Tbs mustard seed
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery seed (optional)
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp ginger
Slice Jalapenos into thin slices and dice onions (I would suggest a pair of rubber gloves for handling jalapenos, personal experience, do not touch your face!). Place in pan with water and vinegar,bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer about 10 min or until tender. (do not breath fumes) . Pour off most of the water vinegar mixture, add the sugar and spices bring to soft candy temperature to completly disolve sugarabout anothe 10 min. Place boiling mixture into jars,leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps.


clipped on: 06.05.2008 at 12:19 pm    last updated on: 06.05.2008 at 12:19 pm

RE: Reusing commerical pickle juice??? (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: breasley on 02.14.2006 at 01:25 pm in Harvest Forum

I found this Clausen recipe. I don't know if it's safe but it couldn't be much simpler. Maybe someone with expertise will chime in.

Clausen Kosher Dill Pickles

2 dill flowers
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 1/4 lbs. (8-10) pickling cucumbers
6 long sprigs fresh dill
1 Tbsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup white vinegar

Put dill flower and garlic in bottom of mason jar; add the cukes, put sprigs of
dill in center of cukes, add salt, vinegar, and fill jar with boiled water that
is now cool to within 1/8th of top. Put on seal and ring, shake to dissolve
salt, set upside down on counter away from sunlight and heat. Let sit 4-5 days
flipping the jar either upright or upside down each day. Let sit upright 2 more
days then refrigerate. Lasts about 6 months.


clipped on: 06.05.2008 at 11:47 am    last updated on: 06.05.2008 at 11:47 am

RE: LOOKING for: Out-of-the-Ordinary Recipe for Cookout (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: chase on 05.30.2008 at 03:53 pm in Recipe Exchange Forum

A great Steve Raichlen recipe!

Country Style BBQ Onions

8 medium Vidalias
1 can Bush country style baked beans
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 stick (4 TBSP) butter cup in 8 pieces, room temp
2 strips cooked bacon cut into 8 pieces of 2" each
fresh ground black pepper

Peel the onions. Carefully hollow out the onions leaving the base in tact. Chop the onion pieces you hollowed out and mix with the baked beans, brown sugar and BBQ sauce. Spoon mixture into the onions and top with the butter and bacon. Sprinkle with pepper. Grill onions on the grill using indirect heat and medium heat (350 degrees) for 40-60 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Notes: I use my own BBQ baked bean recipe. I often add some chipoltes in adobo sauce to the beans instead of BBQ sauce. Super served with pork tenderloin, ribs or chops.

Baked Beans

1 Can kidney beans drained
1 Can lima beans drained
2 Can Brown Beans
1 1/2 Cup of chili sauce
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbl molasses
3 Slices bacon cut in half

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium baking dish, mix kidney beans,lima beans, brown beanas, chili sauce, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and molasses. Top with bacon. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until thick and bubbly.

Grilled Potatoes With Three Cheeses

6 large potatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium onions chopped
1/3 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 Cup(4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese divided
1 Lb sliced bacon cooked and crumbled
1/4 Cup butter cubed
1 Tbl minced fresh or dried chives
1 to 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 Tsp pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Divide the potatoes and onions equally between two pieces of heavy duty foil (about 18 inches) that have been coated with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup each cheddar and mozzarella; sprinkle over potatoes and onions.~
3. Top with bacon, butter, chives, seasoned salt and pepper.
4. Bring opposite ends of foil together over filling and fold down several times. Fold unsealed ends toward filling and crimp tightly.
5. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 35 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
J6. Remove from the grill. Open foil carefully and sprinkle with remaining cheeses.

Serves: 6-8


clipped on: 06.03.2008 at 10:21 pm    last updated on: 06.03.2008 at 10:21 pm

RE: Pickling Newbie....Need Help! (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: linda_lou on 05.17.2008 at 01:16 am in Harvest Forum

This is my favorite recipe:
Kosher Dill (Heinz Recipe)

4 lbs pickling cukes
14 cloves garlic, peeled & split
1/4 cup salt
2 3/4 cups distilled or apple cider vinegar 5% acidity
2 3/4 cups water
12 to 14 sprigs fresh dill weed
28 peppercorns

Wash cucumbers; remove 1/16 inch from blossom end, cut in half lengthwise. Combine garlic and next 3 ingredients; heat to boiling. Remove garlic and place 4 halves into each clean jar, then pack cucumbers, adding 2 sprigs of dill and 4 peppercorns. Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch of top. Immediately adjust covers as jar manufacturer directs. Process 10 minutes in BWB. Makes 6-7 pints.
I actually prefer dried dill, I use 3 T. per pint.

Just make sure any recipe you use for a quick pack pickle is at least half 5 % acidity vinegar to prevent botulism. Cucumbers are low acid foods and must have that much added acid to make them safe. Lots of old recipes do not require that much because vinegar back then was much more acidic than ours. If they seem too tart, add a bit of sugar to offset the flavor. Cider vinegar tastes less sharp than white vinegar.
Also, I add Pickle crisp to each jar. It is same thing the commercial industry uses to keep them crisp. Buy with canning supplies in some stores.


clipped on: 06.03.2008 at 02:13 pm    last updated on: 06.03.2008 at 02:14 pm

RE: Canning / pickling peppers (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: smokemaster_2007 on 06.01.2008 at 05:53 pm in Hot Pepper Forum

This recipe can be used for pickling a combination of vegetables including chiles and bell peppers. Choose whatever mixture you desire, as well as the amount and type of chiles, and arrange them attractively in a jar before covering with the pickling solution. Be aware that some vegetables such as olives and mushrooms absorb capsaicin well and can become quite hot.

Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

Chiles: yellow hots, jalapeos, serranos

Cauliflower, broken in flowerets

Broccoli, broken in flowerets

Zucchini, unpeeled and thinly sliced

Carrots, cut in coins or use baby carrots

Pearl onions, peeled and left whole

Garlic cloves, whole

Small button mushrooms, whole

part water

part vinegar

1 teaspoon salt per pint of liquid

Wash the chiles and prick with a toothpick. Arrange your choice of vegetables and chiles in sterilized jars.

Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil and allow to boil for one minute. Pour over the vegetables, leaving no head space, and cover.

Allow the mixture to pickle for at least 2 to 3 weeks in a cool, dark place before serving.

Yield: Varies

Heat Scale: Varies
When working with hot peppers, wear plastic gloves while handling them, or wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face.

Use one of the following methods to blister and peel peppers:

Oven or Broiler Method: Place peppers in a hot oven (400 F) or broiler for 6 to 8 minutes until skins blister.

Range-Top Method: Cover hot burner, either gas or electric, with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes until skins blister.

Allow peppers to cool. Place in a pan and cover with a damp cloth. This will make peeling the peppers easier. After several minutes, peel each pepper.

Varieties: Hot or sweet, including chilies, jalapeno and pimiento.

Quantity: An average of 9 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 25 pounds and yields 20 to 30 pints an average of 1 pound per pint.

Quality: Select firm yellow, green or red peppers. Do not use soft or diseased peppers.

Procedure: Small peppers may be left whole; large peppers may be quartered. Remove cores and seeds; blister and peel peppers; flatten whole peppers. Add teaspoon of salt to each pint jar, if desired. Fill jars loosely with peppers and add fresh boiled water, leaving 1-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process half-pints or pints for 35 minutes at 11 pounds pressure in a dial gauge canner or at 10 pounds pressure in a weighted gauge canner.

Hungarian, banana, chili and jalapeno


4 pounds hot, long red, green or yellow peppers

3 pounds sweet red and green peppers, mixed

5 cups vinegar (5 percent acidity)

1 cup water

4 teaspoons canning or pickling salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cloves garlic

Yield: About 9 pints

Procedure: Wash peppers. If small peppers are left whole, slash two to four slits in each; quarter large peppers. Blanch in boiling water or blister in order to peel. Flatten small peppers.

Fill jars, leaving -inch headspace. Combine and heat other ingredients to boiling and simmer 10 minutes. Remove garlic. Add hot pickling solution over peppers, leaving -inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process pints or half-pints for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath at an altitude of less than 1000 feet or for 15 minutes at an altitude of 1001 to 3000 feet.

Bell, Hungarian, banana or jalapeno


4 pounds firm peppers

1 cup bottled lemon juice

2 cups white vinegar (5 percent acidity)

1 tablespoon oregano leaves

1 cup olive or salad oil

cup chopped onions

2 cloves garlic, quartered (optional)

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (optional)

Yield: About 9 half-pints.

Note: It is possible to adjust the intensity of pickled jalapeno peppers by using all hot jalapeno peppers (hot style) or blending with sweet and mild peppers (medium or mild style).

For hot style: Use 4 pounds jalapeno peppers.

For medium style: Use 2 pounds jalapeno peppers and 2 pounds sweet and mild peppers.

For mild style: Use 1 pound jalapeno peppers and 3 pounds sweet and mild peppers.

Select your favorite peppers. Peppers may be left whole; large peppers may be quartered. Wash, slash two to four slits in each pepper and blanch in boiling water or blister in order to peel tough-skinned hot peppers. After peppers are peeled, flatten whole peppers.

Mix all remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Place one-quarter garlic clove (optional) and teaspoon salt in each half-pint or teaspoon per pint. Fill jars with peppers; add hot, well-mixed oil/pickling solution over peppers, leaving -inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process half-pints and pints for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath at altitudes of less than 1000 feet. If at an altitude of 1001 to 3000 feet, process for 20 minutes.


7 pounds firm bell peppers

3 cups sugar

3 cups vinegar (5 percent acidity)

3 cups water

9 cloves garlic

4 teaspoons canning or pickling salt

Yield: About 9 pints

Procedure: Wash peppers, cut into quarters, remove cores and seeds, and cut away any blemishes. Slice peppers in strips. Boil sugar, vinegar and water for one minute. Add peppers and bring to a boil. Place one-half clove of garlic and teaspoon salt in each sterile half-pint jar; double the amounts for pint jars. Add pepper strips and cover with hot vinegar mixture, leaving -inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath at altitudes of less than 1000 feet. Process 10 minutes at altitudes of 1001 to 3000 feet.


clipped on: 06.03.2008 at 01:21 pm    last updated on: 06.03.2008 at 01:21 pm