I feel like the only appropriate way to start this post is with an admission: I have no idea what the eff I’m doing in the kitchen.
Well, wait. I’m actually a decent cook– you don’t grow up in a big Italian family without knowing how to make a damn good meatball– and I know how to do lots of other things in the kitchen too…like installing faucets. But my kitchen-related knowledge does not extend so far as that ol’ farm staple: canning.
However, one of my very favorite things about being human– aside from opposable thumbs and the ability to wield a hammer– is that just because you don’t know what the eff you’re doing, doesn’t mean you can’t learn.
The first lesson I learned is that canning doesn’t start in late August like I thought it did (thanks to growing nothing but five tomato plants and some green beans last year.) Canning starts pretty much as soon as things start growing.
While strawberry season is over (and I have eight jars of jam to prove it), tomato and cucuber season has just started. I have fifteen tomato plants this year, but only one of them is producing ripe cherry tomatoes right now, and since I haven’t had a tomato fresh from the garden for a good eight months, each one of these that I find is a tiny delicious surprise. This is how I like to eat them…
Cut an X in the bottom, dip in sea salt. Heaven.
I’ll be swimming in these babies soon, but in the meantime I realized I was going to have a major green vegetable haul to deal with. Saturday morning I pulled some leaves back on one of my cucumber plants and found this…
The first thing that went through my head was “Holy shit, I need to make some pickles.”
I’ve never actually made a pickle before, so this should be interesting. I’ve eaten a truckload of them though, so that totally counts for something, right? No?
So I gathered my cukes (and some green beans while I was at it, because I hear you can make “dilly beans” by pickling them in the same brine) and spent my Sunday night covered in paint and canning the shit out of some vegetables.
Some snapshots of the process…
The thing I like least about canning is that if you don’t have tried and true recipes you have no idea if all that work you just did is worth it. I’m about 50/50 on deliciousness (last year’s salsa) and not-so-deliciousness (last year’s applesauce).
I combined two recipes for this pickling adventure, and while I’ll note what I did here, these could be disgusting for all I know. (I used legitimate pickle recipes from this site and this book to make my own.)
Here’s what I used:
- 4 cups Distilled white vinegar
- 4 cups water
- 5 Tbsp salt
Brought to a boil…
And in each jar:
- 2 cloves homegrown garlic (slightly crushed)
- 1/4 tsp peppercorns
- 1 tsp dill seed
- 1/4 tsp or less of celery seed
Plus the cukes or green beans, covered with the brine, and then processed for 10 minutes using the boiling water method. Probably I won’t die of botulism.
Since I plan to do a lot of canning with a lot of recipes this year (this is definitely going to be my Sunday ritual) I added tags with canning date and recipe info on the back so I can judge what worked best later on. Slices or spears? More or less pepercorns? It’s all an art.
I put one jar in the fridge straightaway and plan to try them in a couple of weeks to see how things turned out. Anyone have awesome pickle recipes?