Pickling-The Gateway to Canning for the Inexperienced Like Me

Dear Reader-

Friends of ours have a huge garden. They grow 500lb pumpkins and prizewinning Dahlias, among many other treasures. She gave me pickling cucumbers straight from the ground, and I wanted to make pickles. I have been interested in canning and pickling for quite a while, so I ordered a canning kit. While I waited for that to arrive, I made refrigerator pickles.

I am fairly proud. They are so pretty!

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The canning kit arrives, and it is large and a bit intimidating. But I am ready for homemade pickled vegetables, especially dills, so I decide it will not conquer me. I put my fears of botulism and ptomaine poisoning aside.

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I pickle asparagus and they come out unattractive and shrivelly. The forums tell me I am not a failure, that asparagus tends to do that. Especially since I picked the only recipe in existence that does not balance the vinegar with equal parts water. They are a bit tart! I also wonder if I boiled them too high, so I decide I will remedy that with my precious dills.

However, they are very good in my Bloody Marys!

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I decide on a pickling recipe from The Old Farmers Almanac (http://www.almanac.com/content/pickling-tips-and-recipes). It has some good looking stuff! The first step is the brining overnight.

There is sooooo much salt poured over the top of these cucumbers!

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Next you make the vinegar concoction and sterilize the jars. Sterilizing varies depending on who you talk to. The instructions basically tell you that unless you sterilize the jars properly you will drop dead. I ignore the fear and push on. Now starts the mad rush of stuffing the newly sterilized won’t kill you jars with all the cucumbers, garlic, dill, peppercorns, mustard seed, chili pepper flakes, and whatever else you like. Then you pour the boiling vinegar concoction into the jars, leaving only 1/2 inch at the top. Thank the Lord for all the tools my canning kit came with. That funnel really does the ‘do.

Then you have time to take a picture of what you are doing.

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These then go into the boiling bath for 10 minutes. Not the roiling bath that made my previous attempts at pickling asparagus shrivel like chicken feet.

Note my special tongs!

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10 minutes on the clock. The timer chimes and the hopefully not poisoned jars are set on a rack to cool, and most importantly-POP. The lids should seal and you will hear a very loud ‘pop’. These jars are wicked hot so it took a while. If they don’t seal properly you can still eat them, but you can’t store them. I am aiming for perfection of course so I am listening for the telltale ‘pop’ that lets me know I am not a failure. They seal and cool to room temperature overnight.

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Now to make them cute. Labels, ribbon, all you craftys know the drill. I print my favorite rationing poster and use them as my labels, and attach them with special yarn from my fathers now retired dog grooming shop.

I think they look like real pickles!

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We taste them and they are (thankfully) delicious! I can’t wait to do it again. More pickled vegetables, then on to jams and preserves! Oh my!

Sincerely,

ATCT

 

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