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We have been wanting to can our own preserves and pickles since we moved into our house a year ago. So when our CSA offered up 25 pounds of pickling cukes for $24 we decided this was the time. We were quickly reminded that canning is dependent on the readiness of the ingredients, and not on our schedule when the cucumbers arrived the same week as my new niece. I left Chris alone with a pile of spices and a crock and a vague idea of how to ferment pickles…But he did a fabulous job of mixing and skimming and the pickles are great! (I must admit I ate them alone the first few days to be sure we hadn’t made any dreadful pickling mistakes). We were overly cautious with our sterilization and our kitchen was an August sauna, but despite a little cloudiness in our brine our first try at picking was a success!

We used this recipe from Bakespace, and added extra hot peppers, garlic and more dill than called for. Our jars are Weck #908 Asparagus Liter Jars and fit about 8 pickles per jar. I had never used the Weck system before, but it was quite simple and none of the seals failed. We needed about 18 jars for about 5 gallons of cucumbers. Chris’ parents lent us a huge 10 gallon crock which was heavy, but perfect for the job. I had a hard time finding an affordable and deep enough pot for sterilizing the tall jars, but finally located an aluminum tamale steamer at our neighborhood grocery store. I took out the steamer section and it worked wonderfully and cost only $12. (You should not cook canning ingredients in an aluminum container, but it worked fine for sterilizing the jars).

Ada helped color and stick the labels on the jars this morning. We were all pretty amazed at the alchemy of turning cucumbers into pickles. Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a wonderful place to start for self-sufficient inspiration. And now I am dreaming up shelves in the basement to house the winter stores.

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