Friday, August 27, 2010

Canning Pickles!

Oh my goodness! I'm finally back from my whirlwind month of travel. What a summer. I worked all June and into July...tutored through the rest of July, went to the Writers Conference, traveled home to visit my parents--stopping to see some friends along the way (all this alone with a 2-year-old), came home for a brief respite, and then headed back down to the Oregon coast to spend time with D's family. Needless to say, I had little time or inclination to update this here blog.

But, now that I am home, it's back to the lots of ways.

We head back into another action-packed year this Monday, so these final days must do double duty: projects must be finished and fun must be had.

Summer Goals

At the beginning of the summer, I set myself a few goals. To make my own bread, yogurt, granola and pasta and learn how to can. While the yogurt didn't turn out quite like I planned, at least I tried it, so I can easily attempt another batch at some point. We acquired a bread machine and have purchased the necessary ingredients for a honey/whole wheat style bread...but we've yet to make it, and the granola turned out to be more expensive and a bigger hassle than just buying it in bulk. We have yet to buy a pasta maker (just couldn't swing the cost this summer with all the traveling). But...the big winner this summer is canning! (I'll add tortillas onto the to-do list for next summer.)

In fact...this week it was pickles. And boy were they cheap to make (quite a bit less expensive than the strawberry jam we made earlier in the summer). We ended up with 24 pounds at 65 cents per, all the ingredients, and an additional 12 jars plus lids to add to the community collection (the friend I can with gets most of her jars for pennies at thrift shops) all for around 40 bucks. It would have been even cheaper if we hadn't needed the extra jars (about 10 bucks). We each ended up with 13 jars of various sizes, so each jar cost roughly 3 dollars.

We won't be able to enjoy them until around Thanksgiving, but they look lovely in my pantry.

Here's the recipe we used (measurements for one batch):

30-35 pickling cucumbers (3-4 inches long, roughly 6 pounds)
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
6 tablespoons pickling salt
4-8 fresh dill heads
1 head of garlic
1 small package of dill seeds

First, we scrubbed the cucumbers clean and snipped of both ends of each. We then heated the lids in a crock pot while we boiled clean jars and mixed the vinegar/water/salt combination. Once the jars had boiled for roughly 10 minutes, we pulled them out and filled each with a clove of garlic, a head of dill, and a generous pinch of dill seeds. We packed each jar as full of cucumbers as possible, filling in the nooks and crannies with various peppers, beans, and carrots to fill the spaces and make the jars look pretty. When the jars were fully packed and the vinegar/water/salt combo had come to a boil, we poured the solution into the jars to the very brim and let it settle for a minute or two to be sure the jars were as full as possible. Then we put the lids on, screwed the caps on tight, and put them in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Easy as pie!

Next, it's TOMATOES!!!! But that won't be until later in September or October.

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