Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Canning Experience

When I was little, I remember canning along side my mom and grandma at my grandma's house. The kitchen was filled with pots of boiling water, smells of green beans and tomatoes. There were stations of food prep, sanitation, canning, and cooling. The small kitchen was taken over with the season's produce until the pantry was filled with glass jars full of vegetables. And my favorite were the white cherries, picked straight from the tree in the back yard. I loved those canned jars of white cherries and was so sad when we finished the last jar of the season and had to wait for the next year's cherries to bloom.

In the past couple of years, I really wanted to try canning, but we've been able to eat through our produce without enough left to preserve. This year, when our cucumbers plants went crazy, I decided to try some pickles. Notice that this post isn't titled "Canning 101" or "Canning How-to." This isn't either one of those things. I have no idea if I did any of this correctly (I mean I did follow a guideline but haven't even tried the pickles yet so I don't know how they turned out). Maybe next time I'll give some instructions, but for this round, I'm simply showing some pictures of the process for my own record and maybe so someone else can be inspired that you really don't have to know exactly what you're doing to try it out just once. Just do some research and follow the directions carefully. 

Jars and lids sanitizing. Pickling mixture on the back burner.

Pickling mixture.  I used a mix for this because making a homemade pickling mixture seemed a little daunting the first time I was trying canning as well. Maybe next time.

Prep area. Cucumbers, vinegar, funnel, and measuring cups. Yep! Looks like a morning of canning. I told Jeremy, "Well at least it looks like I know what I'm doing." He agreed that it did in fact "look" like I knew what I was doing. Yeah me.

This is the mix I used for the pickling solution. You just add vinegar and water and then bring it to a boil.

This is a set that Jeremy got me for Christmas and it's pretty awesome. It has a funnel that fits jar tops, a jar handler (that I was using upside down until Jeremy said, "I think it's supposed to go the other way." It was much easier to use after that.) There's also a little stick with a magnet on the end so you can get the metal lids straight from the hot sanitizing water to the jar without burning your fingers.  It was all pretty handy and I would recommend it.

And here are my pickle jars ready to go in the water bath. I must have been really excited when it was done, because I forgot to take a picture of them afterwards. Spoiler alert: They looked just like this, only not in the pan. Sorry.

The 24 hour test of pushing down on the lid (to see if it pops back up or not) shows that all except 1 sealed! Yeah! I have deemed it a success. I put the one non-sealed jar in the fridge so we can try them in a week, and the rest of them are heading to the pantry.

After checking our our garden, it looks like we will have another batch of pickles ready to can soon. Now I'm ready. The whole process just took a morning from start to finish. So there you have it. Hopefully I'll have more canning experiences to share soon!

I used this resource at www.pickyourown.org for my how-to guide. Happy pickling!

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