I have wanted to can pickles for a long time, but everything I was reading online was scaring me off from the project. You must buy this and this expensive equipment, keep your jars at exactly the correct temperature before putting your pickles in, etc. However, I ran across a pickling basket at Wal-Mart (in their seasonal section) and decided that was really all I needed. I already had a big soup pot, and the tongs/magnetic lid lifter/air bubble spatula/ etc. that came with the basket were all just extras. I picked up a flat of quart jars, stopped for some pickling cucumbers on the way home, and decided to just go for it.
There are plenty of instructions online (from much more qualified writers) for pickling recipes and how-tos, so I won’t go into that here. I simply used a dill pickle recipe that came with my supplies. It was easy-peasy! The hardest part was committing to the 3 hours or so that it took me to make 7 quarts, since I could only process 2 at a time in my soup pot.
Amazingly, all 7 jars sealed correctly! We opened a jar less than a week later when some friends came over for a BBQ. Everyone RAVED about the pickles, and I couldn’t have been more proud. They are absolutely delicious! Then at another BBQ a few weeks later we opened a second jar, and the pickles had only gotten better with age. They were a big hit again. They keep for up to 2 years, though I doubt they will last much longer with the rate we’ve been BBQing!
I can’t wait to can many more foods now. Pickled green beans are a favorite, but ones I’ve gotten at the store are so bland. I’d also like to make some simple jams with local berries–come August the blackberries in the Portland area are absolutely everywhere. The BF loves PB&J sammies, but I refuse to buy most jams/jellies because most of them have high fructose corn syrup as their second ingredient! Trader Joes and “Just the Fruit”-type jams are so expensive, so I can’t wait to try my hand at homemade.
Of course, my loyal feline assistant had to check all the seals on the pickles to make sure we didn’t get botulism.
What are your favorite things to can? I need some new ideas, suited for a beginner. 🙂