Day of Canning (pickles and peaches, oh my!)

On Sunday, my mother and I purchased a 1/2 bushel of cute little pickling cucumbers from the farmer’s market. For those of you (like us) who don’t really know how much is in a bushel, let me restate this. On Sunday, my mother and I purchased 30 pounds of pickling cucumbers from the farmer’s market.

Why, you may ask?

  1. Because I’ve never made pickles before;
  2. Because I’ve been enjoying canning; and
  3. Because one of the most important ways to support local food is to buy the food when it’s in season. The most beautiful crop of local, organic veggies is worthless to a farmer with debt to pay if he can’t sell it at market. Learning how to put up food is an important aspect of my personal commitment to supporting local food systems.

After bringing home the soon-to-be-pickles (and a run to the hardware store for wide-mouthed quart jars), we spent the next several hours making and canning peach jam, peach-jalapeno jam, sliced peaches and dill pickles. Here are some photos, followed by the recipe for the pickles.

Oh, but first – a few lessons I want to remember:

  • Keeping the jars hot in the dishwasher (on “heat dry on”) was actually brilliant, and freed up other space in our small kitchen
  • The calcium-activated pectin is great, but you must remember: PECTIN FIRST, activator second.
  • Never complain about the bunches of dill that come in the CSA box, because they don’t come that way in the grocery store. (excess plastic waste, sniff!)
  • When canning sliced peaches, you don’t need as much sugar water as you think. Don’t overmake the sugar syrup.
  • It’s extremely satisfying to hear the little “pop” when the jars come out of the canner
  • Blanching instead of peeling is totally the way to go. (to easily remove skin from peaches or other fruits, drop for 20-30 seconds in boiling water, then dunk in bowl of ice cold water for a minute. Skins slide off much easier)
  • There really was a reason I saved all of those glass jars. (woo for smarter use of resources!)

Here are a few photos from our day of canning.

Ladling the brine into the pickle jars.

making pickles

And here are a few of the pickles!

pickle jars

And here’s everything that got canned on Sunday:

  • 10 12-oz jars sliced peaches
  • 8 8-oz jars of peach jam
  • 15 quart jars of dill pickles

jars

For reference, here’s the dill pickle recipe and other resources we used:

Dill Pickles

8 pounds 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
4 cups white vinegar
12 cups water
2/3 cup pickling salt
16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved (we chopped them to distribute the flavor more)
8 sprigs fresh dill weed
8 heads fresh dill weed
Wash cucumbers, and place in the sink with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Soak in ice water for at least 2 hours but no more than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required. Sterilize 8 (1 quart ) canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil.
In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about 1 pound). Then add 2 more garlic halves, and 1 sprig of dill. Fill jars with hot brine. Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar’s rims of any residue.
Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes.
Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.
  • 8 pounds 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 12 cups water
  • 2/3 cup pickling salt
  • 16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved (we chopped them to distribute the flavor more)
  • 8 sprigs fresh dill weed
  • 8 heads fresh dill weed

Wash cucumbers, and place in the sink with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Soak in ice water for at least 2 hours but no more than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required. Sterilize 8 (1 quart ) canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil.

In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about 1 pound). Then add 2 more garlic halves, and 1 sprig of dill. Fill jars with hot brine. Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar’s rims of any residue.

Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes.

Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.

Canning sliced peaches (with photos): http://www.pickyourown.org/peachescanning.htm

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Mickki, I didn’t know you had a food blog. This is very cool. And that’s a lot of canning.

    Reply

    • Hey Beth! Yes, it’s been fun (although I’ve been too busy to post for a while) The canning is actually getting easier; last weekend my mom and I canned more peach jam and salsa; this weekend we’re planning on tomatoes and tomato sauce. Yum!

      Reply

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