Thursday, August 29, 2013

Made and Found: Pickles

Most people who know me are very aware that I'm not a fan of cucumbers. I pick them out of fresh rolls, push them to the side of salad plates, and will slowly edge away from you if you're eating them. Blech and double blech! 

But pickles--now that's a different story. I'm a huge fan of pickles and frankly, find it baffling that something I loathe, when sealed in a jar with vinegar and spices for a month or more, becomes something I love. So, this year we planted pickling cucumbers in the garden and had a go at making pickles...

I'll admit our pickling cucumbers are pretty, and I do enjoy the little black prickles you have to scrub away. I wasn't too thrilled, however, with the whole cutting and smelling cucumbers process. Just goes to show that I'm determined to have those pickles.

I had never canned before August, so I found several books quite useful. Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English was my starting point. I used her basic dill pickle recipe for the first batch and found her instructions on the canning process really useful. Canning & Preserving Your Own Harvest by Carla Emery was also full of good advice and easy recipes. And The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux by Paul Virant was the book I looked to for out-of-the-box ideas. Sadly, Mom could not be convinced to attempt a rhubarb beer jam or the blackberry jam recipe with no added sugar. ( She continues to lecture me on the ratio of sugar to fruit in canned jams and jellies.) Sigh.

I also consulted the delightful Food in Jars  blog. For anyone who thinks they're too much of a city mouse to attempt canning, this is a terrific jumping-off point. Marisa McClellan knows her stuff and isn't afraid to share that knowledge. Her blog is chock-full of recipes, techniques, and all manner of necessary bits to help you get started on the road to canning success.

My pickles won't be ready until September, and I must admit I'm finding it tough to wait. Patience is not one of my strong suits. I've been tempted many a sandwich day to crack open a jar, but I'm hoping that the wait will pay off in deliciousness. 

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