Friday, July 23, 2010

Calendar Notation: Pickling Time!

When I flipped over my large 12x18 monthly calendar to July I saw a notation in the upper left corner that said “Pickle Time.” I must have marked the calendar when I transferred all the birthdays and anniversaries from last year’s calendar. Pretty smart idea, if I do say so myself.

Last July Brilliant Daughter and I went on a canning frenzy last July after trips to LJB Farms in San Martin. In addition to jams, salsa and barbecue sauce, we put up 24 quarts of pickles. We have been generous with our crunchy dill spears and consequently Mrs. B’s cupboard is just about bare of pickles, hence a need to haul out the canning equipment.

We made a quick trip down to LJB Farms on July 3rd and picked up a lug of the full-flavored Blenheims—since they have such a short season—and I made about 20 half-pints of jam on the 4th of July. I didn’t have time to go to the farm the following weekend, so I made a trip down to our local farmer’s market and bought 10 pounds of pickling cucumbers and some fresh dill, an investment of $12. I went across the street to Safeway and picked up a gallon of white vinegar and made my way home to begin pickling.

Pickling is a very simple process and really takes very little time. While I put the canning kettle on to boil, I washed out my jars and put them in a 250-degree oven to bring them up to temperature.

I washed and quartered all the cucumbers into spears and put them in an ice bath to stay cold and crispy.

Then I set got the pickling liquid on to boil*.

While I waited, I trimmed and cut the dill, peeled garlic (I do love my pickles with garlic), and found the peppercorns. (I even added some chili pepper flakes to a few jars to add some kick.)

Once the canning pot was ready I pulled out 6 jars, added my dill, 3 garlic cloves, 5 peppercorns and then stuffed the spears in tight. I filled them up with the vinegar mixture, sealed them and put them into the bath for 20 minutes. I repeated the process and second time and after 1 ½ hours—start to finish—I had 12 quarts of pickles ready for the pantry. (Not near enough to last the year, unless I decide not to share.)

Now comes the waiting…..

*Ratio of pickling liquid is 3 cups vinegar, 3 cups of water, 1/3 cup salt. For 12 quarts of pickles I used 4x this recipe.

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