Sunday, July 13, 2008

You Can ~ Can in 10 Easy Steps

I've always been interested in canning........I love the idea of growing something yourself, going into your own backyard picking it and preserving it. I think there is a great satisfaction in that kind of work. I've not done much in the way of canning. In different seasons of my life when I had very little ones, I just didn't have the time/patience to learn. Not to mention I've lacked the no how & the confidence to do it. However this past year I did something to change that. I made up my mind I was going to do it & I planned ahead. In years past I would be so mad at myself when we would grow things in the garden & they would just go to waste because I didn't know how to preserve them. So last summer, towards the end, I found a few simple recipes on how to preserve garden produce through canning or freezing. I then planted the plants I would need to follow through with my preserving plans. The following recipe is simple and great for beginners who are lacking the confidence & know how. It's a great way to get your feet wet.
Deli Style Kosher Dill Pickles (makes 5-6 quarts pickles)
Pickling cucumbers ( about an average size mixing bowl filled with cucumbers should be enough for 5 - 6 quarts)
1 quart vinegar
3 quarts water
1 cup pickling salt
fresh dill heads
12 cloves of garlic
6 bay leaves
1. The night before you plan to can, wash cucumbers well and put in the fridge overnight. Wash all your jars and bands. I just run mine through the dishwasher. Use new lids.
2.The day of canning......... preheat oven to 225 degrees to sterilize jars.
3. For EACH quart jar (preferably wide mouth, it doesn't have to be though, just use what you) lay out 2 dill heads, 2 cloves of garlic & 1 bay leaf. It's good to have it ready so you can work quickly.
4. Bring vinegar, water & salt to boil ( this is called the brine) ~ boil lids & bands to sterilize.... keep them in gently boiling water until ready to use. Put jars in oven...set timer for 20 min.
5. While the brine is gently boiling and lids, bands, and jars are sterilizing..... cut cucumbers.
6. after 20 minutes ....when the jars are sterilized, take one jar out of the oven and put one clove of garlic & one dill head on the bottom of the jar.
7. Pack with cucumbers
8. Place 1 clove of garlic, 1 dill head, & 1 bay leaf on top of the cucumbers.
9. Ladle boiling brine over cucumbers to cover. Using a funnel will make it easier.
10. With tongs take lids and bands out of boiling water, put on jars and tighten. Continue this one jar at a time until done.
Your done : ) You will hear the lids pop when they seal. When they have cooled a bit, right the date on the top of the jar with permanent marker. Place in the fridge and allow them to cure 2-4 weeks before eating.
If you are curious or like me, had no idea what a dill head was : ) here you have it.... this is a fresh dill head. It is a dill plant when it flowers. This was one of my larger dill heads. For larger dill heads, tear in half & count them as two. For small dill heads use two & count it as one.

Before you begin lay out 2 cloves of garlic, 2 fresh dill heads & one bay leaf for EACH jar.

While the brine is gently boiling, lids & rims are sterilizing in boiling water & jars are sterilizing in the oven , cut up cucumbers. The smaller cucumbers like the one I'm cutting in the picture above can be cut in half length wise.

The larger cucumbers like this one can be sliced.

The finished product. Cool a bit and then put in the fridge. You can leave them on the shelf but they don't taste as fresh and crisp as they do when you refrigerate them.
**** Keep a lid on the boiling brine when not using. If the lid is left off the water will evaporate, leaving you with a very salty brine.


Bethany said...

Those are so good looking...I love how you picked the dill fresh. It's really pretty!

wendynh said...

I planted dill for the first time this year. I see when a head was formed, but when is it ready for picking?
Does anyone know when is the time to pick for best flavor? If the head has been out awhile, is it still good?

His Tender Mercies said...

wendynh ~ A dill head is best to pick just before the the buds on the head flower. You can still use it once it flowers but it has the most flavor before the flowers come out.You can tell the difference just by smelling them. This was actually my first time planting it this year So I had no idea either : ) I just looked on the internet until I found the info I needed. I didn't even know what a dill head was : )

His Tender Mercies said...

wendynh ~ I think you can use it up until it goes to seed but even then you can use the seed in cooking.