I am so sorry for the long absence, but I was busy riding out my first trimester of pregnancy. I am going to be a mom in October!! Never in my life have I disliked food or the subject of food more than during this time. I could barely get through the grocery store-so unlike me. I subsisted on mostly bland white foods; cold cereal, potatoes-all ways, and noodles. I am so happy to be on the other side of that now and with more energy and food love. Just in time for all the great foods of summer!
Like many of you, I have been hitting the farmers market pretty much weekly. I look forward to what is new and in season. Lately, I have been crazy for apricots-just cant get enough and I know that one Saturday I am going to show up and they will be gone. Gone the way of the cherries. I gave up on cherries a few weeks ago one bland bag later and I knew it was time to say good bye.
I am thrilled to let you all know that I like to think of myself as a canner lady. What this really means is that once or twice a year I haul out that big black calderon and my jars and pickle or put up some of the best of summer.
Today was one of those days! Well before the Saturday market I had decided that if there were good looking green beans I would pickle some this weekend. I not only found amazingly plump, firm and fresh green beans, but also pickling cukes or cucumbers and fresh dill. It was a canner weekend home run. So I decided to put up a little of both. It really is important with canning to use the best and freshest ingredients and at the Saturday farmer’s market that was an easy order to fill. I always hand pick every single bean.
The recipe I use for green beans is the classic Dilly Beans. The beans are trimmed and cold packed into hot jars, topped with a hot apple cider vinegar solution and processed. For those of you who are also canners or long to be, I highly suggest a visit to the foodinjars.com canning blog with an awesome recipe list. She lists a dilly bean recipe but you can also find one in most other canning books.
The pickle recipe is very similar to the bean recipe and this time I used the foodinjars.com recipe for Garlic Dill Pickles for the proportions of the apple cider vinegar solution.
So there are rules to canning and sanitation is very important. It is advised to follow the processing rules for clean canning as far as sanitizing jars before you use them and processing foods long enough to be shelf stable. Canning is not quite like cooking especially for beginners or every now and then canner ladies like myself. So I don’t mess with the vinegar/water/salt solution, however, I do play with the spices! The fun in these recipes for me is the spice combinations.
My favorite thing to add to dilly beans is lemon zest and a really good pinch of red pepper flakes. My beans come out with tang and a kick! They are great alongside a sandwich or in a Bloody Mary! I also really like to use fresh dill heads in my pickles and fresh dill weed in my dilly beans. Other fun items to add to pickles include mustard seeds, dill seed, peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick pieces, whole allspice and peeled whole garlic.
Note: Vinegar based pickling is safe to use on vegetables and there is little risk of bacterial contamination due to the high acid preparation (4-6pH) and when recipes are followed. If you want to put up veggies sans vinegar, that is a different story and should involve a pressure cooker. It is something that many people do but I have not explored that yet.
This Canner Lady’s must have supplies:
The Cauldron: Large porcelain enameled canning pot with rack
Magnetic lid lifter: A hygienic helper for catching lids and rings in the hot water.
Wide mouth funnel: I appreciate the help keeping my jar rims clean and ready to make good seals.
Wooden chopstick: Or a plastic spatula for removing air bubbles.
Fun Labels: Ok so this may not be a necessity, but I it makes everything more fun and beautiful!
Jars: You will collect a variety but I love the 1 1/2 pint wide mouth jars. They are super tall and perfect for beans or asparagus.
Stay tuned for some summer stone fruit canning as I love to pull out a good jar of peach preservers and serve them over waffles on a cold winter morning.