My passion for food manifests itself into different occupations. There’s Briana the cook, Briana the gardener, Briana the canner, Briana the cheesemaker, etc. There’s really no end to the food-related activities I enjoy. I especially love preserving, because it allows me to share a bit of my food-love with others, near and far.
On my recent trip to Southern California, I brought jam and pickles. I wanted friends and family to experience a bit of what I’ve been up to. I cracked open one jar of Blackberry-Peach jam on the 12-hour drive, to eat on a tortilla with peanut butter.
I popped open a pint of zucchini pickles when Ashley and I shared cooking responsibilities at an impromptu barbecue dinner with her family. The tangy crookneck coins tasted delicious on our thyme-infused burgers. It only takes subtle additions to turn traditional into gourmet. It helps to have a garden and a little ambition.
I’ve been telling people up and down California about my recent pickling and preserving activities. I figured I ought to share a recipe, since I’m also asking these friends/family/strangers if they’re reading my blog.
I’ve found pickles and jams to be the easiest. There are just a few tools you need: a few pots and pans, a water-bath canner, a jar lifter is helpful and canning jars, lids and rings. Some of these will be an investment, but you’ll see a return after just a couple of batches of homemade goodness. If you want to make pickles, but don’t have a canner, you can follow this recipe, ignore the canning procedures and keep your pickles in the refrigerator.
Remember, the pickles must “pickle” in their brine for at least a week before you can enjoy them! Feel free to experiment with different spices (coriander seeds, red pepper flakes) for your own unique pickles. I adapted this recipe from the Food in Jars blog, which is a great resource for all things canned, as is Pick Your Own.
adapted from Food in Jars
Makes about 4 quarts (Wide-mouth jars make inserting/removing pickles easier)Ingredients: ♥ 12 medium-sized pickling cucumbers, washed and quartered, length-wise (cut and discard the blossom end to prevent bitter, mushy pickles)
♥ 4 cups vinegar (white, distilled or apple cider)
♥ 4 cups water
♥ 5 tablespoons pickling or kosher salt (table salt may make for cloudy brine)
♥ 8 cloves garlic, peeled
♥ 4 tablespoons dill seed
♥ 1 bunch fresh dill weed (1 sprig per jar)
- Fill the water-bath canner with water and bring to a boil. Place lids and rings into a small pan with simmering water.
- Combine vinegar, water and salt into a separate pot. Bring to a simmer.
- Arrange jars on a counter. Divide garlic cloves, dill seed and dill weed between each. Pack cucumber spears tightly into each jar.
- Fill each jar with vinegar-water-salt brine, leaving a 1/2-inch of headspace. Wipe rims with a clean towel, apply lids and rings. Place jars into the water-bath canner and process* for 10 minutes.
- Remove jars from water and set on a counter to cool. Lids should seal, which means when you push on them you won’t feel them spring back or hear a click. Store them in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
I made a batch of dills at my mom’s house, because I wanted to show my family how easy it is. My sisters watched and asked questions, but my mom and grandma weren’t so amused. It turns out they were canners, way-back-when. My mom even told me that the first time she canned tomatoes, she made my dad eat them before she fed them to anyone else–she didn’t want to make anyone sick. Ha! Canning’s in my blood.