Saturday, July 25, 2015

I can because I can

The lingering scent of garlic, dill and vinegar still fill the house in a heady, but pleasing aroma today.  Then there's the rewarding view of seeing row upon row of Friday's worth of work lined up on the kitchen table and countertop.
 
Dill pickles - can't beat homemade! I like to tuck garlic and a pinch of hot chili pepper into each jar.

My Friday kicked off with an early morning visit to a local vendor at a Farmer's Market to pick-up a pre-planned order of pickling cucumbers, dill and garlic.  I missed out canning any dill pickles last year, due to the unexpected departure of my favourite vendor, Peter, from that Market.  Not knowing he was planning on leaving (I kept thinking I was missing him at the Market, when he'll actually quit this venue altogether), I didn't manage to arrange a buy of produce from him for canning dill pickles last summer.  Fortunately, I still had enough canned from the year before to carry us through to the end of 2014.  Store bought pickles are met with disdain in this household - I don't even bother buying them anymore because no one will eat them - that's what happens once you've had homemade, so canning dill pickles this year was a canning priority. ;o)

First step in pickle making is to wash the cucumbers. This year, I didn't have to use this handy method for washing, as they were already dirt and blossom-end free (many thanks to the Hutterite ladies for the care they take in cleaning the produce their colony sells at the Farmer's Market).
 
I pre-ordered 80lbs of pickling cukes, 8 bunches of dill and 12 bulbs of fresh garlic, but couldn't resist the temptation of adding in another 5lbs of cukes - which meant more garlic would be needed (I decided 16 bulbs would do the trick).  Twelve hours after starting, I finished canning 85lbs of cucumbers into 78 quarts - a new personal dill pickle canning record for me (the old record - 80lbs into 63 quarts - must have had quite a few damaged cucumbers that year - which wasn't the case this year. I only had about 6 cukes that were unfit to use, this year.).  It certainly makes for a busy day!  Now we just have to wait 6 weeks for the pickling process to have completed.


Here's 70 quarts laid out on our kitchen table as I removed each from the canner and the final 8 quarts set to cool on the countertop. Even though I've been canning for 18 years now, it's always exciting to see those filled and sealed jars!

 
Today's task will be washing the exteriors of all those jars so that they can be labelled and stored.  I love this season and am so thankful for the bounty that I can freeze or can to help feed my family in the year ahead.  I always look forward to preserving what I can. Simply put, "I can because I can".  It's such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, seeing jars filled with good food!

Future canning plans? Salsa making, then some tomatoes and probably a few quarts of peaches for re-stocking our shelves.  Maybe even the odd batch of jam (I know one son in particular is hoping so ;o).  At least I have one canning goal met so far and a big one at that. Yay!  Dill pickles done.  Whew. I'm happy that this year's canning season is off to a great start!

I think as a reward for yesterday's hard work, I'm spending the day sewing (just as soon as those jars are washed and stored, that is... ;o).

I hope it's okay, as this is not a quilting or sewing finish, but I'm so happy over this homemade finish that I'm linking up with Amanda Jean and friends for Finish-it-Up Friday!

14 comments:

  1. I miss North Carolina for the availability of produce. Not the same in Montana. But it always amuses me that people think canning is equal to brain surgery. My girls are missing my peach and strawberry jams.

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  2. Congratulations. It's a great finish!

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  3. I can from our garden but we give a lot to our kids

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  4. Omg! I like to grow my own cucumbers too and I can them too. But you have so much cucumbers! What a delight!

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  5. I have canned pickles before, but never that many, or that fast. You go girl. I have my rhubarb and strawberries measured and frozen, waiting for cooler weather to make my jam.

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  6. There's nothing so satisfying as jars of preserves, that's for sure! Unfortunately I gave up on trying to can my own dill pickles after 4 years in a row with dismal results "( I've been told to use alum, don't use alum. What's your secret?

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  7. Well, that's something I never tried... maybe one day!

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  8. Wow! That's a lot of pickles!

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  9. I remember your canning posts from previous years. I always love to read about it. I’ve done some jam making in the past but that’s where it ends!

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  10. Congratulations - that a whole lot of jars! I like to make jam, marmalade, and delicious capsicum chutney. The latter is great with meat sandwhiches, or on crackers with cheese!

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  11. I might break into your house and steal some of those. Just something to watch out for ;-)

    My mom used to can but hasn't in years, which is too bad because I'd totally swipe some from her if I could. They're SO much better homemade than store bought.

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  12. And I can´t stop liking what you are doing, but I´m not allowed to eat myself:-(
    Kram//Maja

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  13. That's a LOT of pickles. And they look delicious! There's nothing like homemade pickles!

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  14. What a great finish! It's time for me to get started with some canning too. We've had something eating everything but the nightshades in our community garden... despite the fence we put up. At least we'll have lots of potatoes (and a few tomatoes.,) I'll have to start checking the farmers' markets each weekend now.

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