Last year I made pickles for the first time, four quarts. I made them lacto-fermented and then they had to be refrigerated and eaten up in six months. They turned out okay, but were a little too salty for my liking. This year I’m going for a different recipe that is less salty and has a bit more kick to it and I will be making them in pint jars.
I will be trying the recipe found here Crispy Dill Pickles. It makes four pints. I have enough cucumbers to do a batch of these and then if I like them, do another bigger batch. As I am the only one in my home who eats dill pickles, a couple canner loads of these should do me for the year. These ones will be canned and thus shelf-stable, so I won’t have to eat them by December and can make enough to last until next cucumber season.
It is a nice, cool day, so canning won’t heat the house up horribly. I will do 4 jars of sliced pickles to start with because if they still seem too salty I won’t have any issues using them up three or four slices at a time on a cheeseburger. It’s harder with spears or whole pickles to deal with extra saltiness. With the slices I can just rinse them off easily as needed.
Since I didn’t grow a garden this year other than the perennial fruit that comes back every year on its own, I had to buy my cukes. I went to a local farmstand that is less than a mile from my house. They have produce from my state and often from my county and they had organic cucumbers yesterday so I got enough for my canning needs for the year, I think. I’m using fresh dill instead of dill seeds this year, so I also picked up a big clump of that. I was going to buy green beans there, too, but the green beans were not organic. So I will wait and go to the farmer’s market on Saturday to do that or see if one of the pick your own places has some. I want to buy 25 pounds of green beans. I’ll need to buy a total of 50 this summer, but 25 pounds is enough for one day’s canning.
Other than that I’d like to can some potatoes and carrots for easy stew-making. I’ll also be canning some rabbit, some chicken, and some homemade rabbit and chicken stocks before the summer is over. Possibly some salmon, too. And I’d like to can some salsa, some spaghetti sauce, and some diced tomatoes. I won’t do straight tomato sauce this year. I still have several cans I need to use up of that. I did plain tomato sauce because I figured it would be more versatile, but I have found I’d rather have the finished products when it comes down to cooking or eating from the jar, so I’ll go with that. I’ll be using the pressure canner for the first time this summer.
I had thought about canning some corn as well, but it is so much work and I can still get a good can of corn from Trader Joe’s in a BPA free tin for under a dollar. If I had grown the corn myself I wouldn’t mind canning it, but at 4/$1 it isn’t really worth my time to clean, cut off the cob, and can. I might freeze some though. Mostly we are just fresh eating while it is in season.
If I can find some nectarines that are organic I’d do several batches of those the same way you can peaches. But it is really hard to find non-sprayed stone fruit around here. When we buy our land I will plant a few of the cold hardy nectarine trees and see how they fare. Of course it will likely be five to six years before they produce fruit at all, if all goes well.
But it all starts today with pickles.