"Some farmers hold that theres nothing theyd rather sit down on a blowy, autumn day when they come home cold and hungry to dinner, than a deep brown pot roast or stew with a big bowl of dill pickles nearby."
I feel the same way (minus the pot roast and the profession). This little Zen gem appeared in the revised edition of Farm Journals Country Cookbook, edited by Neil B. Nichols and published first in 1959, then 1972.
Flash forward two generations, to a cold and rainy Friday afternoon in January, 2010. I post the following to my Facebook profile: "Wendy Joan Biddlecombe had to order mason jars : ( Will have to place the canning dreams on hold until next week."
Full disclosure: my Facebook page doesnt seem to get that much traffic. A comment here, a thumbs-up there; a few event invitations roll in from time to time. But after that status update, friends came out of the woodwork to post countless comments on this thread, from offers to send tips from their expert southern grandmothers, to where to buy mason jars, to genuine interest in joining my pickling efforts. I was not, as I previously thought, the only person in the area enthusiastic about canning my own pickles.
Last Saturday night, my friend Dwight and I pickled our hearts out, blissfully producing ten mason jars full of spicy garlic bread and butter pickles that we cant wait to crack open and eat.
Wendy and Dwights Garlic and Jalapeño Bread and Butter Pickles
12 pickling cucumbers (approximately six inches in length, adjust accordingly), sliced thin
2 large onions
1/4 cup canning salt
2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled
12 jalapeños, cut in half length-wise (for less heat, remove seeds and veins)
In a large bowl, place the cucumbers, onions, garlic and jalapeños. Stir in the canning salt. Cover the top of the mixture completely with ice cubes (usually four to five trays). Let mixture sit for three hours. Stir often, and drain well when ready to can.
2 and 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 and 1/2 cups sugar
2-3 tablespoons pickling spices
1. Heat the sugar, vinegar and spices in a saucepan well (but do not boil) and pour over the cucumber mix.
2. Pack clean and sterilized mason jars three-quarters of the way full (if you are new to canning, be sure to read up on the proper way to prepare your mason jars at freshpreserving.com). Add lid and seal tightly. Place in a large pot of water (there should be at least one inch of water above the jars), and boil for fifteen minutes. Carefully remove jars with a pair of tongs.
3. In the next hour or so, you should hear the lids pop, which means that the jars have sealed properly. Once completely cool, store jars in a cool, dark place for a minimum of two weeks before eating.
Next canning session planned for the last weekend in January. Interested? Leave a comment below or email email@example.com.
Read more about my offbeat adventures is domesticity at playingh.wordpress.com.