As we approach the peak of the summer harvest, local farmers’ markets are filled with fruits and vegetables calling to homecooks, chefs, and restaurateurs alike.

I  get so stimulated by all the beautiful color and shapes that I often tend to over-buy.

Instead of Saturday morning’s purchases being my muse for Sunday dinner, I  end up housing a fruit fly colony on my kitchen counter. However, with my recent discovery of the canning process, my farmer’s market finds are no longer sacrificed to the insect family. Instead, my pantry is now lined with the bounties of summer and fall, all year long.

Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered fo...

Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered for pickling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The discovery of the canning process was actually the result of a contest administered by French military to anyone who could develop a new method to store food for longer periods of time. In 1806, Frenchman Nicolas Appert was awarded 12,000 francs by heating food and its containers to 212 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the microorganism that can cause spoilage.
With many thanks to modern refrigeration, we no longer rely on canned foods to get us through long winters. But it can be fun, economical, and a great way to make gifts for neighbors, coworkers, and friends.

For some, it can turn into a multimillion dollar household name like Stonewall Kitchen.(www.stonewallkitchen.com) Founders Jonathan King and Jim Stott started making jam and selling it at local farmer’s markets over 20 years ago. Now their marinades, grill sauces, salad dressings, syrups and dessert sauces as well as over 20 types of  jams are sold all over the world.

If you’re not quite ready to go global, start your first canning experience with a recipe that is high in acid such as fruits, jellies, jams, or pickles.

My mother’s bread and butter pickle recipe is always a hit this time of year. Pickling cucumbers are at abundance in both the supermarkets and farmer’s markets. Pick up about 10 pickling cucumbers and canning starter set such as Ball. You can find the kit in most grocery stores and hardware stores. You can also find them at (www.freshpreservingstore.com).  This is also a great place for tips, videos, and recipes.

Jean’s Bread and Butter Pickles

8  Four- inch pickling cucumbers
6 medium thinly sliced onions
¾ c salt
5 c cider vinegar
6 c sugar
1tsp turmeric
½ c mustard seed
1Tbl celery seed
¼ tsp (scant) cayenne pepper

Wash the cucumbers well and cut off both ends. Slice cucumbers ½ inch thick. Slice onions thin. If you have a mandolin this works well. Place onions and cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Stir well. Allow to stand for about 3-6 hours. Drain well and rinse well in cold water. Drain well again. If the cucumbers are extremely salty, cover with water to rinse and drain well again. Prepare 7 to 9 quart pickling jars by washing them with hot soapy water, rinsing, and placing them upside down on the oven rack in a 250 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Wash lids in hot soapy water, rinse, and then leave them in clean water. Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a large kettle. Add cucumbers and onions and allow them to come to just a simmer while stirring. Do not allow them to come to a boil or the pickles will become mushy. Fill hot jars with pickles, and add juice to within ¼ inch of the top. Wipe the top of the jar and seal the jars on a wooden board to cool. When cooled, test the seal by pushing down on the top. If the lid stays depressed it is well sealed.  If any jars don’t stay depressed, they should be stored in the refrigerator. They well sealed jars can be rinsed and stored in a cool place.

These pickles taste great with grilled cheese and summer tomato sandwiches.

by Jessica Elsemore,   www.jelsemorephotography.com

2 thoughts on “Canning puts you in a pickle? Preserve your harvest

    • Thanks Lydia! We love pickling and it has become a serious passion! Let us know how the recipe works for your and enjoy the summer!

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