In honor of back to school, I’ve decided to cook the alphabet. A little A-Z of recipe goodness. Today’s post is brought to you by the letter D. Stay tuned for the rest to come.
I’ve really wanted to get into canning. My grandmother canned all types of things when I was little (relishes, pickles, jams, etc), but I never had a chance to take advantage of her knowledge before she passed away. I regret that now big time. She had the advantage of using things directly from my grandfather’s garden. It was big as he often overplanted resulting in any visitor being sent home with at least one brown bag full of produce, lopsided pumpkins, or other piece of garden bounty. I have fond memories of wondering the rows with him and snacking on fresh green beans as we go. How I cherished those memories and wish I could relive a tenth of it.
But, as luck would have it, canning is hot right now. However, my inner nerd is petrified of giving Kettle botolism and therefore ruining my canning career and killing off my test audience. That would be a big downer. When our summer CSA started free mini-workshops at pick-up and announced the first one would be pickling, I nearly came unglued I was so excited. Finally, someone with decades of experience trapped in a room with me, stuck answering all my questions.
The good news is that pickling is essentially the gateway method to harder types of canning. It’s simple, you can’t really mess it up, and better yet, you can’t really kill anyone with it (unless they OD on your pickles because they are so awesome). To put it nicely, my inner nerd flourished at the CSA workshop. Did I sit front and center and show up 15 minutes early? Yes and yes. Did I take notes and email the lovely woman with additional questions? Of course. Did I enviously eye other people’s veggies to pickle and wish I had thought of it? Yes, and I may have even bummed spare veggies off them just to try.
The set-up was awesome. The organizers brought a whole variety of recipes, herbs, and spices and let us have at it. There were only about 8 or 10 of us in the class, so there was plenty of time for me to accost the experienced canners without monopolizing their time. We discussed variations, family methods, and ways to mix it up. I focused on making dilly beans. They are my favorite pickled snack and they make a fantastic garnish for bloody mary’s. I also made a jar of cucumber pickles and jammed a few extra veggies in just for fun (carrot coins and radish halves). I used garlic, dill, black mustard seeds, all spice, and coriander seeds to flavor my pickles along with a classic cold pack pickle brine. After packing all the ingredients, the jars were topped and left at room temperature in a cool dark place for 5 days. Once a day I did invert each jar to recirculate the spices. On the sixth day, I put the jars in the refrigerator to stop the pickling process and on the seventh day, we ate. Overall, major pickling success. I may get a little more creative next time and add other spices (hot peppers) or more spices, but we had no problems eating them all.
Dilly Beans (a cold pack pickle recipe)
Care of the lovely ladies at our CSA
1+1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
5+1/2 cups water
Spices (use as desired)
3 sprigs dill
1 clove garlic, halved
black mustard seeds
all spice seeds
Place spices in the bottom of jar. Tightly pack cleaned veggies upto 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Fill jar with brine to cover veggies (but no higher that 1/4 from top of the jar). Cap and leave at room temp in a cool place for 5 days. Stored in the refigerator for 24 hours and then eat. They won’t last long!
Green beans are my most favorite vegetable.