Growing up in the rural South, I’ve become used to a few more “old time-y” traditions present here that are often hard to find in other places. One of these is canning. (Included in photo: black raspberry jelly, mixed berry jam, apple butter, & pickles)
Way back when, before mass production, advanced refrigeration systems, and Super Walmart, canning was a normal, everyday way of life. You had to have food…food doesn’t usually grow in the winter…thus, you must can food in advance to eat in the winter months. That’s just how it was. Now, however, it’s generally much easier to just pop down to the grocery store for some jam or green beans than to go through all of the work to do it yourself.
Now, I know there are some stereotypes about rural Kentucky, and I’m not meaning in any way to imply that we don’t have refrigerators or grocery stores — but due to our maintained “country-fied” way of life here, retired tasks like canning have stayed around.
If you’ve never tried canning your own food, I’ll admit, it’s a time consuming, somewhat difficult process…but if you give it a shot, it’s one of the best, most delicious ways of making your own food.
Recently, in addition to all of my other crafting adventures, I’ve been canning like crazy… So far I’ve made: apple butter (made from apples picked from my family’s tree), apple pie filling (made from apples picked from my family’s tree), mixed berry jam, black raspberry jelly (using raspberries from my family’s garden), salsa (using tomatoes from my family’s garden), and dill pickles (using dill from my garden and fresh cucumber’s from my grandmother). It’s been a whirlwind, but when the polar vortex comes back again this year, (sources say likely), I’ll be ready.
So far, I’ve really enjoyed everything that I’ve canned, but the one thing I had the most fun with was dill pickles. Using (mostly) cucumbers and fresh dill from personal gardens, I canned over 4 quarts of pickles to eat over the next year. Though I’m sure there are loads of recipes on Pinterest, I used an old family recipe passed down from my 82 year old grandmother. Though it’s not knitting related, it’s definitely creative, so thought I’d share it with you all!
What you’ll need:
- approx. 5 one quart mason jars/10 one pint jars (get extras just in case)
- as many cucumbers as you think you’ll want (plus 1 or 2 — you’ll likely need more than you think)
- 1 pint of canning salt**
- 1 quart of apple cider vinegar
- 4 quarts of water
- fresh dill
(**This recipe makes very salty pickles. If you’d prefer less salty pickles, use 1/2 – 3/4 pint of salt instead.)
Note: This recipe makes a loooooooot of pickles… What I generally do is get a few more cucumbers than I think I actually want, and just use as much of the “juice” as I need. The rest will keep in the refrigerator for use later.
Step 1: First off, you must sanitize your jars. In order to do this, bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Place jars in one at a time, (using tongs or other tool so as not to burn yourself) and leave them in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
Pull them out very carefully and place them mouth down on a towel. Do this until all of your jars are sanitized.
Step 2: Next, you must sanitize your lids.
(Please note — lids cannot be reused! You MUST use fresh lids for canning or cans will not seal and your food will not be preserved! You can buy packs of lids in the canning section of your grocery store.)
Place all of the lids you’ll need, in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes. After time is up, turn off water and move pot from burner, but do not remove lids from water! (This will keep them hot and make them seal more easily.)
Step 3: Next, wash your cucumbers and cut into the size/shape that you want them, (slices, spears, etc.) — you should leave peeling on in order to get that nice *crunch* from your finished pickles.
Step 4: Now dry off your jars and fill with cucumbers. (Try to fill up as much of the empty space as possible.) Make sure to add a few sprigs of dill to your jars as well — I suggest one sprig in the middle and one at the top.
Step 5: Mix the water and vinegar in a large pot on the stove. Add salt and stir until dissolved. Bring to a soft boil and remove from burner. Also, remove jar lids from water and dry.
Step 6: Slowly, pour vinegar & salt mixture into your jars one at a time, stopping when the liquid is 1/2″-1″ under the rim of the jar. Place a lid on tip of the jar and tighten the ring only until you feel resistance. (Do not make these fully tight until they seal!) Do this for each of your jars.
Once your jars have “juice” and lids, let them sit in a cool place for 1-2 hours, or until they seal. (You will likely hear a loud *pop* — this means the lids have sealed properly.) Once they’ve sealed, (i.e., the “bump” in the middle of the lid is gone), you can store these in a cool place for up to a year.
If any of your jars did not seal — remove the lid & vinegar mixture and repeat the heating and sealing process.
Et Voila!! Hope you enjoy your homemade canned “country” pickles! Let me know how they turned out! 🙂
My grandmother’s original hand-written dill pickle recipe.
Have you ever tried canning before?