Well, I did it. I canned my own pickles.
Last summer, I joined my friend Melissa as she made her famous spicy pickles, and documented the experience in 3191 Quarterly Issue No. 5. This summer, I decided to try it all on my own. Melissa was over to my house the morning before I made the pickles, and I had to keep myself from begging her to stay and hold my hand through the process, but I soldiered on. Armed with her recipe in Issue No. 5, I rolled up my sleeves, pulled out my jars, stocked my supplies, and set to work.
I followed the recipe as written, save for the fact that I used dried whole chilies instead of the crushed red pepper.
A few things I learned in my first solo pickling and canning experience:
• You will need time and a clean space in which to work. Allow for 3-4 hours. Take your time to clear space, wash and prep the ingredients, etc. Sterilizing all the jars alone is quite time consuming.
• Borrow or buy all the equipment you need. As is my tendency, I tried to make do with things on hand. I could have really used a proper canning pot. One for sterilizing and one for processing would have been ideal. It wasn’t until I went to lift my first jar out that I realized I didn’t have a jar lifter. I made it work with kitchen tongs, but there was a lot of swearing and scalding water splashing involved.
• Have plenty of ice on hand for chilling the cukes (what I had in my freezer was not enough). A big bag from the grocery is best.
• Work in small batches and develop a system for getting each jar processed safely. It helped me to have a succinct list of what happens to each jar to follow as it is easy to forget to add the dill to the top or to wipe the rim.
The jars are now tucked away in our pantry (every one sealed properly!), and I am so excited to try them in a few weeks!
There are just a few days left of the sale on 3191Q Issue No. 5 and a limited number of copies, so if you don’t have this issue, now is the time! Happy summer.