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Canning

Challenge of the weekend? Canning. Oh, and pickling. Having a slew of pickling cukes, zucchini and summer squash from our CSA means having to be creative with preparing and preserving.

I had never canned before, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the whole process was. I’m sure the more practice you have, the quicker it goes too.

I was inspired by an article in the August edition of Bon Appetit (yes, most of my inspiration comes from here!): http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/08/zucchini-dill-pickles

And figured out how to can from the Ball website: http://www.freshpreserving.com/home.aspx

Since both of those links will provide you with better instructions than myself, I do encourage you to check them out if you’re interested in doing this. But because the point of this blog is to share what I’ve done…  

Step 1: Chop your zuchinni into 4” spheres and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of coarse salt, cover in 4 cups of ice, then in water. Let sit sumberged for 2 hours. Afterwards, drain and rinse.

Step 2: Prepare the jars (quart size for this recipe). Fill a large pot with water and place jars in. Turn heat on medium/high and let reach to 180 degrees. At this point your jars will be steralized. If you skip this step, you may end up with moldy food. And no one wants that. Remove jars with long tongs (make sure to empty the water out) and place on a clean kitchen towel. Don’t forget to do this to your lids as well.

Step 3: Meanwhile, prepare your herbs and other innards for the jars. This includes 12 sprigs of fresh dill, 3 hot peppers sliced in half, 2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp dill seeds, 1/4 tsp saffron and 1 tsp cardamon seeds.

Step 4: When your jars are sterilized, transfer ingredients from step 3 into the jars.

Step 5: In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 1/2 cups of white vinegar, 1 1/4 cups of water, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbsp of salt to a boil. Cook zuchinni spears for 2 minutes until wilted and the color starts to turn khaki.

Step 6: Transfer zuchinni spears into jar.

Step 7: Wipe the rim with a clean towl. Place lid on and screw on until you hit resistance. Bring the large pan of water to a boil (I had mine simmering while I filled the jars) and place can in water bath for 10 minutes. Note, you need to ensure that you don’t start the time until the water starts to boil again AND cover the pot with a lid. After 10 minutes, let the jar sit for a few minutes before removing. Repeat if your pan is not large enough to fit all of your jars.

Step 8: Let sit out and cool. After 12 – 24 hours check to make sure the jar sealed.

You will notice that I lost a lot of liquid in the first jar. Make sure your lids are screwed on tight!

Oh, and I made regular pickles too. Mostly using the previous recipe (don’t cook the cucumber though!) and halving the amount of spices and pickling solution.

I’ll let you know how they taste next week.

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