Adventures in canning pickles

Looking for a healthy, tasty, money-saving hobby? Try canning. It only requires a few basic pieces of equipment, tested canning recipes and access to nature’s bounty.

My canning mentor is my friend Jennifer. She can whip up a batch of pickles as easily as I can make a batch of Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies. Check out  The Spiral Cookbook for her recipes and cooking techniques. Hopefully, she will start hosting community canning sessions in Savannah, Georgia. Canning is so much more fun when you share the experience with friends.

Tips if you are just getting started:

  • Don’t wing it. Use tested canning recipes, which will make sure the final product has the proper acidity to be safely stored. Check out these canning books.
  • Only use jars made for home canning. They are thicker and less likely to break during the heating processes.
  • Sterilize the jars for 10 minutes in a rolling boil, then take the lid off the
  • Hot water bath times vary. Some recipes call for 15 minutes in a rolling boil hot water bath. Other recipes call for a 10-minute rolling boil hot water bath, then turn off the heat and remove the lid and keep the jars in the water for another 5 minutes. Either way works just fine.
  • Splurge on a Ball utensil set or a  Norpro 6-piece canning set. The funnel alone will make your canning experience so much easier, and the magnetic lid-lifter is pure genius.
  • Have three towels handy: One to set sterilized jars on, one to wipe down the rims of the jars after filing them, and one to set full jars on after they leave the hot water bath. Keep in mind that tumeric will make impressive yellows stains on them if you spill any brine while filling jars.
  • Use one big pot that fits in the refrigerator for salting and icing the cucumbers and onions (if you are making bread and butter pickles). When I transfer the raw vegetables to a colander to rinse the salt off, I then use the pot for making hot brine and will eventually add the raw vegetables to the brine.
  • Set a second big pot of water on the stove to boil as your first step when you want to do some canning. Heating the water seems to be the slowest part of the process. You will need the hot water to sterilize your empty canning jars and later for hot water bath for the full jars.
  • Plan ahead where you will be setting the hot full jars after they come out of the hot water bath because they need to sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours.
  • Don’t use older pickling cucumbers, ones that have grown too big. The skins may be tough, and the developed seeds may be unpleasant to eat.
  • If you reuse your pot of water from one day of canning to the next, make sure the last batch of jars sealed properly. Otherwise, like me, you will find residue on the outside of the new batch of jars that comes out of the hot water bath.

Photographs from when Jennifer and I made a batch of bread and butter pickles.

The first four steps of canning bread and butter pickles are slicing, salting and icing.
The first four steps of canning bread and butter pickles are slicing, salting and icing. Nine pounds of cucumbers and several onions made a dozen pints of bread and butter pickles.
Making brine and adding cucumbers and onions
Add mustard seeds, turmeric (gives it the lovely yellow color) and sugar to vinegar and bring the mixture to a boil to make brine. Next, add the raw vegetables to the brine and bring it all to a boil.
Filling canning jars using a handy canning funnel and then giving them a hot water bath
Filling canning jars using a handy canning funnel and then giving them a hot water bath
Bread and butter pickles by Kristine K. Stevens
Unlike my bread and butter pickles, the Mt. Olive brand contains high fructose corn syrup (I used white sugar), onion flakes, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate, and yellow 5 (I use turmeric).

About Kristine K. Stevens

Book Cover200Kristine is the author of "If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It Isn't Big Enough: A Solo Journey Around the World." This nonfiction book tells the story of how she sold her house, quit her job and traveled around the world.

Kirkus Book Review: "... Stevens makes a friendly, relatable narrator ... plenty of colorful stories to make this an enjoyable, inspiring read... An often sweet memoir about finding oneself in many different places."

Next travel book to spotlight Iceland

25817249396_f6c787ef9f_z Kristine broke free from a desk job once again, and this time ended up volunteering in the far corners of Iceland!

Details about the release of this book will be posted on Facebook.