Disclaimer! I meant to post this in summer and just found it in my draft folder. D’oh! For those of you in warmer climates it’s still relevant. For those of you in cooler climates, take it as motivation for next summer! Now, for the post …
My little garden in Wangari Gardens, a community garden in Park View, DC, got a late start this year. Frosty weather lasted way too long this year, and I wasn’t able to plant my things until May. But, it’s finally catching up. Now I’ve got a ton of tomatoes; bunches of basil, dill, rosemary, and everything else; lots of little peppers; and my first ever batch of baby onions!
There’s a lot more happening in my garden, but the dill and onions were planted strategically for the purpose of canning. I’ve never canned a thing in my life, but I decided to learn this year. So many of my cherry tomatoes were wasted last summer–there’s only so many you can eat before they go bad. (And there are only so many coworkers to pawn them off on.) Enter: pickling. Shout out to TheKitchn for this great recipe (here).
I quickly learned that pickling can go wrong if you’re not paying attention. So, pay attention. There are a lot of things going on at the same time (at least for me, because I have no patience). For example, you have to sterilized the jars first, then make sure they don’t touch anything (or you’ll have to sterilize them again), and then make sure they’re hot when you add food to them, but then you have to make the brine, and you have to have the water boiling and ready, and who is chopping the veggies?!
So here’s what I did. My dishwasher takes about 50 minutes from start to finish. I threw my canning jars and lids in the dishwasher and quickly pivoted to chopping veggies. I prepared the ingredients for the brine first and got that bad boy started. The brine is a boil up of sugar, salt, apple cider vinegar, water, garlic, coriander, and peppercorns. After letting it simmer for 5 minutes, I set it aside to cool. It needs to be closer to room temperature before pouring it into the cans.
While the brine cooled I loaded a big pot with water and set that on high to boil. This is the pot you’ll use to complete the canning process. Since you’ll need a lot of boiling water for this it’s important to get the water started early–this will ensure you have a rolling boil when the cans come out of the dishwasher.
With the water heating up, I moved on to chopping veggies. Of course, wash everything first, chop up the tomatoes and peppers, then use toothpicks to poke several holes into every tomato. This is how the tomatoes suck up all the flavor. You could remove the skins from the cherry tomatoes, but that sounded like a lot of work I just don’t have the patience for. More power to you if you do!
When the dishwasher is done doing its thing, take the cans out immediately and shove your prepped veggies into them. I added rosemary in some and dill in others. A couple lucky jars got some whole cayenne peppers. Next, get the lids on these guys, but make sure not to get your germs all over the inside of the jars and lids. You know, because you just spent an hour sterilizing these things.
With your jars full of veggies, pour the brine into the cans, leaving space at the top. With a sterilized spoon or something, mix the contents of the cans slowly to try to remove as many bubbles as possible. Add the lid and screw the ring on so that it’s fingertip tight. Yeah, what does fingertip tight mean? I had to google it too. It means tighten it with the tip of your fingers until you feel resistance. You don’t want to make the seal too tight.
Quickly, do all this now before the jars cool down too much!
Behold! Here is my very first pickled product! I’ll open one for myself (one as a tester) and give two away for birthday gifts next week. Important to know — they’re only good for about two weeks and they need to be refrigerated. These are pickled and not canned, which is different. I found the most perfect card to go along with my home canned, home grown veggies. Thank you, Michaels crafts store. You never fail me.
Oh, and it tastes AMAZING!