Pressure canning is a little more complicated than hot water bath canning, but it’s not as hard as people might think. The biggest difference is that you need a special pressure canner, which usually costs under $100. I have the 23 quart Presto and I love it! The greatest part is that you can use […]
My patients know how much I love food therapy and therefore grow most of my own vegetables and preserve them through canning. So I frequently am asked to explain how to do hot water bath canning. This method can be used for anything acidic (vinegar, tomatoes, citrus, etc.), but should not be used for vegetables […]
Now that there is snow on the ground and Thanksgiving has passed, I thought it would be a good time to look over the garden bounty that I managed to get canned and preserved this year. I was surprised by all my dedication! pickled beets – 57 pints, 2 quarts bread & butter pickles – 47 […]
The morning after making 47 pints and 2 quarts of pickled beets, I received a text from a patient telling me that the farmer’s market had pickling cucumbers and I should go check them out. I rolled out of bed with aching feet and dragged myself to the market to find buckets of tempting cucumbers that I just couldn’t pass up. So I filled a cloth bag with pickling cucumbers and onions and another bag with bell peppers and other treats and staggered to the car. After looking at my busy clinic schedule for the week, I realized that day was the only time I would be able to make pickles, so I got to work. My neighbor kids helped me by washing cucumbers, separating layers of chopped onions, removing bell pepper seeds, and putting remnants in the compost bin. Then I soaked the ingredients in salt water and went to buy more jars and brine ingredients.
My love of pickled beets started when I was around 9 months old and my parents brought me to Kansas to visit my great-grandma Sarah Elizabeth Reyna. I was used to my mom’s homemade baby food and I wouldn’t eat the jarred baby food that they brought on the trip, so in desperation my mom gave me some mashed up pickled beets to try. I loved them so much that I wouldn’t eat anything else for the remainder of the trip. Then, when my sister Senia was born (14 months after me), great-grandma Sarah taught my mom how to make pickled beets because they have been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mother didn’t do much canning, but she would occasionally bring home a jar of homemade pickled beets from my aunties in my mom’s hometown of Oulu, Wisconsin. As I’ve gotten older, the pickled beets don’t often make it to my house, so I finally had my auntie Nona teach me how to do canning and make my own pickled beets a few years ago. I have been supplying my family and friends (for the pure joy of spreading the love of pickled beets!) ever since. Now that my auntie Nona and auntie Barbara are getting older, I’m taking over the role of sending the beautiful purple jars of love to them.
Canning season officially began for me today. I woke up to a kitchen full of fresh tomatoes, vidalia onions, basil, dried herbs from last year, and apples freshly picked from my tree. The thing I love most about canning is that I start with all of these wonderful ingredients, jars, lids, rings, numerous large pots, & various canning paraphernalia and I end with a clean kitchen and precisely packed jars full of beautiful produce that I can enjoy all winter. This is the ultimate experience of summer for me. Today I ended up with 12 half pints of pizza/spaghetti sauce (thanks to my uncle Marvin for the tomatoes & to Kate for the recipe) as well as 5 half pints & 3 pints of applesauce (thanks to my beautiful tree for providing bountiful apples this year). I already made some strawberry-rhubarb preserves in June, but this is my official kickoff!
When I woke up this morning, I had a frozen sternocleidomastoid muscle in my neck and the thought of canning seemed very overwhelming. After using heat, ice, arnica gel, and heat again, I decided it was probably going to hurt all day. So I got started canning in the afternoon, thinking that maybe I wouldn’t do much canning this year. By the end of the 4 hours, I was thoroughly enjoying myself & hardly noticing my neck as I juggled pots of boiling water & bounced to the music. I even cooked up some Crispy Mung Beans and dried the sage out of my garden so I can use it for the Thanksgiving stuffing. I’ve been smiling all day thinking about how much my family will love their delicious organic treats at Christmas and dreaming about the new canning recipes I’m going to try this year to surprise them. Maybe being the only person in my immediate family who can carry on the family tradition of canning isn’t so bad!
You Know You’re Obsessed with Gardening When…
You know the difference between mulch, compost, composted manure, fertilizer, peat, and dirt.
Your neighbors recognize you in your pajamas and clogs from doing early morning watering.
You take every single person who enters your house on a “garden tour”.
You had to buy a special brush to clean under your fingernails at the beginning of the work week.
People use words like granola, earthy, eclectic, and bohemian to describe you.
You’ll spend a whole day canning in a 100 degree kitchen.
People call you to see if they can come over to get some green onions instead of going to the store.
You can fill an 18 gallon bin with mulch in under a minute.
You bribe people to help you with tasks by promising them vegetables.
Neighbors stop by to ask you questions, even when you’ve never met them before.
You plan on buying a fuel-efficient SUV for your next vehicle so you can haul more mulch.
You’ll drive 4 hours just to pick up composted manure.
Your sisters come to you for plants instead of going to the store.
You find yourself feeling leaves, flowers and trunks of trees wherever you go.
When considering your budget, plants are more important than groceries.
You always carry a pitchfork or shovel, gardening gloves, and bags in the trunk as emergency tools.
You have a typed map of your gardens, including a desire list.
You know what it feels like when your fingernails hurt from digging too much with your hands.
You don’t understand why people have to lay around to get a tan.
You’ll get up early to water the garden, but not to meet your friends for breakfast.
You spend more time chopping your kitchen greens for the compost pile than for cooking.
You know when official planting day is for your area & you know how to decide when it can be earlier.
You can identify plants by their leaves or sprouts and quiz yourself on each plant when going for walks.
You own a pitchfork, even though you live in the city.
You rejoice in rain… even after 10 straight days of it.
You take pride in how bad your hands look.
You do laundry only when you need fresh gardening clothes.
You have your relatives bring plants when they come to visit.
You have a decorative compost container on your kitchen counter.
You can give away plants easily, but compost is another thing.
You drive around on recycling day to gather discarded newspapers for placing under mulch.
When you go to the farmer’s market, you stay an extra hour to answer strangers’ questions by the seedlings.
You’d rather go to a plant nursery than a clothes store.
Your neighbor kids know how to put their food remnants in your compost bin.
You ask for gardening tools for Christmas, your birthday and any other occasion you can think of.
You can’t bear to thin seedlings and throw them away. You say they just want to live!
You’re trying to revive the canning movement.
You know how many gallons of mulch your car will hold.
You can get to the compost site from memory, but still get lost on your way to your sister’s house.
Your take pictures of your garden every week so in the winter you can plan which plants to add at what times.
You know what zone you live in.
You exclaim out loud when you find a new plant left on your deck for you by a neighbor.
Your non-gardening sisters start rolling their eyes as soon as you start talking about your day.
You start a blog because facebook’s status updates don’t allow enough words to explain your excitement!
My aunt got me 40 new canning jars that she found when helping a lady clean out her basement. So I excitedly picked them up today and drove by Linder’s garden center on the way home. Uh-oh, I thought, stick to your list. I dragged my rain-weary body inside to the warmth of the greenhouse and wandered all the aisles while dreaming of my gardens. I was able to stick to my list and only bought organic herbs and some annuals to brighten my front walkway. I chose multi-colored violas for the front walk since they dry really well and then my mom can make bookmarks and cards with them. I also got bright orange marigolds for the window boxes on my front porch because they remind me of my ama in Nepal – she loves “saipatri”. Somehow along the way, I forgot about the rain and the sun came out, if only for me.
• 4 quarts small canning cucumbers, sliced thin (1 medium cucumber = 1 pint)
• 6 small onions, sliced thin (or 2 large)
• 2 green peppers, cut in ¼” strips
• 1 red pepper, cut in ¼” strips
• 3 cloves garlic
• ½ cup kosher canning salt (or coarse sea salt)
• 6-2/3 cups sugar
• 2 tsp turmeric
• 2 tsp celery seed
• 2-2/3 T. mustard seed
• 4 cups apple cider vinegar
1. Cut vegetables and place in bowl with garlic & salt. Cover with water. Mix well.
2. Let stand on counter at least 3 hours (preferably overnight).
3. Drain well. Put in clean, boiled jars to bottom of rim.
4. Combine brine ingredients in pot. Heat brine to boil.
5. Pour brine into jars to bottom of rim. Wipe off tops of jars with damp cloth.
6. Seal jars and boil in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes about 8 pints.
4 bunches of about 10 small beets (or 4 cans sliced beets)
2 cups organic sugar
1½ cups apple cider vinegar
½ to ¾ cup beet juice (or water)
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. organic whole cloves (or pickling spice)
Boil beets in water for 1-2 hours.
Pour all ingredients for brine in separate pot.
Put jars, lids, and tops in another large pot and cover with water.
When beets are fork tender, start boiling pots of water with jars and brine.
Rinse beets with cold water.
Peel and slice beets.
Once boiled, take jars, lids, and tops out of water with tongs and put on clean towel.
Put beets in jars (only to where neck gets narrower).
Pour brine over beets, leaving ½ inch of air.
Put lids and tops on jars tightly.
Place jars back in pot of boiling water.
Boil for 20 minutes.
When done, place upright on clean towel for 12-24 hours. Bands should not be re-tightened.
To ensure lids are sealed, remove bands and try to lift lids off with fingertips.
Screw bands back on.
Store in cool, dry place.
Makes 2 big quart jars or 4 small pint jars.
NOTE: If making refrigerated beets, you don’t have to boil the jars. You just put the ingredients in a clean jar, seal, and refrigerate. They are good for 3-4 weeks.