One of my favourite things about summer is getting the chance to can and pickle various local produce for the winter. It’s a lot of work, but if done right, can give me access to less expensive, healthier, and more environmentally friendly food all year round.
I learned how to can and pickle from my mother. She used to do it every summer and, though not always willingly, I used to help her. I still use the recipes she taught me, though the specific measurements are what I remember and so may not be exactly the same. Some recipes I discovered and created myself.
Polish pickles are something I always want to do, but often only manage to do a few jars when I manage to do any at all. It’s a shame because these pickles, which are fermented and use no vinegar, are really the only ones I truly like and that don’t hurt my stomach.
They have a wonderful slightly spice taste, they’re salty, garlicky, and just perfect on a rye bread with some liverwurst and salami, and a slice of tomato. They’re also the base for Pickle Soup.
This year, through sheer iron determination and buying small batches of pickles at a time, I managed to can more than ever before. All told I currently have 19 jars of pickles, and I’m pretty sure I gave away 3 jars.
Some I canned the old fashioned way, but the rest I put through a water-bath canner. I’ve never done that before so I look forward to seeing what that does to the overall process
When canning, expect to boil a lot of water. About the only thing I’ve canned that doesn’t use any is tomatoes.
Here I boil the water along with some pickling salt. I use the jars to measure out a bunch of water, and I add about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons of pickling salt per jar. Why pickling salt? Because it creates a cleaner product and doesn’t kill the beneficial bacteria needed for lactofermentation. I believe kosher salt is essentially the same thing, but I could be wrong.
Next gathering the ingredients is important. You will need fresh dill, garlic, pickling spices, and horseradish. The horseradish is the hardest to find to be honest, but I finally managed to track some down at Farm Boy. If anyone in Ottawa had local horseradish I would love some.
The horseradish has to be peeled and cubed. You want at least about a square inch or so. I’ve put about two in each jar because I like it. Each jar also gets about 2 cloves of garlic, one whole piece of dill, and about a tsp of pickling spices.
A word about the Jars:
You want to start with very clean jars. In the older method, I would wash them, boil them, bake them at 400 then stuff with cucumbers while still hot and cover with boiling water. Then I would seal them, and flip them upside down overnight.
In the newer method, fill them and leave them filled and standing in hot water until the salted water boils. Then fill them, seal them, and then process in a waterbath canner for 5 minutes.
If any of the jars don’t seal properly, put them in the fridge. They should be able to stay there for up to 2 months I think? Only one of mine didn’t seal post processing, though by the time I was able to get to the water bath the jars had gotten cold, so I don’t know entirely what will happen.
Before I seal the jars, I top off with 1 tsp of local honey that I picked up at Maple Hill Farms. This serves two purposes, adding a touch of sweetness to counter the pickling spices, but also the honey’s antibacterial properties help keep the jars healthy.