Yesterday, as part of my no-computer day, I pulled all of this year’s canning out of the closet, off the counter, and up from the basement, arranged it on the table, and made a list of everything I have left to date (after using a few jars and selling or giving away many).
Altogether, I figure I’ve gotten close to two hundred jars put by this season.
There’s lots of different kinds of pickles, tomato products, and more fruit than I’ve probably ever canned before–in addition to the usual Colorado peaches that H. picks up, it was a good year for fruit here–crabapples, apples, pears, and plums all found their way into the canner (the chokecherries that I didn’t juice are frozen in bags, and may become jelly at a later date).
Only two items pressure canned this season–the ratatouille and the tomato-vegetable soup. If I can get my hands on a large quantity of venison, that figure might change (anyone care to fill a tag?). It’s nice to have a little meat put by that doesn’t require refrigeration.
One thing you won’t see in the image above is the very last project of the season (barring unexpected gifts of can-able food in bulk): the crock pickles. My friend Gail stopped by yesterday, and being less timid and more convinced of my food preservation skills than I, she convinced me to reach in the crock and pull out a couple to try.
Since neither of us is dead this morning (well, I’m not, so I assume she isn’t either), I figured it was time to get them preserved, so I can return the crock to its rightful owner along with a few quarts of lovely whole dill pickles.
You can, of course, store the pickles in the crock, but I don’t want to try to transport a heavy five-gallon crock half-full of pickles up the stairs and across town.
The second batch of those salty treasures is close to coming out of the canner–I managed to get two whole canner loads of little pickles out of what I put in the crock–fourteen quarts in all.
I put a little fresh dill seed and a half a hot wax pepper in each jar, along with a chunk of garlic. Much to my surprise, the garlic chunks turned BLUE! I’ve never seen that before, but a quick Google search told me it’s a normal chemical reaction and is perfectly safe to eat. Whew!
I can sometimes get a little laissez-faire about canning projects I’ve done many times (well, as laissez-faire as you can get while still keeping everything scrupulously clean and correctly processed), but when it comes to something that’s been sitting in a crock in my basement for a few months and of which I’ve already promised a part to people I don’t want to sicken or kill, I look for any excuse to declare it unsafe and dump it.
But I can’t seem to do that with these pickles–I’m going to have to declare them a success. Now, if all the jars seal, I’ll have a good quantity of old fashioned fermented crock pickles to eat over the course of a couple of years. Yum!
Now, with canning season drawing to a close, my favorite canine muse and helper won’t run out of the kitchen in fear every time she sees the canner come up from the basement, and can go back to her usual policy of lying right in the way of whatever it is I think I’m going to accomplish.