Birthday Pickling Marathon (July 20)

20Jul13

A few weekends ago I went home to my parents place to visit with my grandma and for my father’s birthday.  I never know what to get my dad for his birthday, but he loves pickles so this year I decided I was going to make him a big batch of pickles.

First I scoured the internet for recipes and found several small batch recipes so he could have a nice assortment of pickles, then mom and I went off to the grocery store and market to get supplies.

Farmers Market CukesLocal BeansLocal Garlic

After getting some spices and salts at the Bulk Barn, I found Ontario rainbow carrots and Ontario beets at the grocery store along with all the vinegar I needed. Then, to the farmer’s market. Woodstock has this really great farmer’s market in the parking lot at Home Hardware. It was quite impressive! They had tonnes of good stuff. I picked up some local white and green beans (the first crop of the season!) and the last bit of pickling cucumbers. After picking  up some jars at Home Hardware, we went home to start the prep.

I spent the afternoon washing, scrubbing, peeling, and cutting veggies. After dinner, I got out my mom’s canning pot and started the water boiling.

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And then I waited. And waited.

Canning in someone else’s kitchen can throw off your flow. At home, I use a stock pot as my canner, while my mom has a standard canning pot with a rack. I was surprised at how much longer it took to come to a boil! My parents also have a gas oven that they got after I moved out, so I didn’t have much experience using it (not that I cooked much when I lived at home..). It was the small things, though, that threw me off: instead of having the knobs that control the elements on back part of the stove, theirs is on the right side of the stovetop. I eventually had to use post-its to label the knobs so I’d know immediately which went to which element.

Because mom doesn’t use a jar lifter for canning (you don’t really need one when you have a canning rack), I thought it would be easier to sterilize the jars in the oven. I looked on a site online and it said to put them in at 250F for 10 minutes. (**Note: the National Centre for Home Preservation says to boil jars to sterilize them. It doesn’t mention sterilizing them in the oven that I can recall, but I’ve also read in many places that oven sterilization is not recommended because it can lead to thermal shock / jar breakage due to the temperature fluctuation when you open the oven). I was planning on using all 12 jars that I purchased, so I sterilized them in the oven in two batches as needed, ie I’d sterilize six jars, keep them warm in the oven until I needed them, used those jars, sterilize six more etc.). Three out of four of my recipes had processing times of 10 minutes, so on those sterilization isn’t necessary but I do it anyway because, well, why not.

My recipes for the day:
Gingery Pickled Beets – recipe says yield was 3 pints, my yield was 3 pints.
Dilly Carrots – receipe said the yield was 1 pint and a half jar, but I got 2 pints out of it
Dilly Beans – didn’t change the receipe, my yield was 4 pints
Garlic Dill Pickles – the recipes says it yields 8 pints. I halved the recipe, but only had 3 jars left so my yield was 3 processed pints and several random jars of unprocessed refrigerator pickles

It was quite the marathon! I did each recipe separately. The oven had one element for the canner, one pot to heat the lids, and one pot to boil the brine. My key to doing this marathon was to pre-fill large measuring cups with all the brines, which worked quite well.

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The whole thing took about 3 hours. I was hoping to go out that evening, but after that marathon I just wanted to go to bed and fall asleep.

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I took one jar of each pickle, but gave the rest of jars to dad for his birthday. I haven’t tried any yet and am unsure if dad has… I’ll update the post with how they taste.

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