As part of my love of summer, I had my first weekend of canning last weekend. We now have pickles and salsa!! Dill pickles are a favorite around our house.
So how can you improve on something the kids already like? Make it yourself (with a few helpers, of course)!
We start by picking cucumbers from the garden. Explaining to my husband that we want to pick them before they get seeds the size of a small child is still something we're working on, but we'll get there. Then we wash the veggies and slice, or cut into spears. Before we load the jars up, we put a grape leaf in the bottom of the jar. That's a TOP SECRET tip I learned from a CI to keep the pickles crunchy. Then we load the jar up, until it's about an inch from the top, with cucumbers. Next, add sliced onions, diced fresh garlic, and dill. Make sure to really get all those ingredients down into the jar, not on top of the cucumbers. Last year I used dried dill courtesy of Watkins spices, but this year I grew my own and used fresh. While all of this is going on, I boil a mixture of vinegar and water on the stove. I would never do more than a 50/50 ratio on this. I actually prefer about one part vinegar to 3 parts water. And of course some canning salt. Pour the boiling liquid over the cucumbers and can as normal.
The next item on the canning to-do list is salsa. I canned, and canned, and canned last year and all of that only got us through September! So I vowed this year to make so much salsa I never wanted to see the stuff again. This is basically the same thing I made in my earlier post, but adapted for canning. A word of caution with salsa, make sure you follow directions! Because of this, I'm not going to post my recipe, but rather link you up to some good resources.
Pick Your Own.Org is a great resource for all your farm fresh needs. And best of all, all of their canning recipes are verified by USDA to make sure your home canning experience does not include a trip to the hospital because of botulism. Another resource is the The National Center for Home Food Preservation. Basically the big deal with salsa is tomatoes are a low acid food, therefor on the border when it comes to canning. I always, always add lemon juice to my salsa to up the acidity.
Canning was something I took up last year and will probably continue to do for years to come. Hopefully, you'll give it a try and never have to wonder where your salsa came from. Stay tuned for jellies, and a couple months down the road, applesauce and apple butter!