We have been enjoying a plethora of produce from our little backyard garden - who knew these crazy things would get SO big when we started them from seed last spring? We nurtured the seeds on the kitchen table, in the feeble springtime light for weeks and weeks - finally transplanting them to a couple of bare spots in our play area. They were tiny forever. Then, it got hot. And they grew. And grew. And grew. And now, in late August, they have completely taken over that space! Check it out -Cucumbers are in the foreground, with a cherry tomato plant in the background. Below, you can see a better view of the tomatoes - they are so big they have actually moved in on the third swing, causing much dismay to the 8 and under crowd.What to do? The whole project got started, actually, as a way to get the kids to eat more vegetables. As in, you plant it, you eat it. Lauren voted for carrots (those didn't work out, which she still is happy about), Reed asked for tomatoes, and Grace said we should plant pickles. What we didn't count on, however, was the sheer volume of cucumbers we would get from that one plant. Here you can see one evening's harvest, along with the counter top full of cucumbers!
The obvious solution, of course, is pickles. I have actually really wanted to try my hand at canning for a few years now, so this gave me the perfect excuse to finally buy a canner. I followed a recipe for dill pickles found in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It was pretty simple, yes a bit stinky, but that was gone within an hour of opening some windows. Kirk actually claimed he liked the smell!
So, the process. First you sterilize your jars, lids, and rims... here they are drying...Then, there was a lot of cutting to do while the water came to a rolling boil in the canner.I got the brine going in a pot next to the canner - this is the stinky stuff! Water, apple cider vinegar, and pickling salt - this too has to boil. And once finished cutting I filled my jars leaving 1/2" headspace...I added the brine as well as dill and mustard seeds to the jars, wiped the rims, put on the lids and bands, and then processed in the canner for 10 minutes. I honestly have no idea if my method was correct (like, how much water do you actually need in the canner? ) Probably some important details got missed. Oh well. We actually won't know for another week or so, as the jars (which did seal, I might add) are currently fermenting. In the meantime, this is what they look like, next to another little bit of handmade goodness. This was one of the towels my great-grandmother made for me, for my wedding. I'm sure she made many a pickle in her day.