Saturday, June 2, 2012


Chrissie and I finally took the plunge and attended a canning class. We had been skirting around the edges of canning for the past year or so. For one reason or another, we just never got around to it, but then Chrissie found a groupon for a canning class and signed us up. No more excuses. Really, it's one of the first things I should have picked up on because I love pickled everything so much. If you give me anything that's been brined or pickled, you win me over.

Canning pickled things is super easy. All you need are vinegar, salt, water, spices, and the food you want to pickle. You need some equipment, the bare essentials being jars, a stock pot, canning lids, and a device to remove the cans from the boiling water, like tongs.

From there, you grab a recipe and make your pickles. There is a great resource from the University of Georgia in conjunction with the Dept. of Agriculture (or maybe is the USDA) that has detailed information about every step of the process. Here's the link. The best part, it's all free. It's like, for the betterment of mankind or something. ;)

I think part of the reason I never picked up canning was because we never grew anything in a large enough quantity to justify it, and I couldn't bring myself to buy produce just to stick it in a jar. Going to the class helped turn me around though. When fruits and vegetables are out of season, the quality goes down and the price goes up. Buying produce in season and preserving them is a nice way to work around that. What's more, I found out that some local farm operations sell "canning boxes," which is produce that can't be sold on the shelf (because of bruising or whatever) but are perfect for going into a can. These canning boxes get sold a big discount. Not everyone does though, so do the rounds at your local farmer's market.

So, without further adieu, here are some pictures of our first canning adventure: pickled asparagus.

I cut off the woodier stalks and then halved the shoots to fit in a can.

Our stock pot. Note: water boils faster if the lid is on!

The asparagus was accompanied by 3 cloves of garlic and 1/4 of a jalapeno.
The finished product cooling down.
Here's the recipe:

1 pound of raw asparagus
4(ish) quart size jars
Vinegar - 5% acidity
"Seasoning" per jar
 - 1/2 teaspoon salt of pickling salt (kosher salt is an acceptable substitute, but double the amount)
 - 3 cloves of garlic
 - 1/4 of a jalapeno

1. Wash the asparagus. The cut it and fill the jars with as many as will fit. Leave 1 inch of space at the top of the jar for air.
2. Add the seasoning.
3. Fill the jar halfway up with vinegar and the rest of the way with water. Remember to leave 1 inch of air at the top.
4. Put on your lid and tighten it moderately - not too loose or too tight.
5. Fill a stock pot with cool water and load it with jars. Bring it to a hard boil. Boil jars for 15 minutes. This time will differ depending on your altitude. Non-Sea-Level people, you know who you are.
6. Remove jars from pot and let them cool at room temperature for 12-18 hours. Let them cool on a surface that will not be affected by intense heat. Naked countertops not recommended!
7. Once everything is cooled, make sure you take off the rings and just leave the lid in place. This will prevent the rings and lids from rusting around the edges.
8. Let the cans sit for at least a week and then enjoy. Store them in a cool, dark place. These will keep for a long time. My rule of thumb is to use them within 1-2 years.

I hope this helps you all and happy canning!

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