This past weekend, my husband and I spent some time with his sister and her son. We attended a local parade featuring our local high school marching band. Our son plays trumpet and this was their first performance of the school year. The weather was cooperative and we found a great spot under a large tree to watch the parade. After the parade, the students headed back to the school to take their yearly group picture. Since we had some time (and somehow got to talking about the farmer’s market) we headed down the street to peruse the wares being offered by our local farmers. My sister-in-law mentioned that she wanted to can some pickles this year. I have done this before and need to can some for this year since we have used all that I canned from last year. It was decided that we would buy some cucumbers and do it together at my house and invite my mother-in-law to participate, as well.
It was so much fun to can pickles with others! I usually do these kind of things by myself, as my daughters have no interest in this sort of past time. I think the most fun part was watching my mother-in-law gripe at my husband for touching the jars after they were filled, capped, processed in the water bath and set aside to allow the vacuum sealing to occur. His face!!! Comical! He thought she was joking and touched the jar again. I thought she was gonna flip her lid! Poor guy.
It was my nephew’s first experience with canning. He’s young, only mid-twenties, and I thought he’d just be in the way honestly. But he helped slice the cucumbers, was interested in preparing the pickling juice and even poured the juice into the jars after we stuffed them with cucumbers. I was very pleasantly surprised.
We used Mrs. Wages Dill Pickling spice mixes and followed the directions on the back of the package. Last year, I used a recipe I found online which included more spices such as red pepper flakes and those little tiny balls of pepper like you see in pepper mill grinders. That recipe made for a prettier finished product, I think. But, since this was a last minute endeavor, I didn’t have time to find that recipe or collect the ingredients for it.
The entire process took a couple of hours to complete and we ended up with twenty-three jars of pickles, some sliced into thick cuts like Vlasic’s sandwich stackers, others just smaller round ones like you’d use to top hamburgers. Not too shabby!
To celebrate all of our hard work, we gathered around the dining room table and ate cake. Of course we did! Coconut cream cake, it was delicious. Not one of us girls needed the calories, but never let it be said that my mother-in-law went to a party without bringing a gift of food. LOL
After about thirty minutes of conversation we heard the first ping — that’s when the vacuum seal is complete and the lid is sucked inward creating the seal that keeps the pickles fresh until you open the jar to consume them. Though standing at the counter, sink and stove preparing the jars, the vegetables and completing the steps to finish this project can be back breaking, tiring work, it’s all forgotten when those musical pings start filling the air. It’s a very gratifying way to spend an afternoon, in my opinion. One that pays off all year long not only with fresh, crisp pickles (without the hefty price tag at the grocery store) but with the memories of a fun afternoon with family, as well.
My sister-in law also brought gifts of fresh cherry tomatoes from her garden and sunflowers from her yard. Pretty awesome, and so pretty! I can’t wait to spend another afternoon with my family doing this again. Maybe next time we’ll make some strawberry jam so I can show my sister-in-law how to use my Ball Jam & Jelly making appliance. Or perhaps we’ll make a large pot of Caramel Apple Jam; I’ve been dying to try that recipe.
Feel free to share your favorite canning memories here. I’d love to hear from all you crafty Beauty Brite readers!
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