Thursday, October 07, 2010

In a Pickle

One of the reasons motivating us to sign up for a CSA this year was to broaden our food horizons. I hoped it would give me a chance to grow as a cook and to change my perspective on food and cooking. Instead of picking a recipe and finding ingredients sourced from all over the world, I'd be given ingredients and then would need to find a recipe to use them. I'd also have to face one of my fears - canning.

The thought of canning is terrifying to me. I don't hesitate in purchasing items canned by large factories in far away places. I figure they have the whole canning thing under wraps. Home canning, though, scares the dickens out of me. You could kill someone if you don't do it right! I've put off canning all season, opting to build our compost pile instead. With our CSA winding down to an end, an abundance of okra, and the rememberance of the yummy pickled okra from our CSA, it was time for me to tackle my fear.

I pulled out my canning kit, talked to the preservation spokesperson at the farmer's market, bought a boiling canning pot, and promptly spent the next three hours clearing trees from our backyard. When we were out of trees, I tidied up the house. My procrastination options quickly dwindled before me, and I was forced into entering the kitchen.

I read the directions. I read the hand-outs from the preservation spokesperson. I convinced myself I was capable and dove in. Stressed to the maxed and believing this adventure would end in death, I scared everyone out of the kitchen.
From Irish Clover

When the jars were filled and boiling, waiting to be sealed, Italian came back in to reiterate yet again how safe canning is. For starters, I'm making a pickle. He reminded me of the high acidity of vinegar. Almost nothing would survive the vinegar. Secondly, pickling requires cooking the pickling liquid. It's cooked. Few things surviving cooking. Thirdly, sealing the jars means boiling the jars for 10 minutes. I'm cooking again. Lastly, if the jars don't seal, then we stick them in the fridge and eat them first, as if they were leftovers. At this point, my jars were out of the canner and the first one popped shut. Oh, what a happy sound!
From Irish Clover

I told friends and family about the canning effort and asked if someone would please check on Little Clover if we suddenly stopped coming around. He's the only one in the house who doesn't like pickles. After the jars had time to rest, we tentatively tried the okra. Actually, Italian dove right in. I kept a watchful eye on him for a bit, watching for signs of illness. When he seemed okay, I tried a pickle myself. They aren't the best, but hey, we're still alive.

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