There is nothing saying that canning has to take all day. Preparation, a zillion jars, boxes of veggies, apron donned, friends over. You are every bit as efficient if you are able to can a few things at a time on a whim.
Do you remember my interns from a few years back? Ethan and Stephanie would bring in a bunch of green beans every day. And then some more at night sometimes. I often prefer canned green beans and we could only eat so many fresh. Now, I was accustomed to ordering two bushels of green beans from a farmer family of mine. In a two day whirlwind I would put up enough green beans for winter so what was I going to do with all of my beans?
I wanted to teach the young interns to can so we put up a few jars. It didn’t take any time at all and then every day we just canned a few more and pretty soon the entire larder was filled with that exceptional summer of green beans and I never did have to order green beans to put up!
That summer changed my perception on canning. If things are harvested today or are fresh right now and you are not going to eat them now, can them. It all adds up. Sunday I was perusing the farmers market tables taking in all the bounty and color (mind you the only thing in season in Colorado right now is asparagus and spinach, everything else got shipped in from California….) and saw the cutest, crispest looking little cucumbers. I had never seen that particular varietal so I brought them home. They just filled two 12 ounce jars and one pint jar. That is three jars of pickles off my list of larder needs.
Holding jar at an angle place cucumbers around the edges and in the center, finagling the puzzle until they all fit snug and are ends up (doesn’t matter which end). Or slice into 1/2 rounds and place in jars. There should be one inch head space still.
Fill clean jar of cucumbers 1/2 way up with vinegar (I used my friend, HotRod’s homemade malt vinegar).
Add 1 teaspoon each of dried dill (dill isn’t in season yet), mustard seeds, celery seeds, and sea salt.
Add a smidge of hot red pepper flakes if you wish. Maybe a clove of garlic. A half teaspoon of sugar. Your choice. It’s fun to play with flavors. It doesn’t change the recipe.
Fill to 1/2 inch headspace with water. Run a damp wash rag over the rim and then replace lids.
Place in a canning or stew pot of hot water. Water level has to cover jars. You can put a towel between the jars to keep from clinking. Bring to boil and boil 5 minutes plus 1 minute for every 1000 feet above sea level. So, I did 11 or 12 minutes. Remove from pot and let sit on counter overnight. You will hear that lovely “click”, a favorite sound among homesteaders. The pickles are done in a few months. Label date and contents.
NOTE: Pour boiling water from a kettle into jars to rinse them out. Put lids in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. That is all you need to do. The whole idea is to have clean, hot jars. That does the trick.