Canning Pickles and Other Green Things

Last week I scrounged up all the cucumbers I could find in my fridge and garden. The thing about having only one cucumber plant is that they don’t mature at the same time. So, I cheated in a big way, and where it says in the canning book to use only the freshest, firmest produce, well, I might have fudged that a little bit. I only had enough to put back four quarts of pickles. Let me tell you, some of these cucumbers are big mothers. So I sliced them up and used a lovely little bag of Mrs. Dill’s pickling mix or something like that. I found it in the canning aisle at Martin’s grocery store. This is the first time I’ve done pickles. In my checkered past I have canned tomatoes, peaches, blueberry pie filling, applesauce, apples and green beans. I do wish I had thought a little bit more ahead, because I had a monster zucchini in the fridge I could have pickled with the remaining pickling juice. Next time.

It only took me about an hour to do four quarts, and that satisfying ‘pop!’ was so wonderful to hear, especially since I had forgotten to stick my spatula in the jars and get the air bubbles out. The kids were funny when they came home from school. They wanted pickles right now! But I told them we had to wait at least 24 hours. I’ve also read that the longer pickles sit, the better they’ll taste. So those shiny jars of pickle green are staring at me from the deepest part of my cereal cupboard. Will I open them today? No. I’m made of sterner stuff than that. When I do open them, I hope they taste as good as they smelled when I was processing them. I will report on the pickles’ success as soon as I cave in to the pressure.

Canning produce straight from my garden is a very awesome experience. I planted the young cuke with my bare hands. It produced! And now I have homemade pickles in the pantry. I literally get giddy when I think about it. My tomatoes are also not ripening together, so not sure how I’ll handle the tomato production. I have some great recipes for spaghetti sauce/pizza sauce/salsa, so maybe I won’t need the plants to mature all at once in order to do a little more canning.

I also planted some second generation bean seeds. As in, I let the beans dry on the stalk, and when I went to clean up the garden this spring, I found them and planted them come bean-plantin’ time. How amazing that little feat was. It may not be a big deal to anyone else, but to think that the DNA in that hard little brown bean knew just what to do, and I had four of the eight beans come up and produce. Again, not enough plants are producing and ripening at the same time for a genuine green bean harvest, but still, gratifying nonetheless. I’m already thinking about what I’ll do different with next year’s garden.

I can’t help but think about the counsel we’ve received from prophets to grow our own gardens, and what a blessing it has been to our family in many ways. I have received a great sense of peace as I’ve heard news of trucker’s strikes, rising costs of tomatoes, or any other economic news that could be devastating to the unprepared. Not that we are totally prepared, but we’re learning, and we have peace because we know how to do it. Go Green!

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