It’s Pickling Time



It’s pickling time of year! I just want to remind you of a few things to get the best pickle. 

One, is the type of cucumber you are using to make pickles. You need a pickling cucumber. The best ones are from the black spine type, with small black prickles, such as the Chicago Pickling Cucumber and National Pickle.

Wash all ingredients carefully to remove bacteria, which might spoil your product. In washing cucumbers, DON’T scrub so that you remove the black prickles. A good way to get off the dirt and bacteria is to soak them for a few minutes in a glass or plastic container with a tablespoon of pickling salt and one tablespoon of vinegar. Rinse well in running water as you gently rub them.                                The pot you will be using to make the brine should never be brass, copper, iron or aluminum. Any of these will produce a strange taste and undesirable color changes because the metals will react with the vinegar and salt solutions. Use enameled ware, glass, or stainless steel. Stir with wood spoon and or stainless steel ladle.  

Whenever possible, use water without chlorine. Here is how you can use your water to eliminate chlorine and other minerals. Plan in advance and boil the water for 15 minutes. Let stand for 24 hours. When all the sediment has settled to the bottom, ladle the water from the top. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 5 % acidity to each gallon of water before using. Or buy bottled distilled water and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to each gallon. You will never regret all this effort. 

Do not use table salt in pickling or canning. Table salt has iodine and anti-caking agent. That will turn pickles an undesirable color and soften the pickle. Use Pickling salt for best results. 

Vinegar should be 5 % acidity. Check the label for percentage of acid and also check the expiration date. If it is past the expiration date, use it to make salad dressing not pickles. Vinegars of unknown strength should not be used. Either cider or white vinegars may be used. When pickling light-colored foods such as onions, white vinegars is preferable for it will not darken the ingredients. When making a simple solution of vinegar, pickling salt, and water, do not boil more than 5 to 6 minutes unless otherwise directed in the recipes. Long boiling weakens vinegar. Follow the timings suggested in the recipes: if a recipe says bring just to boil, do that. 

Always use fresh spices and herbs. Old ones will discolor the product and produce musty, strange flavors. If a recipe calls for you to put spices in a spice bag ( cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine) make sure it is not too tight so the brine can flow through during the cooking time. Remove bag before canning. If you have access to fresh grape leaves, wash them and place on top of produce in the jar. This will keep the produce under the brine and help with keeping the produce crisp. Any recipe can be changed to fit individual taste in SPICES Only. Do not change the amount of vinegar, water or salt. Blended pickling spices are available commercially, I like to blend my own. Here are a list of spices I like using: Allspice, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper Corns, Cardamom, Cayenne, Chili, Cinnamon Stick, Coriander Seeds, Clove, Dill Seeds, Ginger, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg ( grated), Hot Red Pepper flakes, Turmeric, and Celery Seeds. 

Garlic is a wonderful addition to pickles. But one warning; If you wish to add garlic to a jar of dill pickles or any pickles, you will need to peel the cloves then plunge them into boiling water first for 1 minute. This blanching process kills the bacteria on garlic, which can cause spoilage. Or you can place the cloves in vinegar for about 1 to 2 minutes before filling the jars. 

I hope this helps you get the best pickle for you and your family. 

See you in class


The Vocabulary Of Canning


I have been canning for so long that I take for granted the fact that I am fluent in the language of canning but that others may not be so familiar with these special words.
One of my students said something the other day that really opened my eyes. She told me that she bought the new Ball book and I was so happy to hear this! Her new book, however, came with a new problem and it truly made me think. The process of canning and all the unique vocabulary are very new to her. I wondered what she might think certain meant, for example: water bath canner, process time, headspace, rings, lids, nonreactive pot, sterilized, cure, brine, curd, funnel and pectin – just to name a few. If you have ever struggled to learn the vocabulary of canning, you are not alone. I, too, needed to learn a lot when I started canning. It confirmed for me that the All In A Jar canning school is much-needed. I’m happy to share what I know and I’m willing to research anything for students if I don’t have an immediate answer. Canning is surely a lost art and I want everyone to rediscover and embrace it. Happy Canning!

See you in class
Canning Vocabulary

Not sure what some words mean? Here is a list to help you remember.

Chutney and Sauce…. Both of these categories are a combinations of vegetables and/ or fruits, spices and vinegar cooked for long periods to develop flavor and texture. Chutneys are highly spiced and have a sweet-sour blending of flavors. Sauces range from mild to hot.
Relish ….. A condiment eaten with plain food to add flavor.

Jardinière ….. A garnish of mixed vegetables.

Pickled ….. Preserving in vinegar or brine.

Brine ….. To soak in salty water.

Butter ….. A paste of spiced stewed fruit used as a spread.

Mincemeat ….. A mixture of currants, raisins, sugar, apples, candied citrus peels, spices, and suet, typically baked in pies.

Suet ….. (Like lard) Hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals, used to make foods like puddings, pastry and mincemeat. ( I will never use suet)

Conserve ….. A sweet food made by preserving fruit with sugar; jam.

Chutney ….. A spicy condiment made of fruit or vegetables with vinegar, spices and sugar. Originating in India.

Marmalade ….. A preserve made from citrus fruit, esp. bitter oranges, prepared like jam.

Blanch ….. To loosen the skin of nuts, fruits and vegetables by dropping in boiling water. Then into ice water.

Boil ….. Water or food heated to 212F at sea level. When referring to the boiling-water canner, it means a rolling boil for the entire processing time.

Boiling-Water Canner ….. A kettle-pot larger enough to completely immerse and fully surround canning jars and have two inches above the top of the jar. Used to process high-acid food.

Lids & Rings ….. Two piece vacuum closure for sealing jars. The set consists of a metal band and a flat lid. The lid has a flanged edge and sealing compound.

Headspace ….. An area left unfilled between the top of the food and the rim of the jar.

High-Acid food ….. Foods which normally contain enough natural acid to result in a PH of 4.6 or less and foods which may contain very little natural acid but have a sufficient amount of vinegar or lemon juice added to them to be treated as high-acid foods. High-acid foods may be safely processed in a boiling-water canner at 212F

Hot Pack ….. Filling jars with precooked, hot food prior for processing.
Preferred method when using firm food. This method permits a tighter pack, reduces floating and requires fewer jars.

Low-Acid food ….. Foods which contain little natural acid and have a PH greater than 4.6. Bacteria thrive in low-acid foods. They can only be destroyed by heating to 240F (at or below 1,000 feet above sea level) for a specified time in a steam – pressure canner.

Pectin ….. A complex colloidal substance found in ripe fruit, such as apples and citrus fruit. Pectin is available commercially in powdered and liquid form. Pectin, in the correct balance with sugar and acid, assists in forming the gel structure in jellies and soft spreads.

Pressure canner ….. A heavy kettle with a lid which can be locked in place to make a steam-tight fit. The lid is fitted with a safety valve, a vent and a pressure gauge. Used for processing low-acid foods. Steam created under 10 pounds pressure at or below sea level reaches 240F which is hot enough to destroy harmful bacteria.

Processing ….. Sterilizing jars and the food they contain in a pressure or boiling-water canner to destroy harmful molds, yeasts, bacteria and enzymes.

Raw Pack ….. Filling jars with raw food , unheated food prior to processing.

Simmer ….. To cook food gently just below the boiling point (between 180F and 200F) Bubbles will rise gently from the bottom of the pot and slightly disturb the surface of the food.

Syrup ….. A mixture of water (or juice) and sugar used to add liquid to canned or frozen food.

Vacuum Seal ….. When the jar is heated, the air and food inside expand, forcing air out and decreasing the inside pressure. As the jar cools and the contents shrink, a partial vacuum forms.
Jar Funnel….. A plastic jar funnel having a wide opening that fits regular and wide mouth canning jars makes filling jars easy and quick.

Jar Lifter….. Hot jars can be safely removed from the canner with large sure-grip tongs.


Making pickles is a lot of fun and quite easy. The hardest part is waiting just the right amount of time for them to pickle before you eat them. When pickling you need about a teaspoon of different spices for each jar. I like to line up little bowls and place the spices for each jar in the bowls. Then I place the produce (whatever I am pickling) in each jar, then the spices before I finally pour the hot brine in the jar. This kind of cooking organization makes things go fast. Choose good quality ingredients that are uniform in size, fresh and free of blemishes.
“Misfits” can be used for relishes. Fruit may be use for pickling too. Using fruit that is not quite ripe is best.

The ordinary cucumbers at stores are called “slicers” and are for table use, not for pickling. At some places you can find pickling cucumbers. The best ones have small black prickles on them. Chicago Pickling or National Pickling cucumbers are some common names for the type of cucumber that is best for pickling.

Remember to wash all ingredients carefully to remove bacteria which might spoil your product. When washing cucumbers, don’t scrub them so hard that you remove the black prickles. A good way to get the dirt and bacteria off is to place the cucumbers in a clean big bowl with tablespoon of pickling salt and one tablespoon of white vinegar for a few minutes. Then, rinse them well under running water as you gently rub them.

Never use brass, copper or aluminum pots, pans or utensils for pickling. Any of these materials will give your pickles a strange taste and an undesirable color because the metals will react with vinegar and salt solutions. Use enameled, glass or stainless steel cookware. Stir with a wooden spoon and use a stainless steel slotted spoon. Do not use table salt when pickling. The iodine in the table salt will darken the brine and soften the pickles. Use a good pickling salt. The vinegar should be no LESS than 5 % acidity; it will say right on the label. Vinegar of unknown strength should not be used.

When making a simple solution of vinegar, salt and water, do not boil for more than 5 to 6 minutes unless otherwise directed in the recipe. A long boil weakens the strength of the vinegar. Always use fresh spices and herbs. Old ones will discolor the product and produce and also give them musty, strange flavors. Have fun pickling!

See you in class