How does your garden grow? Are you struggling with baskets of green beans and bushels of cucumbers? You could give the excess away and that is a great idea. Or you could preserve the produce so your family can enjoy your garden long after the first frost of winter.
Yes, You Can! ! Everyone is doing it from Paula Deen to Alton Brown---canning is trendy. Eat local; reduce your carbon footprint is the battle cry from the home canning sector—and they are right.
Food is better when you grow it yourself or know who did. But, before you dust off Grandma's canner let's talk about safety. Make sure your canner has the UL seal of approval and follow the manufacturer's directions exactly.
Never use the open kettle or oven methods of canning---these methods are not safe! Do not "make up" recipes or add extra ingredients. Only use recipes from USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation, name brand canning supply companies or Extension. Canning is a scientific process that can safely preserve the taste of summer, if you follow some basic guidelines.
Begin with wholesome, unblemished fruits and vegetables. Wash both the produce and your hands after coming in from the garden; it's best to use warm water. The deadly microbe Clostridium botulinum lives in the soil and on most fresh food surfaces—it really does not pose a threat until it is exposed to its favorite environment—the moist, low acid, no oxygen atmosphere inside a canning jar full of food. This deadly germ can be killed by using an approved canner and following research based recipes.
For more info go to: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/foodpreservation/
Or call your local Extension office to register for "hands on" workshops!
Quick Fresh-Pack Dill Pickles
8 lbs. of 3- to 5- inch pickling cucumbers
2 gals. water
1 ¼ cups canning or pickling salt (divided)
1 ½ qts. vinegar (5%)
¼ cup sugar
2 qts. water
2 Tbsp whole mixed pickling spice
About 3 Tbsp whole mustard seed (1 tsp per pint jar)
About 14 heads of fresh dill (1 ½ heads per pint jar) or 4 ½ Tbsp dill seed (1 ½ tsp per pint jar)
Yield: About 7 to 9 pints
Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16 inch slice off blossom end and discard, but leave ¼ inch of stem attached. Dissolve ¾ cup salt in 2 gallons water. Pour over cucumbers and let stand 12 hours. Drain. Combine vinegar, ½ cup salt, sugar, and 2 quarts water. Add mixed pickling spices tied in a clean white cloth. Heat to boiling. Fill hot jars with cucumbers. Add 1 tsp mustard seed and 1 ½ heads fresh dill per pint. Cover with boiling pickling solution, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process as below.
At altitude 0-1,000 feet process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.