I learned a new skill, and I pickled green beans!!
(I wrote the bulk of this last night after I finished canning, but I couldn’t publish it until today, because I needed to let some stuff sit over night to make sure it all worked before I started spouting my epic successes…..I won some and I lost some.)
I didn’t even know that dilly beans were a thing until Momma’s friend sent me a jar last fall. I’m totally hooked…..just the right amount of spicy and dilly! Apparently, they are good in red beers and bloody mary’s. I’ve never actually had a red beer, and while I do like bloody mary’s, I just eat the beans plain….straight outta the jar! I was a bit apprehensive about the whole canning process….it seemed harder than it actually ended up being. Also, there was the small issue of all the green beans at the grocery stores looking…….questionable. Momma informed me that it was past bean season, however I soldiered on, and collected some jars and other required paraphernalia from the basement at home in preparation.
Priority one was obviously trying to find beans. After striking out at several grocery stores, I had an epiphany….THE FARMER’S MARKET! I totally skipped out on morning Yoga Sculpt….ooops….in favor of hunting down several pounds of beans and dill. I was totally victorious, and I also snagged myself a beautiful bouquet of dahlias……just becase sometimes you need flowers in your house! Sadly, one of the dahlias is looking a bit wilty, hopefully he will perk up over night.
(….he has sadly not perked much….I cut off some more stem, but I might have lost a dahlia.)
8 of the jars from Momma’s house went into the dishwasher, and I started prepping the veggies. I had to do the canning in batches because only 4 jars would fit in my largest pot at once. The beans went into the colander in batches, and I snapped the ends off and cleaned them. Garlic cloves were smashed and peeled, celery and carrots cut, and Scout mooched the entire time for vegetable treats!
While the jars were being washed and the beans were being prepped, I started my huge soup pot of water warming and the brine. Mostly, the part about canning that stressed me out the most was that everything has to be hot, or the lids won’t seal. More than once I sent out a panic text about the fact that the beans were stressing me. However, I’m 98% confident that all my lids did in fact seal, and that I won’t have to consume my body weight in dilly beans in the next two weeks.
(Checked all the seals today, and they seem good. Canning success!)
I was also slightly concerned that I wasn’t packing the beans into the jars tight enough. The first jar was a bit rough, but after that I think I got a technique down fairly well. I did have to read about how to can using a water bath online….
A….because I have visions of horror whereby a pressure cooker blows up in my kitchen, and
B…..because all the recipes I found online just said “process jars”.
SOME OF US ARE DUMB NEWBIES!!! How does one go about “processing jars”!?!? Turns out you cover the jars fully plus 1 inch of water, and then start counting the time when the water returns to a gentle boil. Also, I didn’t have a rack for the bottom of my pot, so my jars required a bit of babysitting so they didn’t bump around too much and break. Don’t worry, I didn’t loose any jars!
Basically, you just keep repeating the jar filling process until you run out of stuff. After the first batch of 4, I had run out of vinegar. Helpful tip…..if you want to start pickling, just buy the biggest jug of vinegar you can find…..trust me, you’ll need it! I did go out and grab more vinegar, and I ended up with 10 jars total from the 8 pounds of beans I started with. I did have to run another batch of jars through the dishwasher, so I had sort of a long break between the second and third batch.
All in all, canning wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Plus, now that I know what I’m doing I totally understand why people would want to do this. It’s an easy way to be able to eat delicious veggies all winter long. I come from a farming and canning family, and even though I will probably never get fancy enough to do jams and jellies, I would like to get to a point eventually where I can do tomatoes, pickles, beans…..the things I eat and use often. Unfortunately, I don’t live on a farm, so the growing of all the veggies is still a bit problematic.
I might carve out some time next weekend to make more dilly beans, because I have a feeling these are going to be eaten pretty quickly! Plus, it’s nice to keep old school skills alive. If people my age don’t learn and use these skills they will eventually be lost. I understand that we live in a world were it’s easier to drive to the store and buy cans of tomatoes….but that hasn’t always been a reality. At the end of the day, it’s never a bad feeling know where your food comes from, plus there’s an extra sense of pride that comes from knowing that you did something yourself!
It was actually a whole week of random home activities around here. Monday I skipped out on work to finish up some of the furniture that sat in my garage all winter. I had a set of dining room chairs I never got around to finishing, mostly because I bought other chairs to go with the table. Monday was the day!! The chairs were already painted, they just needed to be distressed and waxed. Now, instead of chairs in the garage serving no purpose, I have chairs sprinkled randomly around the house.
I also suffered a bit of a landscaping crisis this week. We’ve been having really strong winds all week, and one of my little trees is having some issues being a tree. I had originally thought that the fees I pay the HOA every month went towards things like spraying weeds and making sure my trees grow in an upright direction, however I have slowly started to learn that that isn’t the case. I haven’t quite gotten around the spraying the weeds and crab grass yet, but I did get the tree back on the up and up. Fun fact, I ran into the Vinyl Enthusiast at Menards the other day and he had to help me find tree fixing accouterments. Sometimes, it’s all about who you know!
(The wind picked up again last night, and pulled the stake out of the ground. So, I’m once again back to having a tree that refuses to act like a tree. At this point, it might just be easier to rip it out and plant something new. Can’t win everything I guess!)