Sunday, June 14, 2015

First Canning Experience

I hate wasting food.  And what do I hate more than wasting food?  Wasting food that I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into growing.  So with my abundance of veggie harvests right now, I decided to try my hand at a food preservation method that I have not yet tried with my garden goodies: canning.

Experienced veggie gardeners would probably tell you that canning is as essential to the gardening practice as water and sunlight since a good garden harvest is going to produce a lot more food than you can use fresh yourself or give away.  But I have not incorporated it into my gardening repertoire until this point because frankly, it intimidated me.  I always heard how long and tedious of a process it was.  I remember growing up in Wisconsin and picking oodles of strawberries every summer, which my mom would then spend a whole day processing into jam.  I just don't have that kind of time on my hands.  But, since I've had a decent harvest this summer so far and have more veggies than I can eat fresh, and since I hate wasting food, I decided to give canning a try. Turns out, it really wasn't that bad.

Sure, it wasn't the quickest process.  It probably took me a couple hours total (with clean up) for just a few jars.  But, given it was my first time, I know I took a lot of extra time reading directions and making sure I got all the steps right.  But overall, it was much easier and faster than I expected, so I'm sure I'll be doing more canning in the future.

I ended up canning three quart jars of dill pickles, using Botanical Interests' Homemade Pickles cucumbers.  I also canned two pint jars of pickled green beans (Blue Lake 274).  Now, I just need to let the jars sit in the pantry for a few weeks before I can try how they turned out.

Here is the recipe that I used for both the green beans and cucumbers.  Since I'm new to this canning business, I'd love to hear some of your favorite canned veggie recipes!

Ingredients (makes 6 half-pint jars - I doubled the recipe for my 2 pint and 3 quart jars)
  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh green beans (cucumbers)
  • 2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt (kosher or pickling)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch fresh dill weed
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1.  Sterilize jars with rings and lids and keep hot.  Trim green beans to 1/4 inch shorter than the jars.

2.  In a large saucepan, stir together the vinegar, water and salt. Add garlic and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. In each jar, place 1 sprig of dill and 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Pack green beans into the jars so they are standing on their ends

3.  Ladle the boiling brine into the jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the tops. Discard garlic. Seal jars with lids and rings. Place in a hot water bath so they are covered by 1 inch of water. Simmer but do not boil for 10 minutes to process. Cool to room temperature. Test jars for a good seal by pressing on the center of the lid. It should not move. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal properly. Let pickles ferment for 2 to 3 weeks before eating.


  1. Sounds great - and makes me a bit jealous as I've never been good enough with veggies to get cannable surplus. But I do love homemade pickles :)

  2. I've canned, in the past. It's a fun experience and you will enjoy the fruits of your labor!

  3. Nothing is more satisfying that watching the pantry fill up with goodies from your own gardens...unless it's pulling one of those jars from the shelf in the dead of winter.

  4. So satisfying to know that you've not only grown but preserved your harvest. I'm sure you'll be eager to try them out but you simply must save one jar of everything to have once summer is long past. Other folks will be picking through tired produce at the market and you'll have summertime in a jar on your shelf. It will be absolutely amazing - you'll love it!