Fall is a delicious time of the year. Gardens and fruit trees are being harvested, kitchens are abuzz with activity making back to school snacks or freezer meals. Growing up, our house was always filled with preserves and jellies and wonderful smells in the kitchen.
I’ve wanted to try my hand at canning for a while but was scared to invest a lot of time just to have it fail. But this year I gave it a go. I started with crab apple jelly and bread and butter pickles. I only made a couple jars of jelly because it was taking a while to cut the tiny apples and as my first venture into canning, it was a messy and educating experience! The jelly turned out yummy and takes me back to my youthful days of warm homemade bread, butter and apple jelly. By the time I tried my hand at the bread and butter pickles, I had a better handle on the canning terminology and equipment.
Before you start, make sure you have all the necessities for preparing the jars. I only had 250ml size canning jars, but larger ones would be ideal. You will also need a large pot for sterilizing and tongs. I sterilized my jars while the mixture was sitting and covered them with a clean dishcloth till I needed them. The lids and rubber jar bands can be heated in a smaller bot of water. Take them off before it reaches a boil. If you are looking to make more, double or triple the recipe. I only had a few jars available and didn’t want to go overboard in case it didn’t work out. But they turned out really well!
Ingredients: Yields 7 – 250 ml jars
5 -6 long cucumbers (I had English cucumbers on hand but others will work), thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp of minced garlic
3 tbsp salt
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tbsp mustard seed
1/3 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp whole cloves
3/4 tsp ground tumeric
- In a large bowl, stir together the cucumbers, onion, pepper, garlic and salt. Let sit for 3 hours.
- In a large pot, mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, cloves and turmeric. Bring to a boil.
- Drain the liquid from the cucumber mixture (salt draws the water out). Stir the mixture into the boiling vinegar mixture. Remove from the stove just before the combined mixture comes to a boil.
- Transfer to sterile jars – a ladle and funnel work well. Seal and refrigerate until serving.
Let them sit for a day or so and their colors will brighten. Then dig in for a sweet and savory crunch!
What are your favorite preserves this time of year?