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The Mushy-Pickle Massacre (My canning fail)


I've had this awesome book for awhile called "Preserving" By Oded Schwartz. It has these gorgeous illustrations of canning recipes; such as jams, pickled veggies, chutneys, and other delightful things. My Grandma used to be a canning machine. I remembered her big black and white speckled canning pot, in which she would process endless jars of jam, stewed tomatoes, and pickled beets.

Spring when we got a bountiful harvest of lemon yellow heirloom cucumbers, I decided it was time for me to try canning. I read and re-read the canning pages, and the recipe for olive oil dill pickles. I painstakingly sliced and brined our cukes with pickling salt. (In my opinion this made them way too salty, but the book said this was important to the picking process, so I crossed my fingers.)

I also consulted my Mom, whose knowledge of canning was only greater than mine in that she remembered my Gramma's process more vividly. She explained how the jar lids would make an audible "pop" when they were sealed, and stressed the importance of hearing this noise so I knew they were done properly. So I mixed and boiled my pickling spices per the recipe. I added the right amount of apple cider vinegar, and poured the hot mixture over the cucumbers. Then I put the jars in the boiling water up to their lids, and waited for the pop.

After 5 minutes, nothing. Another 10. Nope. The liquid inside the jars was boiling now. That didn't seem right. But still no pop. Finally, I pulled out the jars and covered them with towels, just like Gramma used to. But the jars remained silent. Finally, I gave up and went to bed.

When I called my mom the next day, she revealed the problem: The jars don't pop IN the water, she explained. They pop once you REMOVE them from the water! OOOOOOOOOOH....Damn. Upon investigation of my now refrigerated and questionable masterpieces, The contents of the jars did indeed taste like delicious dill pickle...er...CHUTNEY. Though they would never be pickles, I used them to flavor a few yummy sauces before we gave the rest to the compost worms. However, first failure aside, I am happy to report that when I opened those jars, they most definitely DID POP!

Though my first canning attempt was a flop, I'm looking forward to trying again. Maybe not pickles. This time I'm gonna try for something that's SUPPOSED to be mushy. Like stewed tomatoes!

Until then, are there any seasoned canners out there with advice for me on putting up the perfect pickle? I'd be awfully grateful....


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