This past summer (yes, it has taken a while to get to this post...) I spent a fabulous couple of days pickling with my friend Sherrie.
In truth, it was supposed to be a one day project, but circumstances and our exuberance made it into two. I rarely get to spend a whole day with Sherrie, and since we are both experienced canners, 45 pounds of carrots and 75 of cucumbers seemed like a manageable task.
I went over to Sherrie's after work to prep the cucumbers since they would have to be salted overnight to wick away the excess moisture. We were making bread and butter pickles, lemongrass ginger pickles, and dills, so we sorted out the smaller ones for dills and then sliced the others into wedges. We also prepped the dills by placing them, a sprig of dill, a clove of garlic and a chile pepper into a jar and covering them with a dish towel.
The next morning we rinsed the wedges and started making brines. For some reason my calculations were way off and we needed to make a few trips to the store for supplies - a good lesson (that I seem to relearn with at least one project a year!) to plan for your pickling session ahead of time.
Check and recheck your calculations. Nothing is more irritating than having to stop midway through a project for a run to the store. Also, there are stores where you can buy things in bulk which helps cut costs IF you plan accordingly ahead of time...Anyway, back to the brines. One of the great things about canning with Sherrie is she has a double camp stove setup outside, so the amount of stove space is effectively doubled. This meant that we could make brines on one stove and process pickles on another. Brilliant!
The second day also involved peeling 45 pounds of carrots and cutting them into sticks. In all reality this proved a bit much in addition to creating three varieties of brine and processing cucumbers, and really should have been a separate project for another day of canning. But, since we were in the midst of it we soldiered on. Sherrie's daughter Ila even lent a hand for a bit.
One thing that made the peeling go faster was having an ergonomic peeler that was actually sharp! If you are still working the cheapy metal one from the grocery store go out and get yourself one that actually works! You will thank me, I promise!
Now, months later I am getting calls from friends and loved ones who have already cracked open and are enjoying their holiday gifts! And, as the year comes to a close, I am starting to think about next year's canning adventures.