Just a bit of catching up on how things went yesterday.
The short version: Long.
It went long. Very long!
For me, it was working on pickling beets using the water bath canner. Until now, we have only done refrigerator canning, and my only experience with water bath canning was helping my mother, as a child. This is the first time I’ve done it myself, from start to finish.
It took WAY longer than I expected!
I have a Ball cookbook of canning recipes. The pickled beets recipe was for a half dozen 500ml jars. They had the basic pickle recipe, but also variations. After looking over our quantities of beets, I figured I could do two batches, with one batch being a “sweet pickle” using cloves and cinnamon sticks instead of the pickling spice mix of the basic recipe.
One batch called for 10 cups of beets. I decided to use up as much of the little beets as I could. Since they would be blanched and trimmed, and their small size would pack tighter than cubed larger beets, I made sure to grab more than 10 cups. I figured, if there was extra, we could just include them with supper or something.
While the first batch was blanching, which filled the blanching pot I found stored in a barely accessible space in the kitchen, I prepped a second batch to blanch. At the same time, I cooked the liquid with the pickling spice bag, and had everything ready to do the sweet spice version.
I was all ready to can the first batch, when I realized I had a problem.
These are the first batch of fully prepared beets.
I doubt I could have filled three jars with that, never mind six!
So I added the second batch.
I still wasn’t sure there would be enough to fill the six jars I had prepped in the canner!
The next step was to put them into the pickling liquid and bring it to a boil, then start filling the jars. After my first jar, I realized I would likely have another problem. Not enough liquid! So I started the spiced version going and continued. I ended up being able to do only four jars with the basic pickling liquid, and the last two got the sweet spice version.
I started working on this before my daughters headed out to work in the garden. They came back four hours later, and I was JUST reaching the point where I actually start putting beets into jar. Most of that time was spent scrubbing beets, blanching beets, removing the outer skins, trimming the tops and tails, and waiting for water to boil.
I know “a watched pot never boils”, but my goodness, it takes a long time for large amounts of water to come to a boil!
But, if finally got done! Our first time canning AND our first time canning our own produce!
Pulling my first jar out of the water, though, was a bit of a surprise.
I mean, I know our water is hard, but wow! For the jars to come out with a layer of scale like this is crazy! You can see on the jar on the far right, where I wiped some of it with a paper towel. They’re going to need to be washed!
I finally had a chance to remove the rings and check the seals, just a little while ago, and they all came out fine! I made sure to keep track of which ones had the different pickling liquid, for when the scale gets washed off and they can be labelled.
Except the jars we open to taste test! 😀
By the time I was done, it was full dark, so it wasn’t until this morning that I could get a photo of the girls’ hard work outside.
They got three of the four remaining beds in the main garden area done – and most of that time was spent on just one of them! The first two weren’t too bad, but the third one was filled with crab grass, and it took them ages to get as many of the rhizomes out as they could!
I am amused by all the cat footprints in the loose soil! 😀
I’m glad they were able to get these done. Today turned out to be a write-off for outside work, but I will cover that in my next post. 🙂