The first lessons learned were the basics of water bathing to can jam and pickles. Today was the first harvest of green beans made into spicy and regular dill beans.
Start with sterilized pint bottles, add a garlic clove, dill (fronds or seed heads or both) and if you want them spicy add a 1/2 – 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne powder to each bottle. Pack the green beans, cut to the height of the bottle, and top with brine. A simple 4 1/2 cups white vinegar, 4 1/2 cups water and 9 tablespoons kosher salt brought to a boil. Cap and water bath for 10 minutes.
Then came the vacuum sealer for berries, meat and blanched vegetables.
Blanching is the way to go for our green and yellow beans. Do not freeze your harvest without blanching, it does not work. You will end up with tough, inedible veg, no fun at all.
Each vegetable you freeze has a different blanch and cool time needed to preserve it correctly. We use this site as a guide to most blanching/canning advice http://www.pickyourown.org/ .
The yellow and green beans were ready so got a 3 minute blanch and cool. We use a pasta insert in the boiling pot and a colander in the ice bath sink . This way we don’t have to sift beans out of water or ice.Then dried and vacuum sealed in one cup portions, perfect for a side dish for two.
On to the mother of all preserving equipment…the pressure canner.
We have gotten much more comfortable with the “bomb” cooking concept. Even temperature and a close eye ease our nerves. The first batch of snap peas were needing to be handled before they got tough and square in their pods. At this moment they are still sweet and tender, otherwise known as perfect.
We have been snacking on the pods in the garden every time we go near them. If we didn’t do something soon they would be gone and greatly missed in the dark days of winter when they cheer us so.
Again, it’s sterilized 1/2 pint bottles cold packed with clean peas. Pour boiling water to fill, leaving a one inch head space, cap snugly. Heat about 2 inches of water in the pot of the pressure canner (without lid). Once at a boil add the bottles and secure the canner lid. Let steam escape for 10 minutes before adding the weighted pressure toggle. Bring up to 10lbs pressure, 20 minutes later and you have pressure canned peas (1 pint=30 minutes and a quart is 40 minutes). We are lucky to be at sea level so have no need to adjust the time or pressure. Double check your altitude requirements.
Note to self: Do not use those beautiful old diamond cut jars in the pressure canner. They have been rubbed and bumped enough in their lifetime to no longer be strong enough to withstand the pressure…and then you waste little innocent peas who did you no wrong. It was very sad indeed.
So that’s the quick and dirty version of what we do on a super hot day (37+ with the humidity) to supply ourselves with tastes of summer in winter.
You have to love it to do it, otherwise you’re just crazy. We’re not crazy…yet.