Canning with Kids
My postings in honor of – and support of – Food Revolution Day on May 16 continue. This is the third part in a series on Canning with Kids. Please see the prior two blogs for the introduction to this part.
When I was considering this blog series, one of my responses came from Marisa McClellan – that expert food preserver and blogger from FoodinJars.com. Marisa has a great background in canning, having started way back as a kid in California and Portland. She has never stopped and has this idea to offer:
From Marisa: ”Whenever I can with kids, I like to start with a batch of pickles. There’s so much hands on work there that can be done and so they really get to play around. I talk about how different shapes of cut can make your pickles more or less crunchy. And how when you make your own, you can truly customize the flavor so that it tastes exactly how you’d like it to. Kids who would have said that they hated pickles suddenly find that they adore them when they make them on their own.”
When I was putting this series together, I immediately thought of Apple Butter and Strawberry Jam which I wrote about the past two days. Fruits always come to mind when considering food likes for kids. But, of course, pickles are a natural too and I appreciate Marisa reminding me of this. In fact, my grandson, Cullen has like puckery, even sour things since he was a babe – think lemons and pickles – which continues to this day!
And I agree with Marisa that the hands-on work leaves open a lot of creativity! So does the possibility of various flavors. Below I offer a favorite of my family and many others: Bread & Butter Pickles. So take your pick, or try all three: Apple Butter, Strawberry Jam and Bread & Butter Pickles
- Cucumbers: They should be fresh and firm; neither too under or overripe. A good one is dark green, has lots of “warts” and no yellow skin. Overripe will have large developed seeds and will become mushy upon pickling.
- Vinegar: Use either white or cider vinegar of 5% acetic acid concentration; cider vinegar will darken pickles and imparts a slightly milder taste. Never substitute homemade or other vinegars as acidic concentration is unknown. Never reduce vinegar in recipe; add sugar if too tart.
- Salt: Must be pickling variety or kosher salt as it does not contain iodine or other minerals. Pickling is also a non-flaking, non-caking variety.
- Wash cucumbers (and all produce) carefully and thoroughly. Cut and discard stem end.
Makes about 5 pints
4 lbs. of Cucumbers-organic preferred. Cut into slices, spears, halves or chunks
2 medium or 2 large Onions, thinly sliced (optional)
2 cloves Garlic, minced (optional)
¼ cup Pickling Salt
3 cups distilled White Vinegar or Cider vinegar
2 cups Cane sugar or organic raw sugar
Pickling Spice, to taste (start with 3 T. and add as desired)
Wash cucumbers, remove stem and blossom ends. Cut into slices, spears, halves or chunks with knife or food processor. Peel and slice onions. Place sliced vegetables in stainless steel or crockery bowl, combine with the pickling salt and let stand for at least 1 hour or more. Drain well but do not rinse.
Meanwhile, combine vinegar, sugar and spices and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the cucumber and onion slices; reduce heat to medium and bring back to boil. Immediately pack in clean 1-pint jars and add lids and bands. Refrigerate immediately. Pickles are best if left to marinate for 2 weeks or more, if they last that long! And will last for months in the refrigerator. If water bath canning is desired, see instructions on other recipes on this website.
A Kid-friendly Alternative: How about Dilly Carrots? I’ve used the tiny carrots for pickling with dill. Most kids like carrots, they stay crunch, and the dill (if used lightly) is a pleasant change from other spices. And the carrot midgets come all ready peeled, cut to size, and ready to can. The recipe can be found on this site at http://preservingnow.com/another-root-vegetable.
And if you find your kids love the pickles idea, you can find recipes for any number of veggies to pickle such as green beans, okra, cauliflower and broccoli - what a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!