continued reportage from the goodness that was our Michigan vacation . . .
Rural Michigan is very wholesome. Beautiful, tranquil, all that, but so wholesome that city people like myself feel a little strange sometimes. When you are there, you feel obliged to do wholesome activities like say hello to strangers, dig in the dirt, skip in fields, and preserve things. In all honesty, canning things is something I've been interested in for a while. Last summer, in a rush of planning and optimistic organization, I even got some canning equipment (or was it 2 summers ago?) but haven't done anything with it. S and K, however, having a surplus of beans on their hands and access to expert canners, arranged a tutorial session for the 4 of us when we got to Michigan.
I've always been a wee bit scared to can things myself due to a fear of killing everyone with botulism or a new post-modern bacteria only I could breed in my tomato sauce. Once I met Mary Lou, our canning "teacher", I had a feeling no one would die from whatever we made. She cans everything from pickles to peaches and has the garden to prove it. This woman has a beehive in her kitchen, I kid you not. (more about that later)
clean and ready to go
Mary Lou showed us how to sterilize the jars (to prevent the evil bacteria), trim the beans, pack them properly, (which P and K did not want to do properly. which resulted in She taught S and I the important step of running a wet finger over the top and sides of the jar (wherever the lid will touch) to ensure there is nothing on the jar there and no imperfections in the glass, which could jeopardize a good seal.
getting packed and ready to go.
notice erratically, improperly packed jar on top, handiwork of P and K. . .
Pickling turned out to be quite easy, however, I don't like pickled things! P will eat our dilly beans this year, but I have newfound confidence to preserve some things on my own. If only I could have packed up Mary Lou's garden to transplant to Philadelphia, I'd be all set.
from the Ball Book of Preserving
2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic
4 heads dill weed
1/4 cup canning (pickling) salt
2 1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cup white vinegar
Pack beans, lengthwise, into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. For each pint, add 1/4 tsp. cayenne, 1 clove garlic, and 1 head dill.
Combine remaining ingredients and bring to boiling. Pour boiling hot over beans, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust caps. Process pints and quarts 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
Yields about 4 pints or 2 quarts.