Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Lesson Learned

Actually, it was several lessons learned.

Yesterday, I channeled my ancestors and gave canning a try.
Last summer, Lee brought home the most amazing sweet/hot pickled summer squash from a preaching gig in a neighboring town. They were having a fundraiser and he buckled. I was so glad he did.
(Lesson #1: Learn how to make this amazing stuff)

In November, I began volunteering at a CSA, Johnson's Backyard Farm. My 'pay' for volunteering is a box of the veggies they are selling to members. I often had too many veggies to eat in one week. My brain fast forwarded to summer--"Everybody always has too much summer squash, I'll bet the farm will too."
I was right!
Summer arrived and I began hoarding the squash that was in my box. Onions and peppers too. I even started bumming squash off other volunteers. "Are you tired of squash yet? I'll take it off your hands. I'll trade you my tomatoes for your squash." They granted me my wish.
(Lesson #2: Strike while the iron is hot, aka, prey on people's over abundance of summer squash.)

I finally had enough veggies to make it happen! I gathered the proper supplies and now all I needed was the recipe. My emails to the gentleman who had the recipe went unanswered. My squash stash was starting to wither a bit. I was getting desperate! Since I know him personally, I don't think it has been on purpose. Maybe I had the wrong address? I hit the internet and finally located a recipe that I thought might be pretty close to his recipe.
(Lesson #3: If at first you don't succeed, try the internet.)

Yesterday was the big day. I set about washing and sterilizing the jars, all the while trying not to get a 3rd degree burn. Success.
I chopped and chopped and chopped veggies. I soaked veggies in salt water for an hour. I boiled vinegar and sugar. I gently tended to veggies as they swam around in said vinegar/sugar mix. I put veggies and the juices in jars. I wiped jar tops before adding lids. I added the filled treasure chests back into the hot water and they enjoyed a 10 minute stint in their own personal hot tub.
I gently removed them, again avoiding severe burns.
(Lesson #4: Use gloves when seeding/chopping jalapenos.)

(Lesson #5: Buying the extra toys used in canning is a must. The jar funnel was invaluable. So was the lid magnet.)

As I waited to check to see if the lids had sealed, I looked at the clock. I had spent nearly 4 hours of my time and got a puny, 3 jars of pickles. Three beautiful jars, but puny nonetheless.
(Lesson #6: Other canners have long said, "It's such a huge task, make sure to make it worth your while. Settle in for a half day at least, and can as much as possible.")

True, so true.

And my final lesson (number 7 if you're keeping track)---waiting 6 weeks to eat the yumminess that swims in those jars is going to be a long 6 weeks, indeed.

Maybe I'll have you over for dinner in 6 weeks and you can put some of the heavenly squashy-pickley-sweet-hot yumminess on a burger, but don't even think about asking for a jar. Well, unless I begin hoarding squash again. It's a pretty safe bet that I will.
Do you have some squash you want to get off your hands?


  1. Nope, so far I haven't gotten enough for what I want to do. It always amazes me how much canning takes.

  2. hehe! Clever, humorous..and educational post, CeeCee. I wish I was able to visit. I just know those pickled canned Summer Squash are going to make the yummiest relish. Please post an update when you enjoy them ok?

    I remember Canning Days when I was a little girl. My grandma and mom would get together and can all day...in a steamy, hot kitchen where the windows were so fogged it was impossible to see outside. I'd always be sure to sneak outside and find things to keep me out of that kitchen. lol!

    Thanks for the fun post...and congrats on the final product after all your hard work.


  3. My parents made the most gosh-awful stuff when I was a little girl that it drove me out of the house.
    It was chow-chow. The combined scents of vinegar, bell peppers and cucumbers lingered in the house for days.
    Green bell peppers to this day are not among my veggie choices. I made sure to use other sweet peppers in my canning adventure.
    My only hope of making any decent amount of this stuff in the future is if I can purchase an entire box of squash off of my CSA farm, along with some sweet peppers.