ADVENTURES IN CANNING

Nikki's Boots & Garden BeetOver the long weekend, my good pal Nikki Stalker was pickling beets. In hopes of  capturing a recipe and some colourful  footage, I crashed her pickling party to creep on the whole process. If you are interested in small batch canning, or preserving in general, then hold on to your pickles!

Introducing  Mrs Nikki Stalker...

Being a rookie gardener, I decided to prove the existence of my harvest by preserving it. Many gardening decisions I made last spring were based on whims, not experience, so not everything I tried worked out. For example, basil doesn’t like to be shaded by wildly growing zucchini plants. But the Chiogga beets, which I selected based solely on their prettiness, turned out to be a fine choice. These glowing gems begged to be preserved (in jars and pictures).

Sliced BeetsHaving never canned before, but being a former professional cook, I did the obvious: I called my mother for help! She gave me two things: a recipe and some advice. This recipe lends a sweet and fall-spice warmth that makes these beets perfect with poultry and elevates them above the typical “pickle” flavor. View the recipe here.

Next came my mother’s sound advice, in two parts:

1. “Google it.”

2. “Nobody loves botulism.”

And she’s right. I’m a huge fan of playing in the kitchen, but some things need to be done, step-by-step, by the book. This is one of them. Do take the time to find a reputable website that explains the process for sterilizing your jars, water-bath canning, and understanding how your locale’s altitude affects processing times.

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DSC_0131On the Day of Canning – a warm, late summer Sunday – Jillian’s arrival was announced by the popping of the wine bottle cork. After fortifying ourselves sufficiently, we each began our tasks with me at the stove and Jill at the camera. Between the boiling, the peeling, the packing and cooking, we wandered around the garden, goofed around with our pups and decided that summers in Edmonton feel like a mad dash back to our long, stubborn winters.

BeetSideBySideBut this winter while we’re hibernating (a little known fact about Edmontonians), Jillian and I will hunker down with another bottle of wine, snack on cold turkey with fragrant sweet-spicy beets and dream about warm dirt under our fingernails and next summer’s adventures in canning. Thank you Jillian for being my first pickling accomplice!

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