Writing is blissful! Editing, not so much. So today I’ll talk about canning.
I love to can, specifically to pickle. I’ve pickled nearly everything, and long before Portlandia came out with their satire, "We Can Pickle That". (Is it coincidence that I happen to live in Portland Oregon?) From bananas to kumquats, daikon to habanero peppers, and of course from Apples to Zucchini, I’ve given it a try. Not everything comes out, but most of the time I end up with something one wouldn’t find at one’s local grocery store.
I began pickling when I was a hippie on a Canadian communal farm back in ’72. My first attempt was a recipe called Fir Tip Marmalade. I decided on that recipe because fir tips, that soft bright-green new growth of the Douglas fir tree, were plentiful in the Vancouver Island bush. I doubled the recipe, didn’t use pectin because I had no money with which to buy any, and canned it in quarts. The good news was they all sealed; the funky news was that I ended up with 21 quarts of pungent syrup. If anyone has drunk the Greek wine, Retsina, a wine infused with the flavor of pine resin, you can guess at the flavor.
I got better. I learned to follow recipes. I adjusted the size of jar for the type of condiment. I practiced. I did it a each autumn. I wrote down everything: every change, every modification, every quirk. That is my Big Book, and I use it to this day.
This winter, when I open the crunchy habanero dills, when I spoon the plum sauce on our pork roast, when I drink dark plum juice mixed with sparkling soda, I can sit back once again and be proud of these summertime creations.
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Happy reading! (and canning!)