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by Elizabeth Crist Darby, BRFM Volunteer Coordinator

Lately, I’ve seen a ton of articles about canning. I’m really torn on this subject. On the one hand, I love the idea of stocking my basement with beautiful jars of tomatoes, jams, apple butter, etc. But the truth is, while not technically difficult, canning is not for the faint of heart. First you have to buy the equipment — a sizable investment. Then you have to dedicate the better part of a day to hang out in your kitchen-turned-steam room to prep and process your treats. So while I can (no pun intended) do it, canning is not really at the top of my overflowing to-do list.  

Luckily, canning is just one option for preserving the flavors of summer. I’m happy to share a few of my favorite short-cut preserve recipes that will give you a hearty stash of goodies and leave you with plenty of time to enjoy the last few days of the season.

My Garden Pickles 

This recipe is the result of combining my Great Aunt Phyll’s pickle recipe, Martha Stewart’s Quick Pickled Okra, and a few creative substitutions on an afternoon when I needed to both use up some garden treasures, and also create something different to take along to a cookout.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                         

  • 1 pound assorted garden veggies: (such as okra, cut in half lengthwise; green beans whole; pickling cucumbers sliced into coins; carrots cut into coins; cauliflower florets)
  • 6 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 3 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (rice wine or apple cider)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole pepper corns
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium white or yellow onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2-5 fresh jalapenos, halved lengthwise, stemmed, and seeded

Directions:

  1. Rinse vegetables in a colander. Add 3 tablespoons salt, and toss to combine. Let okra drain in sink 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath.
  2. Put remaining 3 tablespoons salt, 2 cups water, the vinegars, bay leaves, and peppers into a nonreactive medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Rinse okra under cold running water to remove salt. Transfer to a large nonreactive bowl; add onions and jalapenos. Pour brine over vegetables Set bowl in ice-water bath; let cool 10 minutes. Transfer bowl to refrigerator to cool completely, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately or store in covered containers for up to 3 months.

I prefer storing pickles in glass jars sold at Penzeys Spices. You can use plastic containers, but they will forever retain the smell of pickles. Now, here are more ideas for preserving your Market treasures:

Skillet Peach Jam

Author’s Note: I make a double batch and freeze (once cooled) in zip-bags.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Author’s Note: I like to make this on Saturday evening and let it cook all night.  The house smells wonderful and it makes the best pancake topping ever!