Things To Pickle This Summer

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It’s time to think beyond the cucumber when it comes to canning and preserving our Twin Cities garden bounties.

If you grew up in the Midwest like I did, especially if it was in a smaller town, chances are your mom or grandma canned tomatoes, green beans, corn, potatoes, and even meat.

You may also have had the pleasure of homemade pickled cucumbers with lots of dill, garlic, and maybe even a jalapeño. If your mouth is already watering, then read on …

If you didn’t grow up with homemade or home-canned goods, don’t worry!

My own dad started canning in his retirement and now supplies me and my brother with canned tomatoes for making goulash, spaghetti, and soups.

Preserving Food is in our Twin Cities DNA

In case you haven’t heard this adorable jingle, Gedney IS the Minnesota pickle, but pickling doesn’t have to be confined to the cucumber.

If you have a backyard garden or a nearby farmers market, and enjoy the puckery goodness of a fresh pickle, this post is for you.

With each bite (and minimal effort), you can bring back some of the warmth and color of summer through the unbeatable combination of salt, vinegar, herbs, spices, and time.

Pickling Possibilities

My eyes (and pickling ideas) were opened upon visiting the Olive Tree, a Lebanese deli formerly located on Central Avenue in Columbia Heights, where they offered spicy pickled cauliflower, carrots, and other root vegetables. Not only are these treasures delicious with fresh pita bread, they expanded my pickling horizons.

Years later, my husband and I found that our countertop was literally overflowing with green beans and the question was posed:

Why not preserve these treasures for the long winter ahead?

As the primary pickler, my husband canned quarts and quarts of our homegrown green beans, and we enjoyed them on their own, in homemade tartar sauce, in salads and wrapped into sandwiches.

Pickling Preparations

But before you get your brine boiling, invest in some simple supplies that will make your pickling adventures easier and less messy, including:

  • Wide-mouth glass jars (much easier to pack any kind of vegetable)
  • New canning lids & rings (rings are reusable for next year)
  • Canning Funnel (to make pouring or ladling HOT brine into jars a snap)
  • Large stock pot (for boiling your brine)
  • Large ladle (for filling jars of your favorite delicacy with brine)
  • Disposable gloves (for keeping your hands clean)

Once your kitchen is stocked up, it’s time to channel your canning creativity — something that I’ve realized comes from need — usually a glut of vegetables that you can’t possible give away or eat at the peak of freshness. Or, think beyond the garden and start looking around your neighborhood or backyard.

Here are some ideas to get your started, but let the piles of vegetables be your guide.

Read this next: Spring gardening tips: When you can finally start planting

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Sarah Steil is a Minnesotan by way of Denver, CO and hails from the metropolis of Algona, IA (once home to the world’s largest Cheeto). Sarah puts her visual and communication nose to the design and brand grindstone each day as founder of a local brand and design agency.