A couple of weekends ago, I had my first experience making pickles; it was a total success! We had quite a few cucumbers on hand from our CSA. First, I have to say that getting involved with community supported agriculture (CSA) is one of the best things Chris and I have done regarding trying to establish ongoing healthy eating habits (french fry-eating binges not withstanding . . . it happens). Most nights we enjoy farm-to-table dinners, which has completely altered our relationship with food, the weather, and our community. If you don’t have the space, time, or energy to devote to your own garden, I encourage you to look into finding a CSA in your area.

Okay, getting off the soapbox now, and back to pickles! In the August issue of Bon Appetit, there was an article about canning, complete with some delish looking recipes, like the one I used here for Bread and Butter Pickles.

While we don’t generally love sweet pickles, these particular ones promised to be both sweet, sour, and spicy, but not too sweet. I figured, well, we’d only have three quarts, so if we didn’t really care for them, we could easily give away three quarts and never use the recipe again.

You start by chopping up a ton of cucumbers and onions and covering the whole thing with salt and ice. Then you walk away for two hours.

Then it’s all about getting the vinegar, spices, and sugar boiling, then adding the cold veggies. Cook them for a bit, and then bottle them up. Place the bottles in a big stock pot filled with boiling water.

Make sure the water fully covers your bottles, but make sure you don’t have too much water either. Once the bottles were in, I had to scoop out a bunch of the water because I knew that when it got boiling again, I’d have water everywhere. Yikes! So out came about two cups of hot, hot water. I’m so glad Chris didn’t see me doing this. (Shhhhh!!)

Okay! Crisis averted. And now to bring the water to a rolling boil. Remember: do not start your timer until the water is rapidly boiling again. And if you’re in Utah, you have to adjust your time for altitude (i.e., add 5 minutes). Then you wait, and nervously hope that your bottles don’t crash into each other and shatter.

Pro tip: Next time, add a clean dish cloth to the bottom of the pot to help keep everything stable. Yup.

Ding! Pickles are done! I turned off the burner and waited another five minutes for all the boiling to stop and for the contents of the jars to chill out. Lifting them out was a bit of a challenge because I didn’t have cool jar-lifting tongs. Again, I’m glad Chris didn’t see me screwing around with dish towels and regular tongs. But not burning myself for the win, right?

Pro tip: Get jar-lifting tongs.

And there you have it. Pickles! For the record: They’re spectacular. Bon Appetit comes through for us again! We’ve almost polished off a full quart of these babies.

Last weekend, I made dill pickles from our mountain of CSA zucchini. These dill pickles had to sit a week before you can taste them, to give them time to pickle and soak up the dilly goodness. They should be ready for a taste test tonight! Hooray!