for I have Pickled

November 21, 2011

…Successfully- as I’ve heard the “pop”!

 This is not the first time for me to pickle vegetables. I never forget my mother’s annual tomato paste canning event. No kidding, it was truly an event. She had a gigantic propane range and a humongous pot to go with it. She would have a helper. They would start from early morning and continue through early evening. Washing, mashing, cooking, stirring (and they stirred nonstop once the tomatoes started to boil) until she achieved the perfect color and consistency (and it had to be just perfect for my mom- nothing less would do). Then, the cooking was done and canning would start. I couldn’t tell you how many jars of perfect tomato pastes she made every year.  But there were many, many, many of them stacked neatly in the basement- enough to last us a whole year. Almost every Iranian household would do this annual chore. Tomato sauce/paste is a staple in Persian cuisine and we are as fussy as Italians are when it comes to our tomato sauce. Iranians are also seriously into pickling all sorts of vegetables (Torshee). Torshees are not an optional food group. They are the “must-have” condiments(one of many) to accompany various foods.

I have successfully followed the footsteps of my ancestors and fellow Iranians in making Torshees over the years. But, I had never followed “the safe canning method”. I would just wash the jars and veggies, prepare the pickling brine, stuff the jars, pour enough brine in each jar to cover the content and screw the lid on. I was taught that the salt and vinegar’s acidity take care of the preservring the food. Although, we never contracted any disease in eating the non-safe pickled veggies; I thought it is time to get older and wiser. Since I don’t have a huge freezer; I have often pondered over getting a small one to store sauces, soups, etc. Lately, I have been thinking about canning the same to eliminate the need for an additional piece of energy-sucking appliance. So, I did a bit of research and decided to start with the pickling this year’s harvest of hot peppers. Since for this type of pickling a pressure canning method is not required; I decided against buying all the necessary tools and to just give it a try. Actually, the only items purchased were the canning jars. I borrowed my sister’s huge pasta pot, lined the bottom with a steamer basket (in place of a canning rack) and used standard kitchen thongs, spatula and funnel in place of proper canning tools. My reasoning was that if I actually did dig canning; then I would invest in buying the tools and a pressure canner for more serious canning purposes.

So, I placed the steamer basket at the bottom of the borrowed pot, filled it with water and brought the water to a boil. Even though sterilizing the jars are not necessary for canning of acidic food, I did leave my jars and their fittings in boiling water for a few minutes while making the pickling brine. I had washed and dried my peppers the night before, so the whole process for canning a few jars took about 30-40 minutes including the time needed for water to come to a boil.

I wore a proud smile when I heard the first popping sound.

After about two weeks wait, I opened one of the jars last night to have a taste while having a dinner guest. It was just awesome!

p.s. I have placed an order for a pressure canner.


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