The smell of vinegar wafted through the kitchen that was full of cucumbers, fresh dill, mustard seed and turmeric.
The University of Illinois Extension offered a class last week how to preserve kosher dill pickles and spicy bread and butter pickles at the education center and community teaching kitchen in La Salle.
Nutrition and wellness educator Susan Glassman taught the class to 10 women, who learned the scientific methods for preserving food safely, gained hands-on canning experience and took home the colorful creations they preserved.
Here are four things to know about preserving pickles.
1. The end result isn’t a quick turnaround
After the initial set of directions are completed, you put the pickles on the shelf for four to five weeks to cure for ideal flavor.
“It’s not like a refrigerator pickle that’s ready in a couple hours. This is something that needs to sit and let the flavors absorb,” Glassman said.
2. Don’t breathe in the vinegar
“Remember that vinegar is a strong odor,” Glassman said, and if you get a good whiff of it, you won’t feel too good.
She mentioned this to the class while they were bringing the brine (vinegar, water, salt) to a boil.
“I want you to remember not to breathe in the vinegar, no catastrophes in the kitchen,” she said.
3. Preserving is an investment to start
“This is a nice hobby, but it’s an investment to start,” said Glassman about preserving pickles.
She mentioned preserving isn’t always a hobby: It can be used as method ensuring food for the next seasons.
She said the needed equipment can usually be found online or at a local store that sells canning jars and other items.
“Big ticket items include the water bath canners, pressure canners and tools. Once you invest, you will use your equipment for generations,” she said.
They do recommend a new gauge as needed with pressure canning — the Extension office offers free testing — but your canner will last for many years, she said.
4. Pickles won’t last forever
“The recommendation is to use what you put up before the next season, generally one year,” said Glassman.
The Extension suggests using guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation if someone has preserved food that’s been in storage for years. Information about that can be found at https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/general/identify_handle_spoiled_canned_food.html.
For more information about Extension, upcoming classes, or canning questions, search online at web.extension.illinois.edu/blmp/ or call (815) 224-0889.
Ali Braboy can be reached at (815) 220-6931 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @NT_LaSalle.