BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
Are you finding it hard to keep busy while isolating at home during the age of COVID-19 ? With the ongoing pandemic, many people are learning how to bake, how to grow their own vegetables, how to repair their homes, and how to cook. Why not add home canning to your to-learn list ?
Now is the perfect time to rediscover the fun and flavor of home canning because September at your farmers market offers the best of summer’s peaches, corn, peppers, and cucumbers while also giving you a glimpse of fall with apples, pears, Brussels sprouts, and more. At the Martinez market you can find peaches at Ken’s Top Notch in Fresno and Guzman Farm in Denair for jam, pears from Alhambra Valley Pears & Beef in Martinez for canned pears, apples for apple butter at Smit Farm in Linden, and pickling cucumbers from KEM Farms in Fresno.
Pick up a book or two on home canning like the “Ball Blue Book,” a longtime favorite. We also recommend that you stick with reputable canning websites such as freshpreserving.com or the National Center for Home Food Preservation at nchfp.uga.edu. Another website for safe canning recipes is foodinjars.com, where you’ll find safe and tested recipes. Consider joining a Facebook group that offers recipes and information for canners. Whichever way you decide to learn, be sure to learn how to preserve and can safely while self-isolating at home !
Your bulk purchases will greatly help your local farmers during this difficult time. With months of pandemic restrictions – and now threatened with wildfires and smoke – farmers are being hit hard on all sides. Local farmers markets are one of the few remaining outlets where farmers can sell their fruits and vegetables directly to consumers. All the purchases you make will help keep them farming and feeding their own families so please help your local farmers market by visiting one nearby and purchase as much produce as you can. Local farmers are depending on you !
16 to 18 good sized pickling cucumbers, washed
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups distilled white vinegar
4 cups water
5 tablespoons pickling salt
16 garlic cloves, 2 per jar
16 small sprigs fresh dill, 2 per jar
4 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
4 dried chili peppers, seeded (optional), 1/2 for each jar
8 pint canning jars, lids, and rings
In a large pot, combine water, vinegars, and salt. Bring to a simmer. Sterilize 8 pint jars in boiling water for a few minutes. Arrange on the counter and evenly divide spices, garlic, and optional chili peppers in each jar. Slice off blossom ends of each pickle. Slice pickles into halves or quarters. Keep on ice until ready to stuff jars.
Firmly pack pickles into each jar, leaving ½-inch headspace. Carefully pour hot vinegar mixture into each jar up to 1/2 inch below rim of jar. Use a butter knife and slide it down the inside of each jar to remove any air bubbles. Add sterilized lids and rings and process in boiling water for 10 minutes in water bath canner. Remove from canner and let cool on the counter. Listen for the lids to pop. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to 9 months.
Farmers Markets continue to be an essential part of our local food system and while safety guidelines remain in place we will continue to offer an outlet for farmers, customers, and the community to enjoy fresh local produce. We thank you for supporting your local farmers market because you, the community, are an essential part of our local food system. Your support keeps our farmers markets running and our farmers farming!
The Martinez Farmers Market is every Sunday, 9am to 2pm, at Main St. and Estudillo St. Street parking is available.