Canning In The Spring | WYPR

Canning In The Spring

May 13, 2020

Pickled asparagus
Credit Colorado State University Extension via Flickr

All of us who are staying at home on a full-time basis are finding that we have a lot of time on our hands. I'm constantly keeping my eyes open for little projects that will eat up some of my spare time. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino will tell you, a kitchen can be a place for creativity and enterprise.


If you are feeling a little ambitious and you're wondering what to do with all the produce you've bought this spring, here's an idea: you can preserve it by canning or pickling. Now a lot of people will tell you those are autumnal pursuits, but in fact there is absolutely no reason not to put away a little of the spring's bounty for later on. Things like asparagus, baby beets, ramps, spring onions, rhubarb and strawberries are perfect for either canning, pickling or preserving.


Here are some ideas Jerry has come up with.


Canning Rules and Hints:


1. Don’t use jars larger than a quart. Home canning technology cannot guarantee that larger quantities will be sufficiently heated through for enough time. Rather, the food on the outside will overcook, while that on the inside won’t get hot enough for food safety.


2. A water-bath canner may only be used for high acid foods such as tomatoes, fruits, rhubarb, sauerkraut, pickles, and jams/jellies. A pressure canner MUST be used for low acid foods including vegetables, meats, and stews.


3. Use only modern canning recipes from reliable sources (especially when first starting out).


4. Never reuse jar lids. Used lids aren’t reliable for sealing correctly. If a screw-on band is rusty or bent, it won’t work right and should be discarded and replaced. 5. Don’t use antique or ‘French’ -type canning jars. They aren’t as safe as the modern, regular ‘Ball, Kerr’ type.


6. Check the jar rims carefully every year by running your finger over the top of the rim and checking for nicks. Even the tiniest nick makes the jar unusable for canning. A nicked jar rim won’t seal reliably.


7. Raw pack is not safe for certain foods: all kinds of greens (spinach, etc.), white potatoes, squash, okra, a tomato/okra combination, and stewed tomatoes.


8. You must allow the correct amount of space (head-space) between your food, together with the liquid that covers it, and the jar lid (follow the recipe instructions).


9. Do not begin counting the processing time until after the water in the canner comes to a rolling boil (if using the water-bath method), or until after steam has vented for 10 minutes AND until the pressure gauge has risen to the recommended pressure after placing the weight on the vent pipe (if using a pressure canner).


10. Process the full recommended time (and at the recommended pressure if using pressure canner).


11. Lift out each jar individually using a jar lifter; keep it upright and not tipped.


12. If a jar did not seal, discard the lid, check to see if the jar rim is chipped (discard jar), check for food residue on the rim (clean), put on a new lid, and reprocess. Or consume the food and/or put in the refrigerator as you would any other leftover food for later consumption.



Asparagus with Tarragon & Red Onion




1 ½ cups champagne vinegar

1 cup water

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

5 sprigs fresh tarragon

1 red onion, cut into ¼ inch dice

1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed


In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring, until solids are dissolved. Remove from heat and add tarragon and shallot. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange asparagus in a tall 24oz. Ball wide mouth canning jar. Pour brine on top. It should be enough to cover the asparagus. If not make up a small amount of 1:1 water to champagne vinegar and add just enough to submerge the asparagus. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.



Ramps with Juniper & Black Peppercorns




1 ½ cups champagne vinegar

1 cup water

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

5 juniper berries

1 tablespoon black peppercorns. 

1 pound ramps, green leaves cut off (quickly blanche the leaves and use them in place of basil in your favorite pesto recipe)


In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring, until solids are dissolved. Add the juniper and black pepper and boil for an additional 2 minutes. Add the ramps and boil for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes. Place the ramps and brine in a canning jar and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.



Spicy Pickled Radishes




1 large bunch radishes, about 1 lb. without tops

1 cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 

½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds 

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf


Slice off the tops and bottoms of the radishes, then use a sharp chef's knife or mandoline to slice the radishes into very thin rounds. Pack the rounds into a pint-sized canning jar. In a small saucepan, combine all the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then pour the mixture over the radishes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The pickles will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks, although they are in their most fresh and crisp state for about 5 days after pickling.



Pickled Baby Beets




1 lb. baby beets, peeled and sliced in half

1 tablespoon whole mustard seed

1 tablespoon whole coriander seed

1 tablespoon whole fennel seed

1 tablespoon whole black pepper corn

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

½ cup yellow onion sliced
½ cup sugar
2 cups champagne vinegar (or similar)


Combine the vinegar with 2 cups water in a sauce pan. Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Pack the beets into a container with a lid large enough to hold them.

Pour the pickling liquid over the beets, cover and place in the refrigerator. 

Allow to pickle for at least two days. Serve cold or at room temperature.



Bread & Butter Pickles




3 pounds crisp cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick

½ medium onion, thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic sliced in half

2 cups white vinegar

½ cup water

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you’d like!)

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric in a large saucepan set over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Fill your sterilized canning jars with the cucumbers and onions, leaving about ½ inch space from the top of the jars. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and onions to fill the jars. Seal the jars according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in the refrigerator and allow to sit for several days before opening to allow the flavors to fully develop. Best served chilled.



Strawberry Jam




2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled

4 cups white sugar

¼ cup lemon juice


In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving ¼ to ½ inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.