I never thought I would utter these words: “so I spent Sunday afternoon canning”…but, I did.

I’ve been in a ‘back to the roots’ mode the last year or so which means cooking a lot of old southern and cajun favorites, but also going for a lot of classics. I suppose it might be a reaction to too much food on the road from lots of great restaurants, but maybe a bit too much ‘nouvelle’.

So I’ve been thinking about pickled things of late. And, fall is in the air, so there’s plenty of great stuff available to work with. Tried my hand at some ‘instant’ pickles last winter – carrots, cukes and grapes (yes, pickled grapes)…from the Lee Brothers cookbook – Simple Fresh Southern…all good, but lacking in depth. I was in B&N on Sunday and spied You Can Can! cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens. I liked the the mix of science and interesting recipes, so I picked it up. Then it was on to Wal-Mart for Ball jars and other supplies and to the farmer’s market for some produce.

The old original...

I think a lot of success in the kitchen comes down to two things: technique and ingredients. I lot of folks don’t cook because they haven’t cooked enough to get the techniques down. And, if you don’t focus on the quality of your ingredients, you will find it hard to go from good to great food. In fact, sometimes you just need to get out of the way of great ingredients and let them shine.

I said ‘back to the roots’, but in this case not my roots…we weren’t canning in my household when I was a kid and I don’t remember anyone else I knew being into it. My uninformed perception was that it was kind of technical and sort of scary – all that concern about everything being sterile and lots of talk of botulism. With guidebook in hand, I went right to source of all (ok, some) knowledge that always (ok, sometimes) sheds the light where there is darkness – Youtube.

I find that when technique is in question, I appreciate watching someone else walk through the steps. I had to blow past a couple of flaky presentations, but found some good ones that walked through the process – and, after watching a few that said and showed the same things, I felt ready to give it a shot.

The first two creations were: Spicy Green Tomato pickles and Bread and Butter pickles, 7 pints of each. I did my best to follow the steps correctly and took my time. In the end, I thought it was pretty easy.

They supposedly will last up to a couple of years, but if they are any good, that won’t happen. Of course, it will be a couple of weeks before they are ‘pickled enough’ to crack a jar open…talk about slow food!

I can can, or at least I can jar.