Tag Archives: pickling

16 Batches of Pesto is Squirrel Behavior

pesto productionIt has begun.

The point in the summer when my squirrel instincts kick in and I start stuffing and storing food in my cheeks and no one notices because I’m really fat.

Wait – no – I mean, the point in the season where I become a squirrel but no one notices because I’m already impressively hirsute.

Gah! What I really mean is —


I can feel it in my bones. The need to sock food away in the pantry and freezer. I look at all produce and wonder what I can do with it to save it. I don’t do it in a small way, either. Food preserving in a small way is great and I encourage everyone to do it on any scale that suits them.

I only do it on a large scale. I’m an inherently lazy person. I really am. I think in some way my spazzy excitement about the things I love has to be balanced out by my dark chronic depression and a damning inertia in order to prevent the world and people around me from being irradiated by my overwhelming excitement over the little things, like when I find basil for $1.25 per bunch from my local farm.

I can’t muster up the energy to make one or two batches of pesto. That would require that I drag out my food processor and all the ingredients for food that will be gone by tomorrow. WASTED USE OF ENERGY. But it’s totally worth getting it out to make 16 batches of pesto.

That’s what I made yesterday. One batch to eat last night and 15 to put in the freezer.

Need a pesto recipe? I have a great one my friend Chelsea and I developed together:

Pesto Recipe

Philip wants me to make at least 10 more batches. It’s hard to refuse when I can get locally grown basil for such a great price. I can’t afford to buy pine nuts so this pesto is made with walnuts.

Walnuts I foraged from the neighborhood for free last fall. I have plenty to use up. Tons. That cost me nothing but the labor of gathering and then cracking them and then freezing them. This makes this pesto the cheapest I’ve ever made. In Oregon one summer I froze 21 batches of pesto but each basil bunch was $2.40 and I used pine nuts which cost $16 per pound (I think we got ours from Trader Joe’s which might have been less but some pine nuts cost up to $32 per pound and eventually I just couldn’t pay it). Anyway, it was much more expensive to make that pesto but it was worth it for how much better home made pesto is than store bought.

This year the pesto is costing about $2 per batch which is just for the oil and Parmesan and garlic. A bargain.

There’s something about food preserving that makes me so excited and energized and deeply satisfied. I look forward to canning season all year just as much as I look forward to eating tomatoes and cucumbers all year. I hope I’ll get a ton of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce in the freezer this year too. Last year I didn’t process many tomatoes in the canner because I have a lot of space to use up in my freezer and if I don’t fill it then it’s wasted energy.

Today is a pickling day. Yesterday was going to be for pickling but then that basil happened and I had to go with it. Today I’m pickling (ripe) cherry tomatoes (new to me – not sure if I’ll like the results) and dilled beans which I love and haven’t made for several years. I’ll do one or two jars with a hot pepper in them for my sister and others who like a spicy pickle.

It’s already almost 1pm and I’m still in my pyjamas so it’s time to get dressed and bicycle to the farm for some dill heads and I may have to go get more vinegar. I’ll be using the burner on the BBQ for the canning today as I’ll be making batches too big for the kitchen stove.


Pickled Jalapeno Recipe

This recipe is based on the one in Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich but I’ve changed the spices to match my own tastes.  I wanted pickled peppers like the ones I buy in jars in the Mexican section of the grocery store and these absolutely hit the spot. The main difference is that canning them at home gives you a softer finished pickle which some people might not like as much.  The ones in the store can be almost crunchy at times.  I don’t personally like them crunchy so these are perfect for me.  If you want a crunchier pickle you can add pickling lime but I’m not going to advise on how to do that since my one experience using pickling lime disgusted me beyond belief.  The taste of these peppers is tangy, hot, with just a little garlic flavor.  I suggest eating large quantities of them with huge blocks of cheese.

Pickled Jalapeno Recipe

Serving Size: yields about 4 pint jars

Pickled Jalapeno Recipe


  • 2 lbs jalapenos (whole or sliced in rounds)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 4 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp canning salt (or pure sea salt with zero additives)
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil


  1. In a nonreactive sauce pan mix the vinegar, water, and salt and bring to a boil. At the same time put your jars in the water canner to boil until you need them.
  2. Wash the peppers and trim the stems to about 1/4" or cut all the peppers into rounds discarding the stem ends. If using whole peppers slit them twice lengthwise.
  3. Divide the spices between the jars evenly and fill each jar with as many peppers as you can fit without cramming them.
  4. Fill each jar with brine. Shake the jars a little and tap (gently) on counter top to bring air bubbles to the surface. Top up with more brine if needed leaving 1/2" headspace.
  5. Pour 1 Tbsp olive oil into each jar. Wipe the rims carefully with a clean damp cloth. Fit the jars with two piece lids.
  6. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.*
  7. Let the peppers cure for 3 weeks in a cool, dry, dark place before opening.


*I have not included the basic steps for boiling water bath canning here. I assume you already know them. If you are new to canning then please check out this link for how to can foods using the boiling water bath method here: Intro To Canning

How much brine you need is going to depend on the size of your peppers and whether you leave them whole or slice them. You may have some left over and that's fine.

If you are working with a large amount of peppers it may be more useful to follow this guideline: add to each jar 1 garlic clove, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/8 tsp peppercorns, and 1 Tbsp olive oil.

At the time of this writing I canned 12 lbs of jalapenos and ended up with 28 pints of pickles. I did a mix of whole and sliced peppers. I mention this to illustrate that yields can only be given in approximations here.