Every time I walk by a Williams-Sonoma store, I am pulled in by a force that is stronger than any top-of-the-line vacuum on the market. Ever since I can remember, the store has had such a refined feel to it, and the staff is always so welcoming and willing to help. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked in to browse and been greeted with a snack or beverage. It’s kind of like going to a dear friend’s home. A friend who can cook. Really well. 😉
Last weekend, Kenny, Cody, and I attended one of their free classes. Yes, folks, they will teach you some pretty amazing techniques and ideas… without charging you a thing. Oh – and you get to taste the creations at the end! Win-win! I’d always wanted to go to one of these, and when I saw this class was called “From the Garden”, and that they’d be some type of canning, I was in. You know I love to pickle beets (here’s my blog about that), but canning/pickling itself is one of those things I just don’t do enough of. So, I figured it I went, I’d get the motivation I needed. It worked. I’m dying to start up again after the wedding.
We walked in, and were immediately greeting by Chef Gina, whose caffeinated effervescence was contagious. If you’re ever able to attend one of her classes, I cannot tell you how much you’ll enjoy her super-fun, sweet style. “Welcome in, folks! We’re going to be making pickles today!” After introducing herself and her assistant, she was off and running. She talked about the importance of sterilizing jars when canning, and showed us this new item (or at least new to me!) made by the Ball company that can sterilize your jars in only 12 minutes. What?! I’ve done it either in the dishwasher, which takes a ton of time, as well as water…or by boiling it in big pots for what seems like forever. Great tip! This contraption also will help can your pickles, jams, tomatoes… whatever you’re canning…. without a worry. Now don’t get me wrong… this class wasn’t on the wonders of a product they were selling, it’s just that I am a major gadget girl and this one was extraordinary. I’ll give you a link at the bottom of the blog so you can take a look at this beauty.
Chef Gina walked us through the various stages of making Classic Dill Pickles, including tips like striping the peel (it’s not a taste thing – it just looks really pretty in the jar) to talking about different cuts to make for the onions, depending on how you’d like the jar to appear. I’ve shared the recipe here, which can also be found on Williams-Sonoma’s website.
After the tasting of the pickles (wowee!), Chef Gina treated us to a delicious treat: she and her assistant had made a couple of jams a few days earlier for us to try! There was a Strawberry-Lemon, and a Blackberry-Lime. Of course, you can’t just eat jam from a spoon for a true taste… okay, so I know you technically can… but that’s no fun! So, we were each given a little cup of homemade vanilla ice cream with the jams on top. I think this was Cody’s favorite part of the class 😉 Those recipes were from the book that comes with the Ball Fresh Tech.
All in all, it was a wonderful hour of fun, techniques, and deliciousness. I cannot wait to go again! Here’s a link to their next few classes, including one on Artichokes, one on Risotto, and another on Pizza!
Classic Dill Pickles
These homemade pickles are prepared with a brine that includes our pickling spices, a classic English blend of aromatic allspice, coriander, yellow mustard, fennel and bay leaves; cayenne and black pepper add a hint of zesty heat. Adapted from a recipe by Williams-Sonoma.
- 3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 2 Tbs. kosher salt
- 6 Tbs. pickling spices
- 6 Tbs. dill seeds
- 24 fresh dill sprigs
- 6 lb. cucumbers, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
- 1 small white onion, cut lengthwise into thin slices
Have ready 6 hot, sterilized one-pint canning jars and their lids.
In a large nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar and salt. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt.
Meanwhile, in each jar, place 1 Tbs. pickling spices, 1 Tbs. dill seeds and 4 dill sprigs. Layer the cucumber and onion slices in the jars, packing them tightly and avoiding large gaps. Fill the jars to within 3/4 inch of the rims.
Ladle the hot brine into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.
To process the jars, put the sealed jars in a large deep pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and boil the jars for 7 minutes, taking care that they are submerged at all times. Using long-handled tongs, transfer to a towel-lined surface to cool.
Let the jars stand undisturbed for 24 hours and then set them aside for 2 weeks to allow the flavors to develop. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 6 one-pint jars.
Here’s a wonderful clip about Aunt Bea’s pickles, from The Andy Griffith Show – enjoy!
Click here to read more about the Ball Fresh TECH Automatic Canning System. PS: wouldn’t it make a perfect wedding gift? hint, hint… 😉
Have you ever attended a fun cooking class? Tell me about it here!