first-time canning

various jarsAs my Twitter friends know, I tried my hand at canning for the first time recently. Fortunately Jen is canning all the time, so she already had all the tools I'd need. Then I stocked up on jars. We'd signed up for a Brooklyn Swappers event, which was also new to me. So of course I went totally overboard because I wasn't sure if anything would turn out spiced pickled okraI made two kinds of okra, both from Canning for a New Generation, which I can strongly recommend. This is the hot pepper okra. I tried these the day before the event and wow, they're amazing. Looking at this photo, I guess I could have packed a few more into each jar, but they didn't float up until later on, after the okra had softened a bit.Creole-spiced pickled okraThis is the Creole-spiced okra, which was also fantastic. It's a tough call which recipe I liked best. I'd urge you to try both.pickled figsThese are pickled figs, a recipe from A Love Affair with Southern Cooking by Jean Anderson. This recipe called for letting the figs sit in the jar for about a month before tasting them, so I honestly can't vouch for them yet. Needless to say I'm curious because I'd never heard of pickling figs before. Well, they look pretty, right? I sure hope they taste good because I swapped someone for a jar of them at the event.Vermouth-rosemary olivesI tried a couple of recipes which weren't really "canned," meaning that they're meant to be refrigerated, with a shorter lifespan, and I didn't go through the whole jar-sealing process. Both recipes came from a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living -- this one was for vermouth-rosemary olives. I'm not a martini guy, but I have to imagine these are a treat if you are a fan of the classic cocktail. From the same issue of the magazine, I also made a batch of the bourbon-soaked cherries, which are perfect for serving in Manhattans. They pack a lot of punch if you eat them just for snacking. The jars "sealed" themselves because the liquid was so hot when I poured it in, but they didn't have the acidity needed to make them safe at room temperature for a long period of time.spiced pecansAs if those 5 different jars weren't enough, I made some spiced nuts too -- the chipotle pecans from Lisa Fain's The Homesick Texan Cookbook. These were great too.spiced pecansI packed them in little 3-ounce baggies. Cute, right? Of course I saved myself half the batch to eat at home because these were so tasty.