I recently came into contact with a terrifying Yukon beast: Mus musculus, the house mouse. After the encounter, I contacted everyone I knew, in complete panic.
“There’s a bear in your house?!” they’d ask, confused.
“No, a MOUSE!” I’d reply, to resounding laughter.
From my perch on top of the couch, as far from the floor as I could get, it didn’t seem all that funny.
The last time a mouse occupied the same living space as me was in 1998. My two younger sisters and I were all playing in the basement of our house, when my glance happened to cross over a shelving unit in the corner. There, on one of the shelves, a giant brown mouse sat, just chilling.
And much like my present day self, I went into full freak-out mode – bolting up the basement stairs and slamming the door at the top shut. My sisters came pounding up the stairs behind me and banged on the other side of the door, screaming, “Let us out!”
“I can’t!” I replied, “otherwise the mouse will get out, too.”
My mom eventually came along and made me release my sisters from their mousey confinement. Once the three of us calmed down enough from the experience, we decided to name our new house guest Cocoa. Cocoa made one more appearance, terrifying both my parents and the family dog, before meeting his demise the way tiny, furry invaders often do.
Back to present day, I set up traps only to find them untouched when I get home. Still apprehensive, I decide to start cleaning and open a cupboard to get some rubber gloves… and there was the mouse, with his little feet up and a paw full of pickling salt halfway to his mouth. Much screaming ensued on my part, until my landlord appeared to remove the small offender. I hope Cocoa 2 is happy and enjoying all the salt he wants, far away from me.
So instead of a canning recipe today, I thought I’d share my mouse story along with some information on both pickling salt and rubber gloves. Most pickling recipes often require pickling salt, which is pure sodium chloride (salt!) with no additives – an ideal ingredient that won’t cloud your brine or discolour your pickles. Regular table salt contains additives that will likely cause both these things to happen if used.
Kosher and authentic sea salt will also work in place of pickling salt.
Rubber gloves are handy things to have around, for cleaning up after mice or cutting up spicy peppers. My first ever canning project was jalapeno jelly, for which I cut up a pound of jalapenos without wearing gloves. The jelly turned out beautifully, but I had capsaicin burn up to my elbows for days after. So save your skin – wear gloves when handling spicy peppers.
You got this – any recipe (or mouse) that crosses your path!