Sunday, August 30, 2009

Making Pickles

The dog days of August… the days are shorter now with the intense afternoon heat cooling slightly earlier in the evening.  The smell of rotting fruit drifts through the air in Rural Town America as the last of the peaches are trucked away.  The backyard herb garden is ready for another harvesting and the drying the fragrant leaves takes place before winter’s approach.  There are cucumbers, zucchini and tomatoes everywhere with neighbors sharing their abundant garden produce and Farmer’s Markets lowering their prices.
I have never made pickles!  I am in my 50s now and it is time to overcome my canning fears and learn this seasonal skill.  I’ve got all the right stuff, cucumbers and bell peppers from my friends garden, canning jars, very big pots, special spices, onions,  and oh…. this is important, my friend, Muriel to teach me the method (and share her very yummy recipe).
First, we sliced the cucumbers, onions and peppers.  We then placed the sliced cucs in a large bowl and tossed them with salt letting them just sit and hang out for about 10 minutes.
Before rinsing the salt from the cucumber slices, we used this time to prepare the pickling sauce:
Muriel’s awesome recipe for “Bread & Butter Pickles”
2 cups Water
2 cups white distilled Vinegar
2 cups Sugar
2 Cinnamon sticks (broken, we used a meat hammer)
2t. Celery seed
2t. Dry Mustard
1T. Salt
We doubled this recipe and it made a perfect 9 quarts of pickles!
We got the sauce cooking in a big pot while our Mason Jars were going through the dishwasher to sterilize. 
Once the sauce came to a boil we rinsed the salt off the cucumber slices and added them and the evenly sliced onions and peppers to the sauce, stirring and turning to get them processed evenly.  They cooked for about 5 minutes just until they looked glossy.
The huge pot that fit the quart size mason jars was boiling at this point, just in time for the next part of the process, the canning.
We spooned the pickles and the sauce from the cooking pot into the sterile jars.  The jars got hot so we had to use dishtowels and potholders. It is very important to keep the rims of the jars from any matter getting on them so the lids will seal properly.  We had to use a paper towel to wipe some of the rims after spooning in the pickles.

Once the jars were closed, we lowered them into the big pot of boiling water and poured more water from a teakettle to make sure the water came over the tops of the jars.  Once there was a full boil with all of the jars completely submerged, we put the lid on and set the timer for 10 full minutes.

Lifting the jars out of the boiling water once the time was up required a special toll like big tongs with big handles.  We set the jars on a wicker tray to cool – sure enough, one by one the lids showed the indentation that shows that they sealed properly.  Muriel reminded me to date the jars before putting them into the pantry.
Finally, I know how to can!  I am going to make some Apple-Pear Sauce this Fall!


brite said...

I don't even like pickles and I want to make some! :)

Kirsten Corsaro said...

Sounds delicious! I love bread & butter pickles. I think you've inspired me to give this a try.

La Tea Dah said...

You have a lovely blog! Thank you for your comments on mine --- I'm glad to get to know you.


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