Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Well after a slow start this season, they are finally here. I'm referring to squash, zucchini and cucumbers! While I just love eating all this fresh abundance from the garden I have a confession to make. I just love eating pickles. especially home-made pickles and to be more precise bread and butter pickles. So early this morning I picked a basket of Kirby cucumbers (better known as pickling cukes) from the garden and knowing full well it was going to be a ninety degree day-- perfect conditions for canning wouldn't you say?
I don't know. I just got the itch to make some good old fashioned bread and butter pickles. with the cukes and some onions. You too can easily make these--don't be intimidated.. just do it. You'll see that flash of nostalgia in their eyes when you serve these to your family from that very first bite and from there on in you'll be their favorite culinary genius or even better bring a jar along to the next cookout you'll be attending. Who needs another pie anyway? I just love the color and crunchy pickly taste in every single bite! The amounts given in this recipe will yield six pint sized jars. I tripled my recipe to give me the six jars, plus one large half gallon jar to bring to a friend.
Bread and Butter Pickles
3 lbs Kirby cukes (known as pickling cucumbers)
1 lb yellow onions. thinly sliced
1/4 cup kosher salt - don't use regular salt or your pickles will look cloudy and not so perdy
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 TBLS mustard seed
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp celery seed
1 tsp pickling spice
1 inch cinnamon stick ( to be removed at the end of the cook
6-8 allspice berries plus a pinch of ground allspice
6 whole cloves. plus a pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp tumeric
Clean the cukes and cut off the ends. Slice them into 1/8th - 1/4 inch slices and place in a large bowl. Slice the onions and also add to the bowl sprinkling pickling salt over all. Toss this mixture up well. Now cover the mix with a clean towel--really. just set the towel on top of all the cukes and onions. Then cover the towel with ice cubes so the whole towel is covered. Put the bowl in your refrigerator for several hours.. (at least four.. overnight even better). Take the bowl out and throw away the ice. Rinse off your cukes and onions and drain the water. Do this a second time now to remove any excess salt.
Now--if you intend to keep your jars of pickles on a shelf. or give them away at Christmas. you'll need to process the jars appropriately. If you're bringing them to a picnic this weekend. move on to the next paragraph now. Clean your jars and lids with soap and water. then. while your cooking the pickles. pour boiling water over the lids in a separate bowl. Most people consider the dishwasher to be enough sterilization for jars. so go ahead and just set the jars aside. ready to fill. If you insist on actual sterilization (I happen to do this with everything I put in a jar). place the jars in boiling water in a big stock pot for 10 minutes. Then. take them out just before you put the pickles in them so they are still hot.
Grab a six quart pot and bring the vinegars, sugar and all the spices to a gentle boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the cukes and onions and bring this to a boil again. You'll want to stir frequently. When the mixture starts to boil again, use a slotted spoon to pack just the cukes and onions into your clean jars. Pack them up to an inch from the top of the jars. Then use a ladle to pour the vinegar syrup over the cukes and into the jars, up to half an inch from the tops. Wipe all the rims of the jars clean with a damp paper towel, then take your lids out of the hot water to cover your jars. If you're not keeping these on a shelf, go ahead and let them cool, then put all the jars in the fridge. Viola.. done! I hope you took a minute to get a taste before you sealed your jars!
Okay now, here's the important part when it comes to keeping these bad boys on a shelf. Use the same big stock pot you used to sterilize your jars--the water should be still hot put the rack to your water bath in the bottom of the pot. Please use a rack or some other make shift rack for the bottom of your pot. The jars shouldn't be touching the bottom of your pot. Now once you have boiling water again, put your jars into the pot--you'll want to use strong canning tongs if you have them, and let them boil, covers in tact, for ten minutes. This is known as the boiling water bath in the world of canning. You can do it... trust me. When the ten minutes is up, remove your pot from the heat and doing your very best--safely remove the jars from the pot using your tongs or safe grabbing device. **If you plan to do any more canning, you might pick up one of those canning equipment sets you can get these anywhere from big supermarket chains to Wally World. This'll make things easier in the future.
I hope you love these little babies as much as we do! Enjoy!