It appears to me that this summer is hotter here in Pensacola, Florida than it was last year. It could just be me, or the mood I am in; although it feels unbearable outside. Happy July everyone!
Since Saturday, I have mowed the grass, trimmed the bushes in the front yard, and tended to my garden areas. I have sweated so much that I could wring out my clothes… no kidding. The humidity is stifling!
A glutton for punishment, I picked tons of cucumbers yesterday and decided I was going to make some canned bread and butter pickles. Sure, I had not done this in 20 years, but I was game!
I washed all the jars and lids and left them to dry.
Meanwhile, I washed all the cucumbers and sliced them into the largest containers I could find in my kitchen. I wanted to be able to put my hands in the bowls so I could stir the ingredients well.
I sliced them as you would for a salad, but not too thin.
I like to add carrot matchsticks, red onion, and garlic to my recipe. I used white vinegar, sugar and sugar substitute, pickling spices, dill, and the spice turmeric in the canning mixture that goes into the jars. Combined with the sugar, the turmeric gives a little kick to your pickles. I always try to cut calories whenever I use a recipe that relies on so much sugar. The sugar substitute works well as long as you mix the two together.
After the cucumbers are all sliced in their respective bowls (or pots, whatever works will do) I sprinkled a 1/2 cup TOTAL of iodized sea salt between the three containers I had. You must MIX WELL. I like sea salt the best because of the flavor it imparts. Pickling salt is too salty for me. Season to your taste, however, you do not want your pickles too salty!
I used a garlic press for the garlic and added two cloves per container. I distributed the carrots the same way, splitting the package equally into each container. I used all of the carrots. I sliced the onion into long thin strands.
After adding the salt, I used my hands and mixed each container thoroughly. Immediately, I covered each cucumber mixture with ice cubes and let the containers sit for two hours. The ice slowly melts and leaves you with a salty liquid (brine) that helps to preserve the pickles. The ice bath helps the vegetables to retain their color.
I began to boil the water in my canning pot that I will need to submerge the jars in to seal them.
After two hours, I drained each container into a colander. You do not want the salty water or ice in your cucumbers. I then filled the canning jars with the cucumber mixture. I packed mine fairly tight, but left room up at the top of the jar.
In a separate pot, I placed the following ingredients and brought it to a boil:
- 4 1/2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of sugar substitute
- 4 cups of white vinegar
- the whole container of pickling spices
- 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
Once the mixture had boiled, I spooned this pickling mixture into each jar. I ended up with a dozen pint jars and a small bit I put into a plastic container I could keep in the refrigerator.
Now it is time to put the lids on. Place the flat lid on first and then add the ring jar lid. Screw them on securely.
I placed the jars into my canning pot filled with boiling water. I used a tongs and carefully placed each jar into the pot. You need at least an inch covering the top of each jar. Boil the jars for 10 minutes and remove them the same way you put them in… carefully.
This step can be time consuming. I only had a dozen jars to can, and four at a time was all I could put into my pot. Once you take the jars out, put them on a towel to dry. I wait about 15 minutes or so and press the center of the lid to see if it has sealed. If you can still push the lid up and down, you need to immerse the jars into the hot water bath again until they do seal. If your jars do not seal, you must refrigerate the jars.
I was lucky and only had to redo a couple jars. Hours later, my husband and I could hear the jars “popping” as their lids sealed into place.
There are recipes galore to be found for canning. To me, this was an excellent way to preserve some of the vegetables I had grown in the garden. A bit old fashioned maybe, but I have the best memories of my mother-in-law teaching me how to can years ago. After all, some things never go out of style do they?