It's what I've been doing all summer while not attending to my blog.
I've learned a lot! I've learned that when you overfill canning jars they erupt in your canner and then you have a mess plus not enough liquid in your jars. I've learned that I should definitely plant less cucumbers next year. And as a result, I could make bread & butter pickles in my sleep.
And they are soooo good! WAY better than dill or sweet in my opinion.
And I now have enough to give them away plus have plenty for myself.
Oh, and since I thought you'd be interested, here's a bunch of stuff I picked which necessitated the making of pickles:
Yup, that's bunch of tomatoes, a zucchini, and 6 cucumbers. And believe it or not, my cucumbers are slowing down. In previous weeks I'd pick 8-13 cucumbers in a day and 4-6 zucchini.
Now you know why I haven't been around!
So lets get down to business with the cucs shall we?
Slice approximately 7 cups of cucumbers and 4 onions and place them in the largest bowl you own.
Cover them with 1/2 a cup of canning and pickling salt. This is important, regular salt won't dissolve properly.
Cover completely with water and let it soak for at least 2 hours. While they are soaking you can prepare your canning jars, rings and lids. This will make 5-7 pint size jars so I usually prepare 8 just in case.
Once the soaking is done rinse completely. I rinse mine in small sized batches to make sure I get all the salt water off.
Then I set up my stove. The small pot in the back has a little bit of water and lids set to low heat until simmering. The front left pot has 3 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of sugar, 2 Tbs. of mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon of celery seed and 1 teaspoon of tumeric. Cook this until it comes to a boil and the sugar is disolved. On the right front burner is my steamer canner (it's the same as a water bath only it steams, you can use a regular water bath).
Once your pickling solution comes to a boil you can add your veggies. I do small batches at a time using veggies I've just rinsed.
Return them to a boil. Once it starts boiling they're done! Easy peasy!
Remove your pot of goodies from the heat and start filling jars with a slotted spoon.
As I do this I often stop and sort of gently bang the jars on the counter to shake them around a bit and get the veggies to compact.
When I'm done with a small batch my solution looks like this. And I put it back on the stove on med-high heat until it returns to a boil. Then I add more veggies, boil, fill jars, etc.
Once the veggies are all cooked and the jars are all filled I top them off with spoonfuls of pickling solution. You want to leave a generous 1/4 inch headspace.
Run a knife around the jars to release any air bubbles. Add more solution if needed.
Then a VERY important step! Take a wet rag and wipe the rims of the jars. If you don't, the lids won't seal and you will have done all that work for nothing.
You guessed it! Then you add the lids. I have a handly little magnetic lid lifter that came in a box of canning supplies. They're not necessary, you could just use tongs, but since I have it I'm using it.
Place the lids.
And then put the rings on. You want them to be "finger tight". My definition of that is only twist with the tips of your fingers, don't use your whole hand to get it as tight as possible. I do put them on tighter than my mom, she barely screws them on. The good news is that we both have successfully preserved food so I don't think it's that big of a deal.
Put the jars in your canner. Use manufacturers directions on whichever canner you have. Remember, canning is not just cooking, it's science. So it's important to follow the directions precisely.
For mine I need to wait until steam comes out of those little holes on the side before I start my processing time. And I never really knew how HARD it was to take a picture of steam! This was the best I could do. :P
Process them for 10 minutes, after that my canner needs to sit off the heat for 3 minutes. And then Voila! Preserved pickles!
Lift them out of the canner using that cool lifter tool from your canning supplies box.
Let them set for 24 hours, and delight in the music of popping lids! That's the sound that means "I'm sealed!".
After 24 hours, any lids that aren't sealed (you can test them by pushing in the middle of the lid, if it gives it isn't sealed) just toss them in the fridge and use them within the next week or two.
I know some of you said that you might participate this week in Mystery Spice Monday, and that's AWESOME! But I still haven't figured out how to do the new Mr. Linky (it's on the to do list!). So if you have a recipe to share please post your link in a comment and I will add a permanent link to the bottom of this post. Thanks for your understanding! :)