Monday, July 18, 2011

Mmm...Mmm...Sweet Pickles

One of the first things I tried to row when we moved to the country 8 years ago was cucumbers. Little did I know, six cucumber plants would yield enough cukes to feed a small army and since I was totally ignorant to any type of preservation methods at the time, I gave what I wasn't able to use in my restaurant away. Needless to say, I gave away BAGS and BAGS of cucumbers and learned that 3 plants would provide enough cucumbers for just about anyone.

Fast forward a couple of years, I met a wonderful woman who would become my best friend, Charlene J...a.k.a. Charney.  Here I was, this New York, Italian gal transplanted to the country and about as green as they come. Charney took me under her wing and started teaching me all things country. I taught her a few Italian tips and tricks and she made sure that I'd fit in here in our small country town. I don't get to spend as much time with Charney these days, but she is still my most precious friend and I try to expand on the things she taught me over the years. The most important being how to can fresh tomatoes. How can ANYONE who  has ancestors who come from Italy, ever make sauce without fresh canned tomatoes?  I will forever be gratful to Charney for that lesson and for inspiring me to expand on my canning talents.

So, fast forward again to Garden 2011. I planted 4 cucumber plants, the kinds used for pickling and while the plants took over the "vining plants" section of the garden, I set out to find a scrumptious sweet pickle recipe for my husband. He likes sweet pickles. So today I'm going to share my first Sweet Pickle Canning experience with you.   Here we go...

Quick Sweet Pickles

May be canned as either strips or slices. 
8 lbs of 3- to 4-inch pickling cucumbers
1/3 cup canning or pickling salt
4-1/2 cups sugar
3-1/2 cups vinegar (5%)
2 tsp celery seed
1 tbsp whole allspice
2 tbsp mustard seed
1 cup pickling lime (optional - for use in variation
below for making firmer pickles) 

YIELD: About 7 to 9 pints 
PROCEDURE: Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16 inch off blossom
end and discard, but leave 1/4 inch of stem attached.
Slice or cut in strips, if desired. Place n bowl and
sprinkle with cup salt. Cover with 2 inches of crushed
or cubed ice. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. Add more ice as
needed. Drain well. 

Combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, allspice, and
mustard seed in 6-quart kettle. Heat to boiling. 

Hot pack -- Add cucumbers and heat slowly until vinegar
solution returns to boil. Stir occasionally to make sure
mixture heats evenly. Fill sterile jars, leaving 1/2-
inch headspace. 

Raw pack -- Fill jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add
hot pickling syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust
lids and process as below or use the low temperature
pasteurization treatment described on page 5. 

Variation for firmer pickles. Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/6-
inch off blossom end and discard, but leave 1/4-inch of
stem attached. Slice of strip cucumbers. Mix 1 cup
pickling lime and 1/2 cup salt to 1 gallon water in a 2-
to 3-gallon crock or enamelware container. CAUTION:
Avoid inhaling lime dust while mixing the lime-water
solution. Soak cucumber slices or strips in lime water
solution for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove from lime solution and rinse and resoak 1 hour in
fresh cold water. Repeat the rinsing and resoaking two
more times. Handle carefully because slices or strips
will be brittle. Drain well. 

Recommended process time for QUICK SWEET PICKLES
in a boiling-water canner


                     Process Time at Altitudes of            

Style      Jar       0-          1,001-       Above          

of Pack    Size      1,000 ft    6,000 ft     6,000 ft       

Hot        Pints or  5 min       10           15             


Raw        Pints     10 min      15           20             

           Quarts    15          20           25             

STORAGE: After processing and cooling, jars should be
stored 4 to 5 weeks to develop ideal flavor. 

VARIATION: Add 2 slices of raw whole onion to each jar
before filling with cucumbers. 

I found this recipe at:

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