I canned ten pints of bread and butter pickles the other day, along with a quart and a pint of tomato sauce. (Subsequent batches of sauce will be larger as the tomatoes are now ripening at an alarming rate….)
But never mind the tomatoes. This post is about pickles.
I’ve made many batches of fermented dill pickles with the pickling cukes we’ve been growing this year, but those disappear about as quickly as I make them. I wanted something that would linger a bit. These sweet, tangy chips were just the thing. We’ll mainly use them on burgers (beef or otherwise), or chop them up and make quick relish for hotdogs. We tend to eat the dills and use the bread and butter pickles in this house.
Now, we’ve got a garden. Or gardens. And we grow a lot of vegetables. But we don’t always have a TON of the same thing ripe at the same time. That’s why small batches of fermented dills worked well – we’d pick the 8-10 cukes that were ripe and I’d start them fermenting. By the time we had more cucumbers the right size, the first batch was ready to move into jars in the fridge.
But for canning in quantity, I had to get help from the farmers’ market. I bought about 6 lbs of pickling cukes there the other day, and those, plus whatever we had ripe at the time, gave me enough to make one and a half batches of the recipe.
So, first, I needed 15 cups of sliced pickling cucumbers. It goes without saying (though I’m saying it anyway) that you want to pick the freshest, best (blemish-free) produce you can find.
When you’re slicing, do your best to keep the slices the same thickness, so they cook at the same rate. No need to use a ruler, though. Just eyeball it and don’t chop too quickly.
This was only 10 cups of cucumbers. I decided I might as well use up all the cukes, so I kept chopping, and ended up with 15 cups. I had to move everything to a bigger bowl.
Next up, onions. The recipe called for 4 medium onions to go with 10 cups of cucumbers. I used 3 pretty big onions for 15 cups.
I sliced them thinly and as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t cry.
I mixed these with the cucumbers in a bigger bowl…
and measured out 3/4 of a cup of salt. I used kosher. The recipes call for pickling or canning salt, but I didn’t have any and neither did the store I went to. So I used kosher.
I poured that over the chopped vegetables and mixed everything together with my hands.
And then I added enough cold water to cover everything.
And then I had to let the cukes and onions sit in their brine for two hours.
(While they brined I canned the two jars of tomato sauce. It helped pass the time.)
Okay, two hours have elapsed, time to get pickling.
I poured vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and ground turmeric in a big pot and brought them to a boil.
While I waited for the boil, I drained and rinsed all the cukes and onions. They still look pretty much the same.
Still waiting for the boil…
Once the liquid boiled, I poured in the vegetables, stirred everything together, and brought it all back up to a boil.
Now, while all the food stuff was going on, I washed and simmered all the jars and lids and had them ready and waiting in pots of extremely hot water. I also had the hot water bath canner ready and waiting.
Once the pickle ingredients were at a boil, I ladled them into jars, put the lids on, tightened the bands, and put them in the water bath.
Not too much later…
That was just some of them – I did another three jars after I took this picture.
After the jars had cooled for 24 hours or so, I removed the bands, wiped the rims, labeled them, and put them in the pantry.
Except one jar.
I put that one in the fridge.
How are they?
I might need to make another ten jars….
And in case you want to make a few jars yourself, here’s the recipe as I made it (and based on the recipe in Ball’s The Complete Book of Canning and Preserving)
If you are new to canning, I urge you to buy a good book about canning and preserving and follow the instructions about how to prepare your jars, lids, etc.
If you only have a small amount of pickles, but still want to make these, without worrying about canning them, just follow all the steps prior to ladling the pickles into jars. Instead, allow the mixture to cool, then ladle it into jars or a big bowl and store in the fridge. The pickles will keep for about three weeks, but I bet they’ll be gone long before then.
Okay, enough of my chatter. Here’s the recipe:
Bread and Butter Pickles
(Makes about 10 pints)
15 cups sliced, trimmed pickling cucumbers
6 medium onions, sliced thin
3/4 cup pickling or canning (or Kosher) salt
4 1/2 cups white vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
What to do:
1. Combine cucumbers and onions in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Add salt and mix well, then add enough cold water to cover. Let the pickles-to-be luxuriate in their brine for two hours. (While the pickles brine, it’s a good time to prepare your jars and lids and other canning tools and equipment. Just a suggestion. No pressure.)
2. Toward the end of the two hours, place vinegar, sugar, mustard and celery seeds and the ground turmeric in a large stainless steel pot and start heating them.
3. Drain the cucumbers and onions and rinse with cold running water. Drain well.
4. Bring the mixture in the large pot to a boil, add in the cucumbers and onions, mix well, and bring the whole thing back to a boil.
5. Pack the vegetables in jars, followed by the hot pickling liquid, making sure to leave a good half inch of head space. Use a thin rubber spatula or the handle of a wooden spoon to eliminate air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth. Center the lid on the jar and tighten the band until “fingertip-tight” (just tight enough).
6. Place the sealed jars in your canner, make sure they care covered with water (I like to have about an inch of water above the jars). Cover the pot, bring water to a full, rolling boil, and process for ten minutes. Shut the heat off, remove the pot lid, and let the jars sit in the water for another five minutes.
7. Remove jars from the water, let them cool, (listen for the “pop” of the lids), label, and store.