Nik has been in charge of the garden this year. The whole kit and caboodle. All the tilling, planting, weeding, and harvesting. I think I helped him weed once. His main focus was on beans and peas and saving seeds. So I didn’t expect much if anything to have for canning and putting up.
One morning Nik brought me in a small basket of cucumbers. Too many to eat, too few to can. I figured we could make quick refrigerator pickles. Two, maybe three jars tops. I took my time cleaning up the kitchen and piddling around for a while. I suggested that he go out and make sure there were no more cucumbers because I only wanted to do this once. So out he went with a basket. Next thing I know he’s coming to the door with a full basket and tells me to empty it because he’s going to need it again. And again, and again. His grin got bigger and bigger with each basket he brought up. I swear he was basking in my misery! I didn’t plan on spending the day doing a full blown canning session! His giddiness was disturbing.
We ended up with a giant pile of cucumbers for pickling.
So much for 2 or 3 jars and quick refrigerator pickles. But I wasn’t about to waste them. I gathered my handy dandy Ball Blue Book Preserving Guide and my trusty Bread and Butter Pickle recipe and got busy.
I gathered supplies for dill pickle spears first.
I didn’t have any pickling spice so I mixed up some of my own. You can get the recipe here.
I had quite a bit left over so I put it in a jelly-sized canning jar for later use. Or maybe I’ll use it on the woodstove this winter, it’s woodsy and aromatic. Sure hope it tastes as good as it smells. I’ll have to let you know on that one. I’d sure be really disappointed to find out I spent all this time on dill pickles to have them turn out grubby. Not going to think about it. I love pickles, they couldn’t be that bad!
Once the pickling spice was made I sliced the washed cucumbers up into spears. I used all the larger-sized cukes for this.
I combined 4 cups of sugar, 4 Tbsp salt, and 12 cups of vinegar in a large pot. I tied my spices in cheesecloth and added it to the mixture. I brought it to a boil and then let it simmer for 15 minutes.
Place the spears in a quart-sized canning jar, fill with hot vinegar mixture, add a fresh (or dried) dill head, and leave 1/4” headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe around the rim, add lids, and Walaa!!! You are now ready to process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
I cut my smaller cucumbers into thick slices. Then I added some thinly sliced onions,1/3 cup of pickling salt, and a few sliced garlic cloves to a large glass bowl. Mix it all together and let it chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Drain well. In a large Dutch oven, combine 4 cups of sugar, 4 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp of mustard seed, 1 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1 1/2 tsp celery seed. Add your onions and cucumber slices and bring to a boil. Pack into quart-size canning jars, leaving 1/2” headspace, remove air bubbles, wipe your rim, add lids, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
By dinnertime I had 30 quarts of homemade pickles.
Not too bad for one days work. I figure we have enough pickles to last us a good year, maybe more. If things get really bad, we always have something to eat. What’s for breakfast? Pickles with a rice cake. What’s for lunch? Duck and pickles. Dinner? Duck and pickles with beans. Snack? Leftovers. Yep, we’re good to go. Oh – to mix it up I still have some beets from last year! Woohoo!!!
I almost forgot – thank you Nik for our bounty of pickles! Couldn’t (and wouldn’t with the price of cucumbers) have made them without you!