Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Canning Day

I love pickles of all kinds. My favorites are always home canned because the flavors and colors are so much brighter. It is satisfying to open a can of homemade pickles, too, because you know where everything in the jar came from.

I spent a few hours canning some bread and butter pickles, garlicky dills, and some strawberry jam on Monday. I processed all three together since my water bath requires so much energy from my stove to bring to a boil. Also when canning I get into a rhythm so it is less work to do more in the same session versus canning small quantities each time over a series of days.

The strawberry jam was made from some left-over berries we bought fresh on Saturday. Most of the berries were used in a dessert later that same day. Since the berries don't have sulfates on them they don't keep more than two days. Canning some jam is a good way to preserve the wonderful fruits for later use. The cucumbers, peppers, onions and dill were purchased specifically for making pickles. Next year I hope to have my garden in so that the fruits and vegetables will come directly from our own land.

Here's the recipe for the bread and butter pickles that are nice snacking pickles. I also use them in mayonnaise-based salads like chicken salad for sandwiches. The juice is also nice in deviled eggs:

Crisp Bread and Butter Pickles

8 medium onions
2 large sweet red, yellow or orange peppers (green can be too herbaceous)
1/2 cup coarse Kosher salt
1 gallon unpeeled cucumbers sliced 1/4 inch
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon s each, ground turmeric and whole cloves

Slice onions thin. Cut pepper into thin strips. Dissolve salt in 1 cup water and pour over sliced vegetables, including cucumbers. Put some ice on top of cucumbers (use about 1 quart ice: it is the ice and salt that gives an almost brittle, crisp pickle). Let stand three to six hours, weighted with a plate: drain. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Add drained vegetables and heat to boiling point (don't boil). Pack in hot sterilized jars, filling to 1/2" from top; add lids, loosely tighten rings and process the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Make sure jars are sealed. Any that did not seal, refrigerate.

Makes 6 pints.

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