A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My own pickle factory!

Every year I make three kinds of pickles; refrigerator, sweet and dill.  The three recipes are all keepers and have encouraged many requests for the recipes.

Refrigerator Pickles - The recipe below the picture came from my sister Sally Jack.  Her recipe was a bit too sweet for me; so my recipe below uses a cup less sugar.  I prefer the sweet/sour taste of my recipe.  If you like them sweet, just add a cup more sugar to the recipe.  Both recipes have pickle-fan approval!

A small dish of these makes a satisfying low-fat snack.
8 cups sliced cucumbers
2-3 cups sliced onions
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
2 cups water
1 TBlsp canning salt
1 TBlsp celery seed
--Put sliced cukes and onion in large jar. Mix rest and pour over. Keep stored in refrigerator. Should be ready in a week or so. (will freeze)
Bread and Butter Pickles (sweet):    Whenever I take them somewhere, I am always asked for the recipe--it's my most often-requested canning recipe. 
Many folks are pleasantly-surprised at how much they like these!
(even if they claim to not like sweet pickles)
**Note**Since the jars for the following pickle recipe will be in the boiling water bath for less than 10 minutes, they need to be sterilized first. Just put them in pot of water, bring to boil and boil 10 minutes. I turn off the heat (after boiling) and leave the jars in the hot water until I'm ready to fill them.
Note:  For extra crispy slices, combine cuke slices, onions and garlic in large pot.  Cover with cracked ice and a sprinkling of salt; mix well.  Let sit 3-5 hours.   Remove garlic, rinse and drain well.   OR
(easy-peasy)  add a small chunk of carrot to the canning jar.    
4 quarts sliced, unpeeled medium cucumbers
6 cups thinly-sliced onion
3 cloves garlic
cracked ice (optional for "crisping" cucumbers)
5 cups sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 TBlsp mustard seed
1-1/2 tsp tumeric
1-1/2 tsp celery seed
several small pieces of raw carrot (optional)
--In a large cooking pot, combine cuke slices, onions, garlic.  Mix rest of ingredients, except carrot pieces, and pour over cuke mixture.  Bring all to boiling.  Before packing jars, add a small carrot piece or grape leaf to the bottom of the jar.  (This keeps pickles crisp.)  Pack cucumber mix and liquid into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of top of jar.  Put on lids and bands.  Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes for pints or half-pints.

Dill Pickles:  My dill pickle recipe is an old standard.  I keep going back to it because I haven't found one I like better (and I've tried lots!) 
Perfect Combo: a picnic and a jar of dill pickles.
Ingredients:  This makes 5-6 quarts
8 pounds of 4" pickling cucumbers
12 heads fresh dill 
6 tsp mustard seed
2 quarts water
6 cups vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canning salt
6 large cloves garlic
small chunk of carrot (This will keep pickles crisp.)

Put the canning pot on the stove filled halfway with water.  Place the canning rack on the sides of the pot (not submerged in the water) with the canning jars upside down on the canning rack.  (If you are not using a canning rack, submerge the jars in the water.). Turn the stove on to boil the water.  Later, when the water comes to a boil, I turn off the heat and let the jars sit.  If the jars cool before being filled, turn the heat back on.  Meantime, make the brine in a sauce pan on stove using the water, vinegar and canning salt.  While brine is coming to a boil, prepare the cucumbers as follows:  Rinse cucumbers.  Leave 1/4" stem on and cut off 1/16" of blossom end.  In each hot jar, put a teaspoon of mustard seed, the garlic and 2 heads of dill.  Then fill with cucumbers and one small chuck of carrot, leaving 1/2" headspace (to top of jar).   Pour hot brine over cucumbers, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Submerge the jars in the hot water so that the water covers the jar by at least 1-2".  If necessary add hot tap water to achieve this.  Put the lid on the pot, turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat.  Take off lid and let sit for a few minutes, then remove jars to cool.  As they cool, you will hear the lids pop to form a seal.  After they are cool, remove the screw bands and wipe the jars down.  Store in cool, dark place (not meaning refrigerator).  Check jar lids before storing by depressing center of lid--it should not pop up and down.  If any are not sealed, store them in the refrigerator. Store at least one week before opening.

dilly beans, onion relish, pickled garlic, relish

Pickle Relish or Pickled Veggies:
9 cups chopped, diced or ground veggies--any ratio/combo of:  cukes, corn,  cabbage, carrots, onions, peppers, gr.beans, tomatoes, garlic, celery
4 cups vinegar, white or cider
3 cups water (1 less cup for vinegary to your liking)
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (taste after 1/4 cup, then add more to taste)
Optional seeds for added flavor:  mustard seed, dill seed, celery seed
  (approx. 1 TB of any or each)
Mix and heat to boiling.  Pack into hot jars (pack veggies down until liquid covers).
Run knife around edge to remove air bubbles.  Process in boiling water bath 10 min.


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