For those of you that have been following my blog, you know that I’ve been dying to learn how to can! A few weeks ago I sent out a plea for a little old lady to teach me! I have to say, I was shocked (and touched) at how many people offered up their grandmas and aunts to me!
Well, I never did complete a canning apprenticeship with a little old lady. But, this past weekend, my mother and I decided we were going to take the bull by the horns and teach ourselves!
Our mission: turning 8 quarts of cucumbers into bread and butter pickles. Our game plan: consult every recipe and canning guide we could find.
Now, my mother had made bread and butter pickles once before — when I was a wee tot. So, we ended up following the recipe she used 30 + years ago. There were very specific notes on this recipe, such as bringing the pickles to a boil over medium heat. But, do you have any idea how long it takes 10 quarts of cucumbers and brine to boil only using medium heat? Let me tell you…a LONG, LONG time! Enough time to play a few quick games of jump rope with my son and the neighbor kids!
I guess, back in the day, this is the time when the women on the house, would whip up a few loaves of homemade bread. I wish I had that time. Unfortunately, as a (full time) working mother, I don’t have that luxury. I have 1 weekend afternoon, between birthday parties and loads of laundry.
But, I always find time for cooking — it’s my thing.
6 cups (4 quarts) Kirby cucumbers, sliced thin
6 medium white onions (6 cups), sliced thin
2 bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup granulated pickling salt
5 cups sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp tumeric
1 1/2 tsp celery seed
2 Tbsp mustard seed
Combine cucumbers, onions, peppers and garlic in a large bowl. Add salt; cover with ice. Let stand for 2 hours. Drain well.
Combine sugar and remaining ingredients. Put drained cucumber mixture into a large (at least 10 quart) stock pot. Add sugar mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
In the meantime, prepare 10 pint canning jars. Heat jars, lids and bands in simmering water.
Once cucumber mixture comes to a boil, fill jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Put on lids and bands. Process in boiling water bath for 8 minutes.
Is it a Keeper?
I won’t really know for sure how they turned out because the pickles need to sit for 6-8 weeks. But, I didn’t want to wait that long (as I’m quite impatient) before reporting back. But, I’m feeling pretty confident that they’re going to be just right!
We kept a small dish of our pickles out for sampling. And, I have to say that they were pretty darn good! You know how a certain scent can immediately take you back in time? As soon as I smelled the pickles cooking, I immediately went back in time (in my mind of course) to when I was a little girl. I remember that my mother used to serve them to me with grilled cheese! Perfect!
My mom and I are quite proud that we took the bull by the horns and taught ourselves how to can pickles! But, the best part is, we did it together. It was an experience that brought back old memories and created new ones! Turns out, I didn’t need a little old lady after all! Just like Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, I had what I needed all along!
PS…My mother threatened me within an inch of my life if I dared refer to her as a “little old lady”!
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