Cucumbers were our bumper crop this year. We only planted one small bed, approximately 3 feet by 7 feet, but we sure have produced a lot of cukes! We put up 11 pints as Bread & Butter pickles a couple of weeks ago and are processing 9 pints of Dill pickles today. My Presto pressure canner doubles as a water bath canner but is not tall enough to process quart jars. So until we add a deep water bath canner to our cupboard, we are limited to pints for all water bath recipes.
Since I had never made pickles before, I used the book of recipes that came with my Presto canner when I made the Bread & Butter pickles. We won't know for sure how well they turned out for another few weeks as you are supposed to let pickles age for 4 to 6 weeks after you make them. We have our sample jar already in the refrigerator and will let you know if the recipe is worth posting. It smelled good and looks good in the jars, so I'm hoping.
I use three of the four burners on my stove when I make pickles. One deep kettle for heating and sterilizing my jars and lids, one deep saucepan for making my pickling liquid and, of course, the big canner. I can only heat and sterilize two jars and approximately four lids and rings at a time. So it's a constant assembly line process to keep everything hot and moving. Before I start packing jars, the pickling liquid is boiling, I have four hot and sterilized on the counter and two more in the water. The canning rack is already in the bottom of the canner and the water is hot and very close to boiling. The jars need to be packed while they're hot, so it's important to put two more in the boiling water every time two jars were removed.
This is the recipe we used today.
6 pounds 4-6 inch cucumbers, cut in thin spears
4 small onions, diced
3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
9 cups water
1/2 cup canning salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dill seed
Combine cucumber spears in a large bowl and cover with ice. Add water to cover the cucumbers. Cover and let stand for 1-2 hours, then drain. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil.
By the time the pickling liquid is boiling, I have four hot sterilized jars lined up. Put diced onions in each jar, just enough to cover the bottom. Then pack the jars with cucumber spears. Add another tablespoon of diced onions on top of the spears, then use your jar funnel to ladle the hot liquid into the jars. You need 1/2 inch of headspace in each jar, so the contents including the liquid should be approximately at the bottom of the threads on the jar. When all four jars are filled, carefully wipe the rims with a clean cloth, center a clean, sterile lid on top and adjust the ring finger tight. Do not over-tighten. I don't know what happens if you tighten the lid too much, but absolutely everything I've read on canning cautions against it so I try really hard not to.
Bring your next two jars out of the boiling water and place two more jars in. When the second set of jars has boiled for five minutes set them up and retrieve your lids and rings. Continue this process until you run out of cucumber or you run out of jars, whichever comes first.
When the last jar is filled, turn the burners off on the sterilizing kettle and the pickling liquid and crank up the heat on the canner. Using the jar lifter, carefully place your jars in the canner. My canner will hold up to seven but I usually end up processing two batches and just split the jars evenly. For the 9 pints I made today, I processed the first batch with 5 jars and the second batch with 4 jars. Make sure the water level in the canner is approximately 1 inch above the tops of the jars and bring it to a rolling boil. Place the lid on the canner, reduce the heat slightly to maintain a boil but not boil over and start timing. These pickles were processed for 15 minutes.
These will have to age for 4 to 6 weeks just like the Bread & Butter pickles, so it will be at least September or October before we know how well they turned out. If they all turned out well, we probably have enough pickles to last us for a couple of years and we won't even plant cucumbers next year. We like pickles but 20 pints is a lot!
Labels: Common Sense, Food, Pure Prepping