Pickle Time

Connie surveying all of our hard work
Connie surveying all of our hard work

Inundated with cucumbers this summer, the cukes in my refrigerator reached critical mass and I had to do something about it, or we would be over run with them. I had at least 100 of them stuffed into every space in my refrigerator and I had already made cucumber salad, cucumber water, and everything else that you could throw a cucumber in just to use one more in an edible way.

Almost out of cucumber and lime water
Almost out of cucumber and lime water

I was planning on cucumber facials and cucumber gazpacho when I broke down and got together with some friends and made bread and butter pickles. Our neighborhood doesn’t do anything by halves and we ended up making a little more than 6 batches of pickles for a grand total of 46 pints!

Getting supplies together
Getting supplies together

To accomplish this feat, it takes team work, precision, and lots of sugar, vinegar, and spices.  The cucumbers were free, so our only expense were these items. And of course jars!

The mammoth task of slicing the cukes was accomplished with a steel mandolin that was brought to our pickle session by a professional cook.  This saved an enormous amount of time! And it sliced the cukes very precisely and evenly.

A mandolin slices the cucumbers in a few seconds
A mandolin slices the cucumbers in a few seconds

The onions were another matter.  Lots of tears were shed  slicing these babies by hand, but we changed places to minimize this side effect.  But by the time we had sliced up 12 pounds of onions, everyone’s eyes were watering as the fumes filled the kitchen area.

Christine and Connie checking for seals
Christine and Connie checking for seals

The spices were measured into individual bowls so they would be ready to throw into the simmering vinegar and sugar mixture.

Slicing onions are the worst!
Slicing onions are the worst!

Working in assembly line fashion, we sliced, mixed, and cooked and got it done in a couple of hours.

Mixing the sliced cucs with onions and salt
Mixing the sliced cucs with onions and salt

The process of making pickles is pretty simple (From the Ball Blue Book of Preserving)

  • Slice up your cukes (4 lbs) and onions (2 lbs), layer with salt, cover with ice and let stand for 1 1/2 hour.
  • Mix up your brine which is 3 c of vinegar and 2 c of sugar with your spices(recipe follows) in a large stove top pot
  • Spices: 2 T mustard seed, 2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp peppercorns
  • Bring to a boil
  • Rinse your cukes and onions thoroughly to rid them of salt
  • Dump this mixture into the boiling vinegar and sugar
  • Bring to another rolling boil and ladle into jars while hot
  • Process pints for 10 minutes in a hot water bath
Filling the jars with hot bread and butter mixture
Filling the jars with hot bread and butter mixture
Our huge mountain of washed dishes
Our huge mountain of washed dishes
Sue got the job of washing dishes!
Sue looking to see what needs to be done

 

Shelly working hard on the mandoline
Shelly working hard on the mandoline

 

There were 7 of us working and we divided up the pickles with everyone taking home at least 6 or 7 jars.

A pickling cuke hanging on the vine
A pickling cuke hanging on the vine

But the cukes keep coming, and coming……….

4 Replies to “Pickle Time”

  1. Sounds like a fun day in your kitchen….I too have been in the kitchen, however without a crew of friends….I have been making jam…and have made about 60 half pint jars of various jams…peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, and mixed fruit…the mixed fruit was a jam of all the leftover fruit of the above…and that make another 6 half pint jars….I love summer for that reason…

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