Inundated with cucumbers this summer, the cukes in my frig 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. (This post was originally posted five years ago)
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!
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. If you don’t have a mandolin, you can slice them by hand.
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.
The spices were measured into individual bowls so they would be ready to throw into the simmering vinegar and sugar mixture.
Working in assembly line fashion, we sliced, mixed, and cooked and got it done in a couple of hours.
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, leaving 1/2″ head space for expansion
- Process pints for 10 minutes in a hot water bath
We process the pints in a large pot on a propane burner outside to keep the heat outside!
There were 7 of us working and we divided up the pickles with everyone taking home at least 6 or 7 jars. Teamwork makes the job easier.
But the cukes keep coming, and coming……….
Next step is dill pickles!