Summer’s bounty is upon is and it is a glorious thing! The Farmer’s Market is literally bursting with fresh produce. I got carried away at yesterday’s White Rock Local Market and brought home a sweet little basket of pickling cucumbers with no idea of actually making any pickles. The I looked at my very most favorite sweet pickles in the fridge and to my horror found the second ingredient is HFCS! (High Fructose Corn Syrup) Ack! Why must my favorite things be polluted with this crap? Whywhywhy? Well, I guess there really was a reason I brought home those cukes after all! Good thing pickles are a cinch to make! If you want more ideas or info, do a search on YouTube for Alton Brown and Pickles. Good stuff!
Fast & Easy Sweet Pickles Yield: 4 pint jars
6 c. cucumbers or watermelon rind or zucchini or whatever veggie strikes your fancy, sliced into 1/4″ slices
1 medium yellow or red onion, thinly sliced
1 sweet red bell pepper or a cup of cherry sweet red bell peppers
4 red jalapenos, cleaned out and cut into long strips (optional, of course!)
1/2 c. kosher salt- It MUST be kosher salt as iodine will discolor the pickles
1 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. white vinegar
2 c. filtered boiling water
1 t. whole mustard seeds
1/2 t. celery seed
1/2 t. ground dry turmeric
1 1/2 c. cane sugar
1 whole clove
1 T. whole peppercorns
1/4 t. ground cardamom
1/4 t. ground ginger
Optional: a couple tablespoons 100% natural Pickle Crisp (calcium chloride)
Sort cucumbers and discard any with blemishes. Wash thoroughly and slice into 1/4′ thick slices. You don’t have to be exact. Clean the peppers and remove the seeds and interior pithy stuff. Slice into long strips. Slice the onion into long strips as well. Put all the vegetables into a large bowl and sprinkle the salt over all mixing to make sure they are all coated. Let stand for two hours to draw out some of the moisture (to be replaced with pickling juice later!)
Meanwhile, combine the vinegars, sugar, water and spices and set to boil for 5 minutes over a low flame. Turn off the heat and let it sit.
Prepare the canning jars by washing thoroughly. I run the jars and rings through an extra hot cycle in the dishwasher. Separate the lids as they have a tendency to stick together in their package. Put the required number of lids into a small saucepan, cover with water and heat until the water is boiling. Turn off the heat.
Prepare your canning pot by filling it 2/3 full with filtered water and setting it over a high flame to boil.
Drain the salted vegetables and rinse well to remove excess salt. Pack the veggies into the prepared jars gently pushing the veggies down. Fill to within 1/2″ of the top. Pour the HOT vinegar-sugar solution over the tops of the veggies until full. let the jars sit for a moment. Take a slim flexible knife (or just use a butter knife) and slide it down the side to try and remove any trapped air inside the jars of vegetables. Top off the jars with the remaining vinegar mix. Sprinkle 1/4 t. Pickle Crisp over the top of the vegetables. Being sure the rims are clear of any food materials, put a hot lid on each jar and screw down firmly.
Place jars into boiling waterbath. The water will likely quit boiling as the temperature of the jars will lower the overall temperature of the waterbath. When the waterbath once again reaches a gentle boil, set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the pickle jars from the boiling water and set out to cool. I always check to see that the lids did not slightly unscrew during the waterbath at this point. Sometimes the jars may need an extra quarter-turn. As the jars start to cool, you should start to hear the popping of the lids as the seals are set. You will know the jars are sealed as the center of the lids will be sucked down- in other words, you won’t be able to push the center of the lid down if they are sealed. If they are not sealed, you will be able to push the center down with your thumb. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal. Let the remaining jars finish cooling and then gently wash the jars before storing in a cool dark cupboard. Why? There is a small transfer of fluids during the waterbath; therefore, a small amount of sugar is coating all the jars.
Now tell me, when you look at your jars of canned goods all lined up, doesn’t a wonderful feeling wash over you? Yeah. That. 🙂