Tuesday, July 20, 2004

In a Pickle

I bought too many cucumbers last week.  They were so beautiful and there was such a good deal if you bought three pounds.  So I bought three pounds and managed to lug them home, but didn’t quite get around to eating them all.
I started looking around on the web for refrigerator pickle recipes and found this one, which sounded very easy.  The quantities were right too.  It also provided instructions for canning the pickles, so after a little deliberation I decided I might as well can them.  I’ve canned three times this summer and I must say, I think I’m getting over my fear of canning.  Actually, “fear” is too strong a word – it’s more of a feeling that canning is difficult.  Well, it’s not.  You bring a big pot of water to a boil, stick your filled jars in there, bring the water back to a boil, and leave them in there for a few minutes.  You pull them out, they go “ping” (music to a canner’s ears!), and you’re done.  Now the only thing that holds me back is a reluctance to steam up my kitchen on a hot summer day.
I don’t know much about canning, but I have read enough to pick up this:  a canning recipe is probably not something you want to mess around with too much.  You have to worry about acidity and such – not because of the flavor, because of your health.  Only certain types of foods (pickles, jams, etc.) are suitable for canning in a hot water bath.  Lower acid foods need to be canned in a pressure canner.
Now that I think about it, picking up recipes from unknown sources on the internet (like I did), may not be well advised either.  The Food Lover’s Guide to Canning, gives this guidance regarding pickle recipes, "If you tamper with recipes at all (and we don’t advise it), use the following rule of thumb:  Every pint of pickles you prepare should include at least ¼ cup of vinegar and/or other acidifiers just as strong in acid content."

The recipe I used was particularly easy because of the small quantities.  Slicing 4 cups of cucumbers takes no time at all.  There is a 3 hour wait after you salt the pickles, so you do need to plan for about 4 hours from start to finish.

After salting the cucumbers and onions, there's a 3 hour wait

I just opened up one of the jars this evening and the pickles are quite good.  I think they’ll be even better once they’re chilled.  They taste much like the bread and butter pickles my Mom used to make back when she had more cucumbers than she knew what to do with…


Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

I love pickles, and these look really good. Let me know how they taste after about a week and the flavor really starts to set in. Did you use any peppercorns or dill in this at all?

Cathy said...

Hi Reid - I only used the McCormick mixed pickling spice. I wouldn't be surprised if it had peppercorns in it, but it definitely has no dill.