Our first batch of cucumbers came in, fast and furious, and, try as we might, we still couldn't gobble them up or give them away quickly enough, so right away, we took to making our bread and butter pickles. So easy. There are three things that I have to get to the same heat temperature, put them together and tah-dah...pickles!
The First thing I need to get to the right temperature of 212 fahrenheit (boiling temp.) is the pan of veggies in a pot on the stove with their spices.
The Second thing I need to have at boiling temp. is, all the lids, rings, funnel and utensils in a pan of boiling water.
The Third thing I need HOT (212 degrees) is clean, hot canning jars in the oven.
So, first slice the cucumbers...no measuring; just a big dishpan full, like so.
Slice three large onions, four if kinda small, add to the cucumbers.
Take two bell peppers and slice them, then slice those in half and peel a bulb of garlic, using all the cloves. (I take a wide cutting knife, put it on each clove, lean hard on it, then it's easier to peel them.)
I leave the garlic cloves whole and add them and the bell peppers to the cukes.
Next I add about four double handfuls of ice cubes, along with 1/2 cup of kosher or non-iodine sea salt.
I add the salt and ice cubes, then stir them all around either with a large spoon, or my hands, to get it all stirred in well, then let it sit for three hours, stirring them about every 15 min. or so, whenever I remember, lol. But they do have to be stirred, to get the ice and salt around and kind of evenly dispersed.
While I'm waiting and "lolling" around eating bon bons with me feet up (yeah, RIGHT) I put the spices into a large stainless steel pot. (spice recipe @ the bottom of this page)
I put all the utensils I'll need to assemble the jars. Everything that comes in contact with the jars, I sterilize. The rings, the lids, the food funnel, the tongs (to get the lids and rings out of the boiling water), the spoon that I'll used to get the pickles out of the big pot and into the jars. I'll put them in water on the stove at the ready...not heating yet, but ready.
I'll take the jars that I've first run through the dishwasher, put them into the oven at 212. It won't hurt them to sit in the oven hot and waiting.
After three hours,I turn the heat on for the pot of utensils and get them simmering, then I drain the veggies, and do not rinse them, but put them directly into the pot with their spices, then heat them to 212 degrees. I use a thermometer to make sure the pickles are at 212, so that all three things: veggies, jars and utensils are all at the same temp.
This is just me, I'm sure, but I am always nervous about getting burned, so I mentally practice how I'm going to put them all together before I start. I have the towels and pot holders laid out.
I take a towel, open the oven, carefully grab a hot jar, set it on the counter ON a towel(!), take the funnel, set it on the jar, put in a set of hot peppers, take the spoon and fill the jar with the pickles, take a lid with the tongs, put it on the jar, take a ring with the tongs, put it on the jar, take a towel, and screw the lid and ring on tight. Set it aside and repeat until all the jars are filled.
Boy, oh boy, I sure hope I have't made all this sound confusing, because it really is easy, fun and rewarding. Once you learn you 'can can' this way, you are SPOILT. It's too easy.
Okay, as promised, here's the spice ingredients.
3 cups of apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups of honey (I use raw...healthy)
2 Tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
2 teaspoons of whole cloves
1 Tablespoon of tumeric
I've gotten so many compliments for these pickles. Once I made them and saw how simple they were to make, I almost felt guilty for all the praise that was being lavished on me.
Have fun; give it a try and let us know how it all went, and how people can't get over how "really, REALLY good your pickles are!"