How To Make Great Sweet Mixed Pickles

017Sweet Mixed Pickles  remind me of Fridays when I was a kid.  Every Friday, my Mom made grilled cheese sandwiches for our lunch and they were always served with store-bought sweet mixed pickles.  I remember the pickles tasting good, but there was often a squabble between siblings over the minimal cauliflower florets and pearl onions.  Well I’m here to tell you that there will be no fighting at this City Boy’s home between dutiful son & endearing daughter because our mixed pickles are chock full of cauliflower florets and pearl onions!  So if you are interested in making your own sweet mixed pickles, I urge you to give this recipe a try.

Makes 10 Pint (500 ml) jars.

Ingredients:

6 lbs.. pickling cucumbers (4 quarts/approx. 40 pickling cucumbers)

2 lbs. pearl onions (5 cups), outer skin removed

1 cauliflower head

1 cup  pickling salt (Don’t use table salt.  It will cloud your liquid and turn your pickles to an unpleasant color.)

16 cups cold water

3 1/2 cups pickling vinegar

2  1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tbsp.  mustard seed

1 tsp. celery seed

1/2  tsp. turmeric

Directions:

Add pickling salt to the water and stir until dissolved in a large bowl.  This may take a bit of stirring because the salt will not dissolve as readily in cold water.

001

Weigh, wash and gently scrub all cucumbers.  Discard any cucumbers that appear spoiled.

004Cut approximately 1/4″ off of each end of the cucumber.  It is essential that you at least cut  the blossom end (not stem) because there is an enzyme at this end which will make your pickles turn mushy and possibly unsafe to eat.  The blossom end is located on the right side in the above picture.

Cut your cucumbers into 1/2″ slices and place them in the large bowl.

Rinse pearl onions and soak them in hot water.  This will help loosen the outer layer that must be removed on the  onion.  I know this is a huge pain in the butt, but it will be worth it in the end!  Remember…no more fighting.  Place the onions in the same bowl.

Wash and cut the cauliflower into small florets.  This too must go into the really large bowl.006

Keep the vegetables in the brine for 2-3 hours, occasionally giving it a stir.

With about a half an hour left of brining, fill your canner up with water about 2 inches higher than the height of your jars and bring the water to a boil.  This will take a bit of time.

Sterilize your jars in the oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit  for 10 minutes and continue to keep them warm in the oven until they are needed.003

Place canning seals and rings in a small pot and begin to warm them up.005

In the mean time, combine sugar and vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil.

Place spices into a piece of cheese cloth and tie.  Place this bag in the liquid when it begins to boil.

Once the 2-3 hours of brining is complete, drain the vegetables into a colander.  Fill the bowl with fresh water and rinse again.

Put the drained vegetables into your large simmering pot and bring the ingredients up to a boil.014

Using a canning funnel, pack your mixture into your canning jars, leaving 1/2″ head space.  I found it easier to fill all the jars first with the “solids” and then distribute the liquid after.016

Using a non-metal utensil, remove the air bubbles from the jar.  Add more liquid to the 1/2″ head space level if required.

Wipe the lip of each jar with a wet paper towel.  This will ensure that no residue is left on the lip of the jar which will prevent a good seal.

Using tongs, place your seals and rings on each jar.

Using canning tongs, carefully place each sealed jar into the canner and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.025

Using the canning tongs, carefully remove each jar from the boiling water and leave to cool on a rack.

Soon you will hear the successful ping of each jar as it seals.  Now tuck those babies away in the cantina or cold cellar until the colder months when you’ll need a reminder of the summer!  If you can’t wait until then……just give them a few weeks to flavor!017 - Copy

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Bread & Butter Pickles

015From what I have read, Bread & Butter Pickles originated in the Great Depression.  Since times were tough and meat was a luxury, thrifty folks came up with tasty alternatives for sandwich fillers.  On of these alternatives was the cucumber.   This vegetable was easy to grow and was successfully pickled so that it could be enjoyed in the non-growing seasons.  So….maybe the name came about  something like this…… “Hey Ester, what are we havin’ for lunch?”, said Wilbur.  “Well, since you ain’t got no job and you lost the pig in that card game…….all’s I got in the cellar are some sweet pickles from last summer.   Be happy that you got two slices of bread and a bit of butter to go with it.  Now eat that pickle sandwich before I take this skillet to your head!”    “Mmmmmmmm, said Wilbur.  That’s a mighty tasty sandwich.”  “Hey Ester, whad’ you call these there pickles you got in this here sandwich?”……  “I don’t know, you old coot.  Call’em whatever you want”. Well, in that case, I’m gonna’ call “em Bread & Butter Pickles!”……….And that’s how these pickles got their name.  Well….that’s the story I’m sticking with!

These pickles are easy to make and follow the general canning guidelines of most pickles.

Makes 5 Pint (500ml) jars.

Ingredients:

3 lbs. pickling cucumbers

3 medium onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup  pickling salt (Don’t use table salt.  It will cloud your liquid and turn your pickles to an unpleasant color.)

6 cups cold water

3 cups cider vinegar

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 tbsp.  mustard seed

1 tsp. celery seed

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp.  turmeric

Directions:

001Weigh, wash and gently scrub all cucumbers.  Discard any cucumbers that appear spoiled.

002Cut approximately 1/4″ off of each end of the cucumber.  It is essential that you cut  the blossom end (not stem) because there is an enzyme at this end which will make your pickles turn mushy and possibly unsafe to eat.  The blossom end is located on the left side in the above picture.

Cut your cucumbers into 1/4″ slices and place them in a large bowl.

Thinly slice 3 onions and place them in the same bowl.

Add pickling salt to the water and stir until dissolved.  This make take a bit of stirring because the salt will not dissolve as readily in cold water.  Add the solution to your cucumbers and onions  and let it rest for 2 hours.  I occasionally give it a stir during this time period.004

With about a half an hour left of brining, fill your canner up with water about 2 inches higher than the height of your jars and bring the water to a boil.  This will take a bit of time.

Sterilize your jars in the oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit  for 10 minutes and continue to keep them warm in the oven until they are needed.003

Place canning seals and rings in a small pot and begin to warm them up.005

In the mean time, add brown sugar, cider vinegar and spices into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally.006

Once the 2 hours of brining is completed, drain the cucumbers and onions into a colander.  Fill the bowl with fresh water and rinse again.

Put the drained cucumber and onion mixture into your large simmering pot and bring the ingredients up to a boil.

Using a canning funnel, pack your mixture into your canning jars, leaving 1/2″ head space.  I found it easier to fill all the jars first with the “solids” and then distribute the liquid after.012

014  Using a non-metalic utensil, remove the air bubbles from the jar.  Add more liquid to the 1/2″ head space level if required.

Wipe the lip of each jar with a wet paper towel.  This will ensure that no residue is left on the lip of the jar which will prevent a good seal.

Using tongs, place your seals and rings on each jar.

Using canning tongs, carefully place each sealed jar into the canner and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.025

Using the canning tongs, carefully remove each jar from the boiling water and leave to cool on a rack.

Soon you will hear the successful ping of each jar as it seals.  Now tuck those babies away in the cantina or cold cellar until the colder months when you’ll need a reminder of the summer!  If you can’t wait until then……just give them a few days to flavor!023