Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Canning Cucumbers, Part 1: Sweet Pickle Chips

Yet another reason why I love this time of year: people sharing the bounty from their gardens. I mean, isn't that such a nice gesture? We joke about people unloading all their extra zucchinis on neighbors, but I think it's nice.  Like the lady in my mom's neighborhood who gave her eight pounds (eight!) of pickling cucumbers a few days ago. Free homegrown produce? Sweet!

Until this latest endeavor, Mom and I had never canned pickles. Never. But seeing as we had to do something with all those cucumbers, we decided to give it a go. Hooray for learning and trying new things, right? So, I took the kids up to my parents' house (hence the different setting for all the photos in the pickle posts -- I even used my dad's camera) for the day and we canned a bunch of cucumbers  I'm happy to report that pickle-making isn't too difficult. So, for the next couple posts, I'm going to share the recipes and techniques we used to make pickles.

Pickle Post #1: Sweet Pickle Chips

I'll be totally honest: I'm not a huge fan of sweet pickles. I don't hate them, but I definitely don't seek them out. But my mom likes them. Plus, she has this childhood memory of eating homemade sweet pickles with a neighborhood friend when she was a kid and she's always wanted to try making her own. My motivation for me to make these: they are an ingredient in my grandma's potato salad recipe (ridiculously good).

This recipe we used was one of the simplest we found (we found it on Many recipes for sweet pickles call for a ton of spices and seasonings. While this one had only a few ingredients, the results were quite tasty.  Mom says they're as good as the ones her neighbor made all those years ago.

Sweet Pickle Chips
- yield: 6 pint-sized jars -

4 lbs. pickling cucumbers - washed, blemishes removed, stems and blossom ends removed

Brining solution:
1 quart distilled white vinegar
3 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. mustard seed
1/2 cup sugar

Canning Syrup
1 2/3 cup of distilled white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp. whole allspice
2 1/4 tsp. celery seed

{Note:  I don't know if we reduced ours too much during the cooking process or what, but we ended up having to make extra canning syrup. This may or may not be the case for you, but I think it'd be a good idea to have enough of the ingredients on hand to make another batch, if necessary.}

Once your cucumbers are washed and the ends have been trimmed off, cut the cucumbers across into 1/4 inch slices.

In a large pot, mix together the ingredients of the brining solution. Add the cucumbers and stir.  Cover the pot and let the cucumbers simmer in the brining mixture for about 5-7 minutes, until the cucumbers lose their bright color and look more dull. 

While the cucumbers are cooking, make the canning syrup by combining the vinegar, sugar, whole allspice, and celery seed. Heat mixture in a saucepot until the syrup comes to a boil.

Once the cucumbers are done cooking, drain. Pack the cucumbers into the hot pint-size canning jars (again, we ended up using 6 pint-size jars).  Cover the cucumbers with the hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles by running a rubber spatula around the inside of the jar, between the cucumbers and the jar, moving the spatula up and down. Adjust lids and bands and process for 15 minutes (be sure to adjust for altitude and add on extra minutes, if necessary).

1 comment:

Heather Dixon said...

I think if I ever planted a garden, that's what I'd do it for--to give away to neighbors and things :)

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