Canning is a natural extension of the results of a successful summer garden. One of the wonderful things about ‘natural, local and sustainable’ being embraced by so many restaurants is that pickle plates are popping up on menus and every one of them has a unique twist.
Inspired by our experiences, we started canning several years ago so our garden evolves a little bit every spring based on our nerve to try things we might not have considered. Our favorites tend to be beets, carrots, beans, and garlic. The garlic was originally a nod to my mom who is a huge fan of The Garlic Lady’s habañero pickled garlic. I’m not as daring as my mom or husband regarding spice but I do enjoy the milder version.
The bread and butter pickle recipe below has been used to make sliced pickles, speared pickles and speared carrots. The idea to try carrots came from a topping available at Muchas Gracias in their condiment area that’s made on-sight daily.
For a more in-depth look into canning, Washington State University’s Extension program has excellent classes taught in Brush Prairie by Master Food Preservers trained through their program.
Bread and butter pickles
6 lb pickling cucumbers (4-to 5-inch)
8 C thinly sliced onions (about 3 lb)
½ C canning or pickling salt
4 C vinegar (5%)
4 ½ C sugar
2 Tbsp mustard seed
1 ½ Tbsp celery seed
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
About 8 pints
Procedure. Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16 inch off blossom end and discard. Cut into 3/16-inch slices. Combine cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Add salt. Cover with 2 inches crushed or cubed ice. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours, adding more ice as needed. Drain. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Boil 10 minutes. Add cucumbers and onions and slowly reheat to boiling. Fill pint or quart jars with slices and cooking syrup, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and use conventional boiling-water canner processing.
Variation for firmer pickles. Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16 inch off blossom end and discard. Cut into 3/16-inch slices. Mix 1 cup pickling lime and ½ cup salt to 1 gallon water in a 2-to 3-gallon crock or enamelware container.
Caution: Avoid inhaling lime dust while mixing the lime-water solution.
Soak cucumber slices in lime water for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from lime solution, rinse, and resoak 1 hour in fresh cold water. Repeat the rinsing and soaking steps two more times in fresh water. Handle carefully-slices will be brittle. Drain well.
Variation, squash bread-and-butter pickles. Substitute slender (1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter) zucchini or yellow summer squash for cucumbers.
Storage. After processing and cooling, store your jars 4 to 5 weeks to develop ideal flavor.
Recipe courtesy of A Pacific Northwest Extension Publication Picking Vegetables
My notes: The basic procedure is good for sliced pickles. The procedure for firmer pickles would be used for long pickle spears, zucchini or yellow squash spears. Additionally, we use this recipe to pickle carrots and they make a wonderful addition to an afternoon appetizer plate.