Remember my need to research abit? Well, folks, I found out that I've been using the wrong cucumbers all this time. Turns out I should have been using pickling cucumbers, so that's just what I did. I met the nicest girl today in my quest to find good fresh cucumbers and green peppers. Tracy, the owner of the local CSA, gave me enough produce to make the small batch bread and butter pickles that I wanted. She looked like Mother Nature herself out in the field picking herbs to bundle for her CSA members' baskets. That was a nice way to start the day!
So back to making pickles ... I used my food processor to get uniform slices of the cukes and onions - quarter inch slice for the cukes and a thinner slice for the onions. Talk about saving time! How much do I love having a food processor? I was thinking about legions of farm wives slicing all those cucumbers and onions over the years ... it's painful to think about, folks. Better living through modern technology is what I say! Anyway, I also put two small hot peppers into the pickle mix along with green peppers. Sorry Mom, but I like a bit of heat to my sweet pickles. That's the only way I messed with Mom's recipe. So here it is ... if you want hot peppers, write it in!
... tucked up in ice cold salty brine
Making pickles is an exercise in patience. You get all the cutting done and then the pickles sit in a salt brine for hours, while you go putter at something else. Then, you drain then and they soak AGAIN! Go putter some more. Then, it all comes together fast. The sterilizing and finagling with the rings and lids, the boiling of the pickling brine and the fast simmer of the pickles in that spicy sweet sticky syrup. Into the jars, into the hot water bath, out on the counter, and 'listen for the ping'. I imagine those legions of ladies sighing and thinking, 'Done for another year! Now, on to the pickalilli.' What? You don't know what piccalilli is?
I'm not making piccalilli, though. Not me! I'm on to the tomato salsa!
Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes 8 pints
Wash and sterilize 8 pint-sized jars. Place them top down on a clean towel.
Heat rings and lids in a saucepan of water until just below the boiling point. Turn off the heat and leave them in the hot water until it is time to cover the filled jars.
Mix together in a deep stainless steel or glass bowl:
4 quarts pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced (10 – 12 cukes)
6 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced
2 medium green peppers, sliced thinly
Add to the above:
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
⅓ c. non-iodized/pickling salt
Toss everything together.
Cover with ice cold water and a couple trays of ice cubes, cover and leave for 3 hours.
Drain after 3 hours.
Cover again with ice cold water and more ice cubes and set aside for 1 hour more.
In a deep stainless steel or porcelain-lined pan:
3 c. apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
5 c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. turmeric
1 ½ tsp. celery seed
2 tbsp. yellow mustard seed
2 generous pinches red pepper flakes
Bring the mixture to a boil and let gently boil for 5 minutes.
Add the drained cucumber mix and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and pack into sterilized jars. Top off the jars with the pickling brine.
Wipe the rims of the jars and screw the rings and lids firmly into place.
Place in a deep boiling hot water bath and be sure the jars are covered by at least two inches of water.
Process the jars for 15 minutes at a boil.
Remove the jars to a clean towel lined counter and dry off the tops of the jars, checking to be sure the rings are securely screwed down.
Listen for the ‘ping’ of the jars making a safe seal (lids will be slightly depressed as they vacuum seal).
Cool the jars completely before storing them in a cool dark place.
... sealed, cooled, and ready for their close-up