Saturday, July 24, 2010

We're in a Pickle

-ing state of mind around here. Oh, did you think I meant something else? While we've made the decision to cut back on canning this year in the event that we end up moving sooner than later, there are a few "staples" we don't want to be without this winter. One of those is kosher-style dill pickles. This year, we added a little extra garlic, extra peppers and lots of fun. Kent helped me with the canning. We stopped by Heinies Market on Wednesday and they had beautiful pickling cucumbers. So we bought two 20# boxes along with a couple bundles of fresh dill. The car smelled heavenly on the way home. Especially when you throw a bag of ripe plums in the mix.

If you live in the Denver vicinity, I can't say enough about Heinies cucumbers. Forty pounds of cukes and not a bad one in the bunch. Not even a bad spot. I was impressed again this year. Here I am at the sink trimming and cutting cucumbers into spears. Here's a tip, make sure you cut off the blossom end of the cucumber as not doing so can make them turn out soft. And if you know the science behind this, I'd love to know.

We cut them into spears for the kosher dills. I'm opposed to pickling whole cucumbers only because you do not get as much cucumber in each jar.

And another trick is to use more firepower when working with large canning pots. Here we have set the gas stove we bought for power outage emergencies on the marble topped baking table. We opened all the windows for ventilation and this made the difference between water boiling in 10 minutes or 50 minutes. Plus, two super-sized pots fit on it at once. This also let us reserve the stove burners for the lids and bands and the pickling liquid.

We used the cold pack method, using hot jars, room temperature veggies and then a hot water bath. Every single jar sealed and the next six weeks will seem like a long wait to taste this years batch. Aren't they pretty!?

We used 29 of the 40 pounds and the yield was 27 quarts and 1 pint. At that point we had used all of the fresh dill. It worked out great.

But what of the 11 remaining pounds? We thought we should try some spicy sweet pickles. This was a new one for us. We'd had some store-bought we liked called Famous Daves. We found a recipe for sweet pickles and then added dried hot peppers, one to each pint. It's an experiment. And just to be different, we cut these into slices.

Kent manned the liquid portion of the packing. He did such a great job with filling to the proper level, wiping rims clean and tightening just right that every single jar sealed up beautifully.

We got 17 pints out of the remaining 11 pounds of cucumber. We had exactly enough slices to fill 17 pints and that was also exactly how many pints would fit into our two canners at one time. I love it when a plan comes together. (Has anyone seen the A-Team movie, BTW?)


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