I’m in the middle of moving into our new house, cleaning out the old one and developing the basement. But it’s August and that means I MUST make pickles! I’ve tracked my canning costs in the past, and homemade pickles are more expensive than grocery store pickles, but the flavour of homemade pickles is indescribable. So much better than store bought!
I bought the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving a couple of years ago, and my copy is beat to hell, dog eared and written on. This week I made the bread and butter recipe. I buy pickling cucumbers in 8lb bags from the farmers market, so I’ve adjusted their recipe for that quantity. I don’t understand why someone would go through the effort of pickling just to make 4 or 5 jars – I like to make them in huge batches. A five hour stretch of pickling usually results in at least 30 500mL jars.
Bread & Butter Pickles
8 lbs pickling cucumbers
3 medium onions, thinly sliced (more or less depending on your preference)
1 1/2 cup pickling salt
9 cups vinegar
6 cups sugar
6 tbsp mustard seed
3 tsp celery seed
3 tsp turmeric
Wash cucumbers, scrubbing lightly with a soft vegetable brush. Rinse well in cool running water. Using a mandolin slicer, trim and discard the end, then slice cukes to your thickness preference.
Combine cucumber slices, onion slices, salt and water in a large bowl. Mix well. Cover and let stand for 2 hours.
Bernardin suggest you prepare your canning jars by keeping them in simmering water in your canner, while your new, unused lids (not the screw bands) are kept in hot (not boiling) water while you prepare the liquid. I never do this – instead I run the jars through a super hot rinse cycle in the dishwasher and keep the lids in hot water. Your preference.
Fill your canner with water and bring to a boil. Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed and turmeric in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Drain cukes and onions and rinse well. Add to to vinegar mixture and return to a boil.
Pack pickle mixture into a hot jar to within 3/4 inch of top rim. Add hot liquid to cover pickles to within 1/2 inch of top of jar. Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, by adding more pickle mixture and hot liquid. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Set aside until they’re all filled.
Put jars in canner. Ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and return water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. I process the jars for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and turn off the element for a further 5 minutes.
When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours.
After cooling check seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.