Making pickles is easy. It is a form of preserving foods...using vinegar and sugar, then canning in a hot water bath. It is important to use fresh as possible fruits, and the vinegar must be at the very least 5% strength...for success. Most vinegars, cider, and white, are usually sold at that percentage. Also, remember when salt is called for, to use canning salt, kosher salt, coarse salt, anything but table salt.
If you buy any squash, other than a farmer's market, like, at the grocery, you MUST use a vegetable brush and scrub fairly hard-not enough to remove the skin..but a really good scrub, because they have a light wax coating on them, and that prevents any pickle ingredients from penetrating and pickling well. The waxed coating is used to make the produce look good, plus it protects the skins a bit, during transit.
You can make pickles anytime of year, as long as you have the produce! Many times, in my neck of the woods, there is always a good deal on food stuffs. around January...and I make a lot of "mixed pickles".
I will give you a lot of recipes, but remember, canning rules apply, for hot water bath, and watch the canning times at the end of each recipe. You have an imagination, you can make pickles!
Some one asked for sweet pickle that does not get mushy. Mushy pickles happen when the vegetable is too old, not enough vinegar has been used, or the right strength, or sugar. Also using the wrong type salt will do it too. Some people swear by using pickling lime...I have used it a few times and really did'nt care for it.....it is used mostly in making crock pickles, but can be used in regular recipes too.
SWEET PICKLE SPEARS
4 lbs. cucumbers
3 3/4 c vinegar
3 T canning salt
4 t celery seed
4 t turmeric
1 1/2 t mustard seed
Slice ends from cucumbers and cut into spears(no need to skin).Cover with boiling water, let stand 2 hrs(gets the bitterness out).Drain, and pack spears into jars. Bring all remaining ingredients to a boil, pour over spears to a 1/4" head space. Process 10 mins in hot water bath, yields: 10 half pints. (you can also make this into pints if you want, same processing time, or qts., add 5 mins to processing.
Remember, recipes can be suited for what produce you have, so you have 2 lbs cukes, divide the rest in half, or you have 6 lbs. add - not everyone always has the amounts a recipe calls for..I seldom do. I do a lot of math during canning time!!! I looked this particular recipe up, and found it in 3 of my books, each book is 50 yrs apart from publishing date! I have made these always, the first sweets I do in the season, and I was surprised to see it is a standard type sweet. The soaking in boiling water plays a big part in the cucumbers staying crisp...
PICKLED GREEN CHERRY TOMATOES
(for those that have a plant...for the fall when all they are are green!!! They look like olives when pickled, and taste like sour dill....good in salads.)
1 pint green cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 t dill seed
1/4 c white vinegar
2 t canning salt
1 t mustard seed
Wash tomatoes, pack in jars, add garlic clove, and dill seed
combine vinegar, salt, and 1/2 c water in sauce pan. Bring to a boil,pour into jar, 1/8" head space. Water bath- 10 mins. Yields, 1 pt. ( you increase the ingredients, for the amount cherry tomatoes you have-you can put just this one pint in the fridge, and they will be ready in a week to eat.)
BREAD and BUTTER PICKLES
4 lbs. cukes, cut into thin slices (the neat thing with pickles..is you make them the way you like them!!! Sometimes I make chunks and not slices)
2 lbs. thinly sliced onions
1/3 c canning salt
3 c vinegar (the same goes for vinegars..if you like cider better than white, then use that.)
2 c sugar
2 T mustard seed
2 t turmeric
2 t celery seed
1 t ginger
1 t peppercorns
Combine cucumbers and onion in large bowl, layer with salt, cover with ice cubes, cover with a cloth, let stand 1 1/2 hrs.(crispy!!)
Place remaining ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Drain the onion/cuke mix, add to the liquid, and return to just a boil.
Pack jars leaving 1/4 " head space. can, 10 mins, yields: 7 pints.
I would pack the onion, cuke mix first, then cover with the liquid.
NOW, you say, I ran out of liquid!!!! It does happen......so...I keep a pot of hot water on the stove, simmering.....fill your jars best you can with your vinegar mix, if you think you will be a little short....even the liquid out between the jars, then top all the jars off with the water....you should not use TOO much water...or it will dilute your pickle!!! MUSHY!!!! Sometimes, I will make a half batch of the vinegar mix...to have at the ready.....in the end, when I am done filling and canning.......if I have at the very least a pint, or quart of the vinegar mix leftover, I can that too! For next year!! Just lable it so you know which pickle it goes to, sugar is not cheap!!! So try to save it if you can.
QUICK PICKLED VEGGIES
(when you have odds and ends, or find them cheap...)
2 c cauliflower florets
2 c 1/2" thick cut carrots
2 c 1" thick cut zucchini
1 c 1" cut squares green pepper
1 c 1" cut squares red pepper
2 springs fresh tarragon( or 2 t dried)
2 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c white vinegar + 3/4 c
2/3 c sugar
1 T kosher salt
2 t mustard seed
Wash and cut all veggies. Combine in a very large bowl.......Bring liquids and spices to a boil, reduce to a simmer, for 10 mins. Bring to a boil again and pour over veggies. Stir well.
Put in a large jar or several jars, let cool, then store in the fridge. stir each day, ready in 3 days.
This is a "fresh" pickle..ready to eat. more or less. You can can these...the difference would be you need to dissolve the salt in the water, pour over the veggies, then let stand...about 14 hrs...because
there are so many types veggies involved...then proceed as usual and water bath can- 15 mins. for pints.
VARIATIONS ON A THEME......of the above pickle
1 qt. 1" cucumber slices
2 c 1 1/2 " celery slices
2 c peeled pickling onions (some call them "lightbulbs")
When I do variations, like this, I will add like a t more of spice, and a T more of salt....smidge more sugar and vinegar too....a lot has to do with how much product you have to begin with..if you have ALL the above vegetables....for both pickles, then it would be 1 c salt, 4 qts. water, 2 c sugar, 1/4 c mustard seed, 6 1/2 c vinegar, - remember tho..the increases are if you hot water bath....the water and salt increase is for the soaking period. Just to make and put in the fridge, follow the regular directions....I like to make these as a "fancy" pickle..notice the different colors, and the different types cuts, to give shape presentation!!! People will just admire you for these and they are so simple to do!
Why pickle just a vegetable!! Now you can try using pickling lime! Cantaloupes need help!!!
1 qt. water
6 c melon balls ( or cubes)
1 1/2 t pickling lime
2 1/4 c cider vinegar
1 1/2 c water ( I know....2 waters mentioned...!!)
3 c sugar
2 1/2 t whole cloves
1 1/2 t broken whole cinnamon stick ( I never really did this..I just broke up a 6" stick! I mean , WHO measures a broken stick?!)
Stir the water ( first one mentioned), and pickling lime together in a stainless or ceramic, bowl.Let stand for an hour...lime will not dissolve completely.
Meanwhile, prepare your melon balls..using a "melon baller", or small scoop. Be sure you have cleaned all the seeds and membranes out first. You can also cut them into 1 " cubes.
Ad the melon balls to lime mixture, stir well, cover with a cloth, let stand 5 hrs. Drain off solution, rinse well with cold water, stirring gently, do this 3 times in a row.....no one wants to taste lime!!!
On the final rinse (number 3), cover them ONE MORE TIME with fresh cold water and let stand 3 hrs. The drain them in a big colander.....lime is all gone and melons are firm.
Combine vinegar, water, sugar,in a big pot, tie cloves and cinnamon stick in a spice bag( cheesecloth), and drop in, stir well, bring to a boil over med. heat,cover, reduce heat to simmer, for 5 mins..
Add the melon balls, bring to boil again over med heat, cover, reduce to a bubbling simmer, and cook until melon is semi translucent around the edges, and feel firm/ tender with a fork- about 1 to 1/12 hours. The timing for this stage has a lot to do with how ripe the melon is, or is not.
Remove from heat, discard spice bag. Spoon melons into pints, or half pints, cover with the syrup, 1/2" to 3/4 " head space( this is one of the few times you see a choice-has to do with the melon size...Hot water bath, 15 mins, either size jar.
Now..this looks like a lot...but it is something special only YOU can do !! And besides..while you are waiting on the soaking, etc...you can be getting set-up for canning, read a book, make some cookies!! Never a lost time in the kitchen!
My notes from last year, 3/4 of any size watermelon makes 6 1/2 pts.
Rind of one large watermelon. You need to remove all the pink..eat it! Or use it for watermelon jelly- and all the green-you want ONLY the white, that is between the two layers.. Cut into 1" cubes(I sometimes do strips...cubes get boring!). And soak overnight in salt and water solution- 4T salt(canning) and 1 qt. water. Drain the next day..do not rinse. Make a syrup of 8c sugar,4 c vinegar ( over the years I found white to be the best),8 t whole cloves,16 sticks cinnamon ( 4" will do), and 1 t mustard seed. Tie spices in a bag. Heat syrup and spice to a boil and , then let set...15 mins(off the fire, covered). Add melon rind, and bring to a boil again, reduce to a bubbling simmer...simmer until rind is transparent.(note..watermelon is transparent, cantaloupe is translucent).
This could be about an hour...hour and a half..keep an eye on it...then pack, leave a 1/4" head space. hot water bath, 10 mins.
I make these is half pints as these ARE special..and a little longer to make....but are so good!
Someone asked about an apple pie filling that was not so sweet...I do not can just apple pie filling.....we get so many apples at one time, I do not have the time to do that....I can apple slices....in a very light sugar syrup- you cannot get around canning anything without sugar..but you can do a very light syrup...when I want to make a pie, I drain the apples and use them..adding my spices and such as I go along.....it would be, 1 c sugar, to 2 c water.
Someone also asked about canning poultry, which I do not do..but I can tell you about the people I know that have done it...they had farms! To begin with, and large families, and LOTS of poultry. If you are looking to can just certain types poultry, pieces of it, and you do not have a lot of it...you are better off freezing..as pressure canning it is a very long tim..example: a quart or pint, or any cut, is 85 mins in a pressure canner.....now, to me, trying to be economical, that is NOT money saving! A freezer is better..even if someone gives you2 or 3 whole chickens.....freezer is still the best route. Now, if you want to add meat and poultry to a soup or stew.....you are still looking at 85 mins in the pressure canner, as you can the time, for the longest food you are mixing.... Canning meats only pays off..if the quantity over whelms the storage...if you have a small freezer and you get a side of beef....!
I am not sure if I have answered all the questions that were asked on pickles......if you can grow it, buy it, you can pickle it!!! ANYTHING! Yes...anything..pickled corn....pickled onions, pickled okra....pickled pig's feet......anything. So...if you want a recipe for something, I am sure I have it, or have made it....just ask! I wanted to give you 2 basic pickles and 2 special ones..I do have another style recipe for cantaloupe pickles not using the lime..and zucchini pickles, pickled peppers, you name it..!!!