Spicy and Sweet, So Fun to Eat (and Make)
Howdy howdy howdy – Daniel Jr again. For Christmas this year Sherry got me a Guide to Preserving by Ball, along with some canning supplies. Best. Gift. Ever.
We made up a batch of bread and butter pickles a few days ago, and holy cow are they good! Better than any bread and butter pickle we’ve ever purchased at the grocery store. By far. By a mile.
Today we made up another batch, but this time we added some jalapenos for a bit of kick, and will be diving into those in a week or so.
The process is very easy, and if you find yourself with a few hours to kill, why not make up a few pints of these scrumptious goodies?
It took us about 3 hours start to finish to make up 6 pints of these delicious bad boys. If you’re wanting to make some, we’ve got the step by step for you.
I’m not going to go into great detail about prepping your canning supplies here. If you’re looking for more information on that please check out Ball’s excellent write-up – they literally wrote the book on canning.
For 6 pints, you will need the following:
- 4 pounds of cucumbers. We used big honking waxed cucumbers that were on sale, but typically you would use 4 to 6 inch non-waxed kirby cucumbers.
- 2 pounds of onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup pickling salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorn
- 2 teaspoons turmeric (wear gloves!)
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- 3 cups vinegar, 5% acidity
- 1/8 tsp per jar pickle crisp (optional)
- 2 jalapeno or other spicy pepper (optional)
- 1 bag ice
You will need 6 pint jars, bands, lids and a large bowl. NOTE – never ever reuse canning lids. They are a one-time use only affair. You can reuse the jars and bands. Replacement lids are cheap. We try and keep an extra dozen on-hand at all times should the canning bug bite us.
Step 1: Cut your onions and hot peppers
Cut the onion crosswise into thin slices, place in a bowl
If using spicy peppers, wash under cold water and cut however you like. I left the seeds in the jalapenos and cut into rings. Add the peppers to the bowl with the onions and cover (optional, but I hate to cry with all the onion fumes)
Step 2: Cut the cucumbers crosswise
Wash the cucumbers under cold running water and drain. For the big honking cucumbers I’ll cut a good half inch from both ends. If using the smaller kirby cucumbers you’ll remove the stem and 1/16 inch from the blossom end.
Cut the cucumbers crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. This is a LOT of cucumbers to slice up. If you have a mandoline slicer, now is the time to pull it out! With a mandoline you can use a wavy blade that gives the pickles the classic crinkle cut look. It’s certainly not necessary, but sure looks groovy.
A mandoline will also allow you to set the thickness of your slice, and provide consistency with the thickness of each piece, along with saving some serious knife time.
These suckers are sharp! Using one of these incorrectly or not paying attention to what you’re doing is a real easy way to win a trip to the emergency room after you slice the tip of a finger off. Above all, I HIGHLY recommend you use a protective glove when using a mandoline. It can be a real flesh saver.
Step 3: Salt and Chill
In a large bowl, combine the cucumber slices, onions and peppers.
Sprinkle the 1/3 cup of salt over the top and toss well. I’ve found that digging in with both (clean!) hands and tossing a half dozen times or so does a good job of mixing the salt with the veggies.
Cover the veggies with the bag of ice – told you that you would need a large bowl! I sprinkle a wee bit of salt, maybe a half teaspoon or so, over the ice to keep it super cold.
Let stand for 1 1/2 hours.
Step 4: Prepping the pickle spices
While the future pickles are chilling under ice, combine the the sugar, spices and vinegar in a large saucepan. Do not add the pickle crisp at this time! Do not turn on the burner just yet.
Let’s chat about turmeric shall we? Turmeric is an amazing spice, but this stuff stains anything it touches. Fingers and wooden stirring spoons are all fair game. My wife won’t let me touch the stuff unless I’m wearing disposable gloves. We have a huge 2 pound bag of the stuff, and it stays inside a large gallon Ziploc bag for storage.
Once you have your pickle spices in the saucepan you can begin heating up your canning supplies, which brings us to…
Step 5: Prepping your canning supplies
Wash your jars, bands, lids and canning tools in hot soapy water, rinse well and place in your canning pot, bringing the temp up to 180F. Do not boil yet!
If you have a bbq thermometer it comes in handy to monitor the temperature of the water to ensure it’s hot enough, but not too hot.
Depending on the size of your canning pot and the heat output of your stove top it can take quite a while to bring the water up to temp.
We just picked up a 21 quart pot, and it takes a good half hour to bring it up to 180F. Covering with the lid will help speed things along.
Step 6: Rinse, repeat, repeat
After the future pickles have been under ice it’s time to rinse.
You’re going to rinse the bejeezus out of these to get rid of the salt. I do three full rinses under cold water, starting with a colander. Then back to the large bowl fully submersing under cold water, back to the colander, bowl, colander, bowl, colander. Whew!
Step 7: Time to cook!
Bring your spice mixture in the saucepan to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the cucumber mixture to the pot and bring back to a boil. It’s going to take a bit as the future pickles are quite cold from the ice bath. Once you have a full boil turn off the burner and remove pan from heat.
You’re almost there – now comes…
Step 7: Can the pickles!
A canning funnel is your best friend for this next process. Keeps things MUCH less messy.
Using a ladle, pack the hot pickles and liquid into a hot jar, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace (the space between the top of the jar and the liquid). Don’t be stingy with the pickles – fill those jars up!
If you’re using pickle crisp now is the time. Add 1/8 teaspoon to a pint jar.
Remove air bubbles.
Clean the jar rim using a damp cloth.
Center lid on jar and adjust band to fingertip-tight, then place jar on the rack elevated over simmering water.
Repeat until all jars are filled.
Lower the rack into simmering water. IMPORTANT: Water must cover jars by 1 inch. Adjust heat and bring to a rolling boil, using lid. Boil pint jars for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes.
Remove jars from pot; do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours, then check the seals.
You’ll hear a distinctive ‘pop’ sound as the lids form seals. It typically starts within 10 to 15 minutes after we’ve removed the jars from the pot, but can take longer. If they haven’t sealed after 12 hours you can place the jar(s) in the fridge.
We’ve been lucky – we’ve yet to have a jar that didn’t seal. Hoping that trend continues!
The pickles will be ready to eat after 4 days, even better after a week, and fantastic after 2 weeks.
Let me know how yours turn out!
Happy canning, and thanks so much for reading!