Y’all- we have so many cucumbers! I planted two kinds. The bigger variety sprouted up nicely but the mini cucumbers bombed- not a single sprout. In spite of that I have more cucumbers than I’ll ever need. The funny part is, I kept asking- “when am I going to get some cucumbers?” Well, they were hiding. My garden is so overgrown and crowded (not to mention the grass snuck back in)- the poor little cukes were hiding under all that mess. Unfortunately that meant they were not getting enough sun (chlorophyll)- so they are very light green- some even white. The good news is they still taste good!
Hubby eyeballed all those cucumbers and asked when am I going to make pickles…
So I started with refrigerator pickles. Basically it’s sliced up cucumber in a brine of salt, sugar and vinegar. Really they are just marinated cucumbers without the oil. They are pretty tasty but I worry I made too many.
Next time I make them I think I’ll omit the sugar. According to the recipe they last a week.
But we needed to make REAL pickles- like the kind you use a canner for. I started with Google and this is what I learned- water canning (aka an extra big pot with a lid) is for canning high acid content fruits like tomatoes, pickles, jams and jellies. If you want to can low acid veggies like green beans, peas- etc- you need a pressure canner (the scarier and more expensive pot). Also any kind of meat needs to be canned in a pressure canner.
I checked out Amazon, ready to just order from them instead of checking out Walmart. Glad I decided to check out Walmart before making my online purchase. It was waaay cheaper to buy the water canner at Walmart. We found a canner pot (which included the basket you can use to lift the jars out with), a canning tool set with the jar lifter, funnel, and some other handy items that I can’t remember the names of off the top of my head. We also bought pint jars and extra lids. You can reuse the jars and screw on rings, but the lids can only be used once in order to have a proper seal (muy importante!)”
I cleaned and sliced the cucumbers into wedges and made the brine. My dill didn’t come up in my garden so I had to buy some fresh dill. Unfortunately I didn’t realize I needed more so I had to be sparing with the dill when I added it to the jars. Apparently the dried dill I have in the spice cabinet shouldn’t be used because it clouds up the brine in the jars. Whole dill seeds can be used as well, but I didn’t have any at the time.
I spent all evening working on the pickles- there are so many steps! The jars have to be sterilized and then packed just so. There has to be ample head room (the pickling kit I bought came with a ruler to measure). I ended up taking the lids back off a couple of times because I forgot to remove air bubbles or I didn’t think the head room space was sufficient. The actual processing of the jars in the canner was the easiest part. After they were done I carefully lined them up on a kitchen towel on the counter. I was so pleased how they looked like real pickles.
Clean up took a hot minute. When I was done I sat in bed with a good book as it was almost bed time. Then I heard “pop”! I had a bad feeling so I got up to check on my jars. I heard another pop and checked the lids- most of them were bouncy- meaning when I pushed down they popped back up. I felt so defeated. I went to bed thinking I was going to have to reprocess them in the morning.
The next morning I checked the jars. No bouncing! The jars were all properly sealed! I guess they were just releasing pressure. I proudly put my jars away in the pantry. Lesson learned here- some things take practice and patience is key.
Next up is pickled okra!