With our garden in full swing out in the backyard, we are up to our ears in cucumbers. When we got our plants back in May, I have no idea why we thought four cucumber plants would be a good idea for a garden for two. Thankfully, one of them died last week from the intense heat we've been having. We couldn't keep up with them!
I don't really know many ways you can cook cucumbers, or how many times a day we would have had to eat them in order to keep up. Cucumbers for breakfast, lunch & dinner just didn't sound too appetizing. Here's a tip: When life gives you tons of cucumbers, make pickles.
Here's what you need:
Cucumbers, distilled white vinegar, jars, a pressure canner, seasoning, & sugar if you make sweet pickles (not pictured).
This is the seasoning we used.
Mrs. Wages was recommended to us by Gentry's aunts. I found it in the small canning section in the baking aisle at our Kroger.
How to can pickles:
First, I got all the cucumbers together.
Then I sorted them by size. I put the thinner ones in one pile, and the thicker ones in another. I used the thin ones for the chips, & the thick ones for the spears.
Then I began cutting up the chips.
I put the chips for the bread & butter pickles into jars.
Then we mixed up the seasoning packet according to its directions. This is where the sugar came in. We used the packet, sugar and vinegar for this part. Do not use an aluminum pot. Apparently there can be a chemical reaction... according to Mrs. Wages, who knows her stuff I'm assuming.
Mix it all up until it comes to a boil. Then I ladled the mix out into my glass measuring cup to make pouring easier, & poured it into the jars.
This mix is very sticky. The seasoning packet said to wipe down the tops of the jars with a damp warm rag. Then get someone with strong hands to screw the lids on - Thanks G!
& into the pressure canner they go! Our canner said to fill the pot with 3 pints of water & 2 Tbsp of the distilled white vinegar (this keeps the jars from having spots on them).
Close the lid, making sure the arrows are lined up & it is sealed tight. Then turn the eye on high heat. Now wait for a steady stream of steam to come out of the vent pipe on top, & for the air vent/cover lock to pop up saying there is pressure inside. Once that happens, set the timer for 10 minutes. Then put the three-piece pressure regulator on top of the vent pipe & wait for it to consistently start rocking. Once that happens, set your timer for 5 minutes if you are cooking quarts, & 10 minutes if you are cooking pints. (All of these instructions were from the manual to our Presto Pressure Canner manual)
While the bread & butter pickles were cooking, I put together the dill pickles. For a couple of them, I added some minced garlic for my father-in-law who loves garlic pickles.
I also began mixing the dill pickle seasoning mix on the stove top while waiting for the bread & butter ones to cook. I poured that mix into the dill pickle jars & did the same process as I did with the others.
Once the 5 or 10 minutes is up for the pressure canner, turn the heat off & remove the pressure canner from the stove top & put it onto hot pads. Wait for it to start cooling down & for the air vent/cover lock to pop down, which means the pressure is done. Only then do you take the three-piece pressure regulator off the top. Then we waited for the tops to start popping inside. This means they are sealed. The pressure canner cooks them at a very high heat with intense pressure, making them sterile. Once that heats cools down & the pressure is gone, it creates a vacuum. This enables the cans to have a long shelf life.
Here are our bread & butter pickles:
I had no idea how any of this stuff worked a week ago. We visited Gentry's family in Ohio last weekend & I talked to his aunts about canning. I had no clue how it was done, but I knew it would probably be good to learn since we were going to have a ton of vegetables from our garden coming in soon. I'm actually really excited about canning more things. It was fun & pretty easy!
I plan on blogging instructions for canning other veggies. We have quite the variety growing strong in our back yard: corn, tomatoes, okra, banana peppers, bell peppers, potatoes, carrots, black-eyed peas, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, eggplant & butternut squash.
We plan on planting broccoli once it cools a bit outside.
I hope these instructions were easy enough!