Clearly, I’m trying to deal with some of my back-log, thus back-to-back “A New Dish a Week” episodes. This week in our share, we got about 3 pounds of small cucumbers– I saw them and thought, PICKLES! Rather than waiting like we normally do, we went straight home to work on them. The result is 4 pint sized mason jars of sandwich stacker style pickles! YUM!
12-16 Small Cucumbers (our farm has pickling cucumbers they’re not the waxy smooth kind you get at the store)
1 Tablespoon Sugar2 Cups Vinegar
2 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Pickling Salt (We bought our’s at ACE Hardware)
Fresh Dill (or dried if that’s all you have)
Garlic Cloves (we used 1 large clove per jar)
Small Sweet or Spicy Peppers (mini sweet or jalapeno depending on your choice/availability)
Anything else you’d like to try out in your pickle jars!
4 Pint-Sized Mason Jars
4 Flat Lids and Screw Tops for Mason Jars
Canning Clamp (used to pick up the hot jars)
1 Large Canning Pot (you can typically buy one for canning at ACE or other hardware stores as well as online)
Kitchen or Other Hand Towel
1. If you have a mandolin slicer and want to slice your pickles sandwich stacker style, I suggest using the mandolin slicer (WITH GLOVES ON PLEASE!) Mandolin slicers are awesome but soooo sharp!!! We have a pair of heavy duty gloves that you can wear to take things out of the oven too… seriously don’t mess around with a mandolin! We used the medium straight slice for our pickles. Slice a small sliver off of each end of the cucumbers before slicing into strips.
2. Place a small layer of cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle well with salt. Add another layer of cucumbers, followed by salt. Continue until all are layered. The sale will help suck out some of the liquid. We usually drain ours a few times (over about 15 minutes).
3. You can follow whatever canning method you’d like. I’m not saying mine is the best, it’s just what works for us! We placed the four jars (clean of course) into the canning pot and filled with water (The jars and the pot to about the lip of the jars). Heat to medium heat (boil is not necessary here).
4. While the pickles are “salt soaking” prep your herbs, peppers, garlic, and any other add ins. We simply pealed our big garlic bulbs and separated the cloves (they are seriously HUGE). We then took the tops off of the herbs/seeds/peppercorns that we’re using just to be ready. We also had two small sweet peppers that we cored and thinly sliced (these are more for color than flavor).
5. Once everything is ready, your jars are in a warm bath and your cucumbers have been drained a few times, place the vinegar, water, pickling salt, and sugar in a sauce pan and heat on the stove until boiling.
6. While the vinegar mix is cooking, it is also good to place the flat lids into a pan of water and put it over medium heat- this helps with soften them up for better canning.
7. While the vinegar mix is cooking, carefully remove your jars from the water bath and place whatever “mix ins” you want in the bottom of the jars. Pile it all in there- be generous! Next, do a quick water rinse of your pickles to get rid of any excess chunks of salt and then pack those suckers into the jars. Pack them as tightly as you can and fill the jar as much as possible.
8. Once the vinegar mix is boiling, use the canning funnel and slowly pour the vinegar mix into each jar (leaving about 1/2 inch room from the top of the jars.
9. Using a spatula, remove any air bubbles from the pickle jars- it works well to slide a small spatula down the sides and press against the cucumbers. You may end up needing to add some more liquid to the jars.
10. Next, place the flat lids onto the jars (they shouldn’t be toooo hot if you kept them warm but not boiling).
11. Next, put the screw tops on the jars, tightening only to fingertip tightness. The point of this is to secure the flat lids while allowing air and what not to escape.
12. Place the jars back into the canning pot. Pour in enough water to cover the jars about an inch or so.
13. Cover the pot and turn the heat up. You want to bring the bath up to a boil. Side note- I realize that you can’t see through the pot, so you will have to pick up the lid to see if it’s a rolling constant boil yet a few times.
14. Once the boil is constant, set your timer for 10 minutes (this will be different depending on what size jars and which canning directions you are following).
15. When time is up, carefully remove the jars and place on a kitchen towel to cool off. Let them sit for about 24 hours. If they have canned properly, the seals will be firm and the “poppy” part in the center of the lid will not “pop.” If you’re lucky, you may even hear the jars sealing (sounds sort of like opening a snapple bottle).
*Disclaimer: If you have a good canning book, follow the canning directions inside. We used Ball– well known and good results. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with ingredients/spices! Part of the joy of these projects is trying new things. They’re not all winners, but they’re always fun 🙂