‘Fair’ly good bread and butter pickles
Special to The Union
I know, I haven’t written for a while, but the craziness has started for the kids in 4-H. It keeps us parents busy, and sometimes we lose sight of what day it is.
So with regard to that, this column will focus on the 4-H canning group’s bread and butter pickles along with its strawberry jam, which it made to enter into the fair.
I started around 8 in the morning using my food processor to cut the 25 pounds of pickling cucumbers and onions. They need to be sliced, iced and salted for three to four hours. I used a great plastic bucket to get them ready.
Next, I went on to cleaning the rest of jars they would need for the job at hand.
The group arrived at around 11 a.m., all seven of them. I had the brine boiling for them as soon as they walked in and we were rinsing the pickles and onions that had soaked for three hours.
The pickles and onions went into the pot of brine to boil for a little longer. The girls each took turns filling jars and placing the lids on them. I had each of them doing one thing at a time.
They knew that once the jar was filled, the rim needed to be wiped off before the lid and band were put on the jar.
They had their steps down and with a little reminding, the process went quickly
They managed to get 17 jars of bread and butter pickles done for their fair entry. They also made 25 jars of strawberry jam.
Well, Eryn finished the strawberry jam, while the younger girls went outside to run in the sprinkler and fill the chicken waterers.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad four hours. We got a lot accomplished and they had their product done for the fair.
So, here is the recipe that we used for our Bread and butter Pickles.
Bread and Butter Pickles
Yield: About 8 pints
6 lbs. of 4- to 5-inch pickling cucumbers
8 cups thinly sliced onions (about 3 pounds)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
4 cups vinegar (5 percent)
4-1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. mustard seed
1-1/2 tbsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. ground turmeric
Wash pickling cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch off blossom end and discard. Cut into 3/16-inch slices.
Combine cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Add salt. Cover with 2 inches crushed or cubed ice. Refrigerate three to four hours, adding more ice as needed.
Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Boil 10 minutes. Drain and add cucumbers and onions and slowly reheat to boiling.
Fill jars with slices and cooking syrup, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Adjust lids and process for 20 minutes. The following treatment results in a better product texture but must be carefully managed to avoid possible spoilage.
Place jars in a canner filled half way with warm (120º to 140ºF) water. Then, add hot water 1 to 2 inches above jars.
Heat the water enough to maintain 180 to 185ºF water temperature for 30 minutes.
Check with a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180ºF during the entire 30 minutes.
Temperatures higher than 185ºF may cause unnecessary softening of pickles.
Storage: After processing and cooling, jars should be stored 4 to 5 weeks to develop ideal flavor.
This was a fun long day and their pickles and strawberry jam did really well at the fair. They all placed in either first, second or third — still trying to figure that one out.
April Reese is a certified master food preserver through the University of California at Davis. She can be reached at (530) 274-3871 at the A to Z Supply Garden Center or you can email her questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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