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26 June 2012

Recipe: Bread & Butter Pickles

Many of us enjoy a home garden. There is just something special about growing your own food. If your as lucky as we are, and live in a very fertile area, then you are up to your ears in produce already. My most abundant crop? Cucumbers. Now while The Girl can eat them raw with a little pimento cheese, I prefer pickling. Here is a recent recipe that has proved to be a bid hit!


What you will need:
2.5 pounds pickling cucumbers (Fresh from the garden or market)
1 pound white or yellow onions, THIN sliced
1/4 cup pickling salt (Can substitute Kosher, but NEVER table salt)
1  1/4 cup white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
2  1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp dried ground lemongrass
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (omit if heat adverse)
3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon tumaric
Whole allspice
Whole cloves
Canning equipment

Method:
After cleaning the cucumbers, slice the ends off and discard. Slice the remainder into 1/4 inch thick slices and place in a large bowl. Add sliced onions and pickling salt, stir to ensure equal coverage. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel, and fill with several inches of ice. Place in refrigerator to chill for 4 hours. Discard ice, rinse and drain twice.

If you are planning to store your pickles outside of the refrigerator for any length of time, you will need to sterilize your jars before canning, and heat the filled jars in a hot water bath after canning. If you are planning to eat the pickles right away and store them the whole time in the fridge, you can skip the water bath step. It's still a good idea to sterilize the jars first, you can do that by running them throughout the dishwasher, or place them in a 200 F oven for 10 minutes.  To sterilize the jars for canning, place empty jars on a metal rack in a large, 16-qt canning pot (jars must rest on the rack, not the bottom of the pot). Fill with warm water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to warm to keep jars hot and ready for canning. Remove with tongs or jar lifters one by one as you can the cucumbers.

In a 4 or 6 qt pot, place the vinegar, sugar, and all the spices. Bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the sliced cucumbers and onions. Bring to a boil again. As soon as the sugar vinegar solution begins to boil again, use a slotted spoon to start packing the hot jars with the cucumbers. First pack a jar to an inch from the rim with the vegetables, then pour hot vinegar sugar syrup over the vegetables to a half inch of the rim. Wipe rim clean with a paper towel. Place lid on jar and secure with screw band

If you are planning to store pickles outside of the fridge, process the filled jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Water level must be at a least one inch above the top of the cans. Bring to a hard boil for 15 minutes. Remove from water and allow to cool to room temperature, which will take several hours. The jars should make a popping sound as their lids seal.

Best served chilled, and a meat-and-cheese board helps!

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