Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sweet Cucumber Pickles

All summer long I have been harvesting cucumbers, each day bringing in armfuls and piling them up on the kitchen island. It was largely thanks to the children who sowed the seed rather generously and a very wet summer - they say you reap what you sow and that is exactly what happened. Every salad had cucumber in it, it was minced and added to Greek yogurt along with finely chopped mint and children on occasion, were spotted eating them whole, straight from the vine! Then the neighbour started leaving me lots of his cucumbers, he too was having a bumper harvest. His were a variety called 'white Russian'; we grew 'burpless' and Lebanese cucumbers. I couldn't even give them away at church - it seems everyone was awash with cucumbers or maybe they just didn't like them. There was no way we were going to use up all these cucumbers so they were turned into pickles - so easy to make. Have you ever tried them? My husband and children love them; they go into sandwiches and are the perfect accompaniment to quiches and other savoury dishes. They are sometimes called 'bread and butter' pickles because I guess that's exactly how you eat them - on bread and butter. I do like them topped on a slice of cheese on a wholewheat cracker though! This is how I make mine.

You will need

4 kilos of cucumbers (that's about 8.8lbs) - very approximate. You could make more or less and adjust the amount of brine needed.
5 onions
3 cloves of garlic tied in muslin
2 red or green capsicums (bell peppers) - I like the red for contrast.
3 tablespoons celtic sea salt (or ordinary table salt but I prefer to use good quality salt)
1 litre of cold water (about 0.264 US gallons) - or more if needed to ensure all vegetables are covered
4 cups raw sugar
5 cups cider vinegar
2 tsps tumeric (don't omit this - it gives your pickles a lovely golden colour)

1. Prepare your cucumbers and other vegetables - Slice the cucumber thinly; this is where a mandolin slicer is invaluable - it gives you uniform, thin slices and saves you so much time. There is no need to peel the cucumbers!

2. Make a brine - pour cold water into a large bowl or pan, dissolve the salt and soak your vegetables for at least 3 hours.

3. Drain your vegetables well and put into a pan suitable for preserving - I use a big stainless steel crock pot. Add the remaining ingredients and bring them to the boil on the stove top.

4. Stir gently ensuring that all the sugar has dissolved.

5. Remove the bag of garlic and pour your pickles into sterilized jars and seal immediately.

I keep my jars of pickles in the fridge and in previous summers they have been used up within a month. It is now into autumn and we still have quite a number of jars left. I have always assumed these are a 'fridge pickle', i.e one that does not keep indefinitely, that needs to be used up within a couple of months but I would like to find out how long other people who are into pickles keep theirs. Any advice would be appreciated - I am still a novice at preserving!

What kind of pickles do you get into?

With Love and Joy,


Pam said...

I love the look of those pickles. It is so interesting to think of you growing and harvesting your garden, and we are still in the last stages of winter. We did get some seeds planted indoors, and have hopes of spring right around the corner. Love thinking of all those cucumbers, we are big cucumber eaters around here. I have made "dill pickles", which have lasted up to a year and still quite tasty and well preserved. The bread and butters look yummy and I will be keeping this recipe to give it a try this summer. Also, I like the look of the "Tamarillo Pear Chutney". I don't know what a Tamarillo is, and am anxious to find out. Have made Apple Chutney and love that. It is so interesting to think of you on the other side of the world and what you are all up to.

Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog. The horse story was so sweet and sad.

Many Blessings,

Dee said...

My pickle recipe is similar to yours and the pickles that we are eating at the moment are 13 months old. I only store in the fridge once opened.

Hope that helps

Anonymous said...

Cucumbers are a fantastic Summer vegetable to grow. I grew them last year and had a great harvest. You cannot compare them to shop bought produce.I did make some cucumber pickles. My Grandmother used to make cucumber pickles (or Bread & Butter pickles)and I loved them. Thankyou for the recipe. I will jot that down and hopefully next year will have some to make into pickles, again.Have a lovely weekend Ann.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Ann. Forgot to leave my name in the comment.Angela

Renata said...

We love cucumbers here, but we really don't eat many pickles, so sorry I can't help you out there! Thanks for the recipe - it does sounds delicious though! I imagine that homemade pickles are much tastier than the shop bought ones (that I remember hating from my childhood!)
Have a wonderful day Ann

Farming On Faith said...

I am assuming your summer is coming to an end soon.
Your pickles look so yummy. It will be several months before we see any garden produce. It is still another month before I can plant much but onions and potatoes.

How are you all doing?

Fruitful Harvest said...

Hi Ann,

I just popeed over to say Hi!
Its been a while since I have been bye...but I think of you often. I pray all is well with you all!

Your pickles looks delish! We are just starting our gardens up again here in the US after a long winter. Spring has just arrived....much rain,some sun but thats the way it is!

Peace and Love,

skony said...

In sterilized canned jars pickles can be kept over one year. Our jars are kept at the room temperature.


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