Suddenly, I’ve been thrown into overdrive in the kitchen attempting to preserve the produce starting to accumulate. The past two days found me dealing with the cucumber and zucchini madness happening right outside my door.
Yesterday, I decided I had enough cucumbers to do seven quarts of kosher dill pickles.
Wrong. I had enough to do almost twice that many, but my canner only holds seven. So today I used the rest to make my bread and butter pickle chips.
So far, the zucchini is under control, but still three good sized ones made four loaves of zucchini bread, which will be great for when we have visitors later this summer. Nothing beats coffee, fresh fruit and zucchini bread for an easy summer breakfast.
Bread & Butter
The tomatoes are starting to produce–mostly small varieties–but my husband tried a new variety this year, Black Brandywine. It’s gorgeous. Only two have been brought to the windowsill. We plan to eat them plain with salt to savor the taste, which hopefully will be as wonderful as their deep burgundy color.
I’ve been canning off and on for the past thirty years, and it seems each time I put something up, I learn something new. The other night I canned seven jars of bread and butter pickles using a recipe in Ball’s Blue Book guide to preserving (page 49). They didn’t specify whether to use white or cider vinegar so I started perusing the beginning pages (for “beginners” I thought). I read that white vinegar needed to be five percent acidity and not diluted with water. Interesting, but I didn’t think relevant. I checked my Heinz cider vinegar’s label – five percent. Then I grabbed the gallon of cheap white vinegar I bought last week. I think I saved a dollar on the big container – why would I try to save on the cheapest yet most useful commodity in the kitchen? I have no idea except I probably thought there was no difference. This label said “four percent acidity, diluted with water.”
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to save a buck. It was my choice which vinegar I used. Cider vinegar can color white vegetables in the canning process, but a lower acidity in the vinegar can run the risk of not preserving as well. So I decided to use a combo of both vinegars in this recipe. I also added some of our dried cayenne peppers from last year to the mix so there’s a little heat with the sweetness of the bread and butter mix.
Also, I was worried that I might not have quite enough cucumbers to make the seven-pint recipe so I added a medium-sized zucchini to the 18-20 cucumbers. The picture below shows the approximate size of the cucumbers (they’re sitting next to a pint jar).I sliced the cucumbers along with five medium onions. I added two whole cloves of garlic and five dried cayenne peppers. I mixed this with 1/2 cup of canning salt and covered the whole thing with ice cubes for three hours. I drained, rinsed, drained and then prepared the liquid.
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. mustard seed
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. peppercorns
3 cups vinegar (I used half white and half cider)
Bring liquid to boil and add vegetables and bring to a boil again. Pack in hot sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.
Last year all my pickles were a little soft. So I added lime (bought at the store with canning supplies) – 1/8 tsp. to each pint jar before adding pickles and liquid. Also I read that soft pickles can be caused from under processing. I lived in Florida at sea level for 30 years so I never thought the higher altitude of western Pennsylvania would make much difference. We’re at about 1,100 feet here so all the canning books say to add 2-5 minutes to processing time. I’ve been adding five minutes (Ball’s recommendation) which I did for this recipe.
I had a little bit of the mixture leftover so I put it in the frig and sampled the pickles this morning.
The result? Perfection! Crisp and flavorful bread and butter chips, with a hint of heat. Next – dill pickles!