I don’t like store bought pickles…I never have. When I was a kid, my mom canned pickles and to this day, those pickles are the only ones I will eat. So when my mom and I realized that we only had one jar of pickles left from our previous canning adventure from a couple of years ago, there was only one thing to do…..spend part of the Labor Day weekend canning pickles.
So Sunday morning, it was off to Duris Cucumber Farm to get cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and onions. Duris Cucumber Farm opened in 1955 when Hazel Duris sold her extra cucumbers at a small roadside stand and it is still a family run farm. You can get everything necessary for making pickles there, including all of your canning supplies.
In addition to the cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and garlic, there are a few more ingredients that are needed – pickling salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric.
Canning sliced crisp pickles is a fairly labor intensive process and is definitely time consuming. Before you even begin to dice the vegetables, you first need to sterilize your canning jars (I run mine through the dishwasher). Then you dice the green peppers and the onions and slice the cucumbers. After everything is cut, you put all the vegetables into a large bowl (or more than one if your largest bowl is not big enough) and add the pickling salt and a bunch of ice. Cover the bowl with a towel, do the dishes and then relax with a cup of coffee – this needs to sit for 3 hours.
After the cucumbers, onions, green peppers, garlic, pickling salt and ice have sit for three hours, pick out all of the ice that hasn’t melted and drain the mixture well and then put it into a big stock pot. In a bowl, you combine the apple cider vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric. Add that to the stock pot and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently to get all the cucumbers down into the vinegar mixture.
Ladle the cucumber mixture into the canning jars and seal with a lid and a ring and place in the canning rack.
Once you make it to this point, the rest of the canning process is really quick. Place the canning rack with your jars in it into your canner that is filled with enough boiling water to cover the jars by about an inch. Boil for five minutes and then remove from the canner and place the individual jars on a heat resistant surface to cool – I use a couple of bath towels folded in half on the kitchen table. Take care not to touch the jars – they are very hot! You will then be rewarded by hearing a series of pops as each jar seals itself.
The reward of fresh pickles is definitely worth the work involved in making them.
Out of curiosity, I looked at the ingredient list on a jar of pickles at the grocery store – cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, alum, potassium sorbate, calcium chloride, 9.1% sodium benzoate, natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, natural and artifical flavors, turmeric and annato. I’m not really sure why you would need yellow 5 or the other chemicals in a jar of pickles…..no wonder I don’t like store bought pickles.