06 September 2010

Family recipe Monday: let the canning begin: sweet pickles

It's not looking like the best year for the wild fruit--hailstorms and grasshoppers were our plagues of the 2010 season--but there should be enough for a reasonable run of plum jelly, apple butter and those decadent little pickled crabapples. I'll have the fruit recipes up next week. In the meantime, the cucumbers and squash are coming in nicely. Here are a few sweet pickle recipes from the files.

This recipe makes terrific pickles, but is a bit high-maintenance; it calls for reheating and repouring the pickling syrup four times. As always, be very careful when you are dealing with a hot sugar syrup. Do all your pouring over a sink with the pan tilted away from you. Sugar syrup burns are awful. With that caveat in mind, try this one out: the results are wonderful. I would let these stand for at least two weeks before opening, and a month might be even better for the flavors to mature.

Sweet pickles

2 gal. cucumbers, peeled and sliced

Put 1 pt salt over them and pour 1 gal. boiling water over them and let stand 1 week. Keep pickles under water. Pour water out and rinse jar. Pour another gal. of boiling water over them at let stand 24 hours. Pour off water and add a lump of alum (2 T) and boiling water again and let stand 24 hours.

Pour off and fix syrup:

4 quarts sugar
2 quarts vinegar
½ box pickling spices

Boil syrup for 4 minutes. Pour over pickles, pour syrup off and reheat and let boil 4 minutes. Repeat 3 more times.
--Mary Marcella Walker Brooks, Vada Brooks Johnson

Does anyone use alum in pickling any more? I remember it as a staple in my grandmother's pantry.

This was transcribed as written from Gran Brooks's penciled recipe notes. I use large white enamel stockpots for this kind of preparation. Obviously, Gran Brooks assumed that you know how to can these once they boiled for three minutes, no more no less. If you will be using them soon, they can be refrigerated; otherwise, crank up the canning gear.

Gran Brooks’s bread and butter pickles

25 medium cucumbers

Soak over night in cold water, next morning slice real thin but don’t peel and use 8 small onions sliced lengthwise. Cover onions and cucumbers with 1/2 cup salt and let stand 1 hour. Put into large kettle 1 quart vinegar and 2 cups sugar, 2 large T of white mustard seed, 2 large T of celery seed, 2 T brown ginger, 1 T turmeric and bring to good boil, turn cucumbers and onions into mixture and boil 3 minutes, no more no less.
--Mary Marcella Walker Brooks

Sweet pickles

6 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 gallon cucumbers soaked overnight in salt water (½ cup salt)

Next morning rinse cucumbers. In large pan mix vinegar, sugar and water. When mixed put in cucumbers and heat on low until cucumbers change color. Don’t boil. Pack in sterile jars and seal.
--Gene K. Hess

Happy, and sweet, Monday.

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