Pickling is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of what to do with too many vegetables.
Who doesn’t like pickles? Crazy people that’s who! Pickles are the best!
In my humble opinion, cucumbers are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and they take over the garden if you’re not careful. It comes as no surprise when each year we end up with more than we can eat within a reasonable amount of time. We either eat them, give them away or they end up as compost for next year’s garden.
My husband complains that all he grows in his garden are vegetables that I like. The result … 12 pounds of cucumbers in one evening’s harvest … plus a few green peppers. Now some of these cucumbers are monsters; meaning he waited too long to pick them so they’ve grown to monstrous proportions and have gotten slightly gutsy inside (i.e. too many seeds for my liking).
Normally I could eat 2-3 cucumbers a week but there was no way I could eat all 12 pounds of cucumbers before they went bad. We’ve always talked about it but we never actually made the time commitment nor willingly sacrificed that many hard grown vegetables to a potentially failed pickling attempt. This past weekend we took the leap and made pickles. It also helped that it was close to 100 degrees + humidity outside and there was no way we were going to be doing anything other than inside activities.
I sliced and diced the cucumbers along with the handful of green peppers we had. Some of the green peppers were so small I thought they were jalapenos but I was quickly informed that we didn’t plant any. There have been many times where we’ve had “surprise” produce grow in our garden … thank you birds!!
The cucumbers that were too big were cut into spears and I scrapped all of the seeds out. We made sure we had all of our canning jars ready to go by cleaning them in the pressure cooker. This sounds quick and easy but my husband and I both watched about 20 minutes of pickling videos … separately. Yes that sounds odd but we used our tablets to conduct separate searches and apparently different keyword combinations. We used the video I found because well … I found it. Ha!
While the jars we’re cleaning (I pre-washed them) I made the pickling liquid with Mrs.Wages Quick Process Zesty Bread & Butter Pickles. [Ingredients: Salt, Spice, Dehydrated Vegetables ( Red Bell Pepper, Onion, Jalapeno Pepper), Celery Seed, Spice Extractives (including Turmeric), Citric Acid.] I only had to add sugar and distilled white vinegar. After that it was simply a matter of filling the cleaned pickling jars with the cucumber/green pepper combo and filling to the top with the pickling liquid. I think it took more time to seal the jars (back in the pressure they went) then it did to prepare the vegetables and the pickling liquid.
Thanks to Ball’s Utensil Set for Preserving! Totally had everything we needed (and nothing we didn’t) to make it an easy process! No burnt fingers and no bubbles in our jars!
All in all the total time to can was about 4 hours. Then we had to chill them for 2 days. Well I chilled them all as I prefer COLD pickles. We didn’t seal all the jars as I fully anticipated eating them well within the 2 month time limit. The remaining jars we’ll give away or just eat as we have a craving as they’ll last 1-2 years or more.
Just tried my first one … YUM. Totally motivated me to write this blog post! I couldn’t stop popping the pickles. They were so crunchy and had a great flavor that was both sweet and spicy. The spicy sneaks up on you at the end!
We’re going to keep on canning any produce from our garden that we can’t eat within a reasonable time frame. Everything except tomatoes that is … we love them raw with mozzarella cheese or pureed for soups and sauces. I’ll keep sharing our crazy ventures in to amateur cooking … it is amateur at its best!