Thursday, September 19, 2013

Quick Cucumber Pickles

For the first time in many years, we have a garden. In the high and far off times when the kids were young I had a garden at the Newark Street Community Gardens. Later, it got to be a pain, so I dropped out. But this year, Bob got some landscaper to build raised beds, and we are growing tomatoes, (which the new puppy eats!) green beans, green peppers, lots of herbs, and pickle size cucumbers. The cucumbers flourished for a while so we had a large number of little cucumbers. I made the mistake of thinking we did not have enough for this recipe, so we stopped at the Van Ness Farmers Market on Saturday and bought more pickle size cukes.
Well, suffice it to say that I had enough cucumbers to make seven pints of pickles and have some left over. It's hard, at least for me, to estimate the amount of whole vegetables I need to make a quantity of sliced vegetables. I think I can safely say that 35 pickle size cucumbers of varying sizes ( a couple were the size of a young football) is more than enough for 4 quarts of sliced cucumbers.
This recipe lives up to its name. It is quick. I started it on Monday afternoon after I got back from the acupuncturist and finished it around 11:30 that night. There was a hiatus for dinner and (gasp) TV. After never watching TV for 20 years, except for things like the World Series, I have become a huge fan of BBC detective shows. Bob and I probably watch five or six a week.
These are also tasty. I learned from the pickles I made last year (bread and butter pickles) and strictly regulated the cooking time. Five minutes should be five minutes sharp, or else you wind up with mushy pickles, which is not the idea. I also cut the amount of sugar from four cups to three cups. I feel this was an improvement. Southerners, who, I understand, like things sweet, may not agree.
This recipe also gives precise instructions for canning, so I don't have to look it up on state extension websites. You can do it in a boiling water bath, which means a giant canning kettle. Just make sure you sterilize the jars and lids and follow the directions. If you've been thinking about making pickles, this would  be a good recipe to start with.If you have never canned before, you will need a set of pint size jars, lids and bands, a canning kettle and a rack to put the jars on, and a quart measuring cup. Most of this stuff will be available in your local hardware store.

Quick Cucumber Pickles

4 quarts thinly sliced cucumbers
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
1/2 cup salt
2 cloves garlic
2 quarts crushed ice or ice cubes
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
3 cups white vinegar

1. Combine the cucumbers, onions, salt and garlic in a large crock or bowl. Cover the top with the ice and let stand for three hours. The ice removes the bitterness from the cucumbers.
2. Drain the mixture thoroughly in a colander and discard the liquid. If desired, discard the garlic cloves as well.
3. In a large pot, combine the sugar, turmeric, celery seeds, mustard seeds and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. 
4. Add the drained vegetables and bring to a boil. Cook for five minutes.
5. Pack the hot pickles into hot sterilized jar to within one-half inch of the jar tops. Adjust caps and rings and make sure each cap is firmly sealed.
6. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for five minutes. The boiling water should extend at least one inch above the jars. Remove the jars, adjust seals if necessary, and allow the jars to cool. Store in a cool, dark, dry place.  Makes seven pints.

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