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Bread and Butter Pickles

16 Jul

I never had a strong opinion one way or the other about bread and butter pickles until college, when my bestie and roomie, Julie, started to put them on our shopping list.  I then discovered that I loooooved them as a snack.  I love the way the sweetness of the sugar plays against the tartness of the vinegar, the crunch of the pickle, and the aroma of the spices.  So, when I saw a precious little bundle of pickling cukes in our weekly CSA share, my mind immediately jumped to the idea of creating my own bread and butter pickles – all the more so because it is important to me to try and use all means necessary to use and preserve our weekly CSA goodies.

Pickles are actually delightfully easy to make.  There is no need to be intimidated by the canning process, which is actually fairly straightforward.  I detailed what you need to do below, although I didn’t bother sealing the jars because I know these will be gobbled up well within the several weeks they will be viable under refrigeration.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Pickles:

.625 lb. pickling cucumbers

1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 tbs. pickling salt

1/3 cup white distilled vinegar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 tsp. mustard seeds

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 inch cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

Pinch ground nutmeg

Large pinch turmeric

Additional Equipment:

1 pint-sized canning jar, unused lids, metal screw bands for canning lids

1 metal collander or canning rack

Mandolin, fitted with “crinkle” blade

Tongs

Carefully clean the cucumbers, being sure to scrub them so they are physically clean and free from any dirt or debris.  Slice off each end and run through “crinkle” blade of mandolin on 1/8″ setting.  Alternatively, slice the cucumbers about 1/8″ wide.

Place cucumbers in a large bowl.  Add sliced onions and pickling salt and stir to thoroughly combine.  Cover with a clean, thin tea towel.  Cover towel with a few inches of ice.  Place bowl in the refrigerator in let chill four hours.  Discard any remaining ice.  Drain and thoroughly rinse cucumbers and onions.  Repeat.

Regardless of whether you are going to store your pickles outside of the refrigerator or inside of the refrigerator, you must sterilize your jar.

Storage inside of refrigerator:  Run jar through dishwasher or place in a 200º oven for 10 minutes.

Storage outside of refrigerator:  Place empty jars on a metal rack or metal collander in a large pot.  Fill pot with warm water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low in order to keep jars hot and ready for canning.  Pour boiling water over both lids and rings.

Place vinegar, sugar, and all of the spices in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Once sugar as dissolved, add cucumbers and onions.  Bring to a boil again.  As soon as the vinegar solution boils, use a slotted spoon to start packing sterilized or hot jar with cucumbers and onions.  Pack the jar about an inch from the rim with vegetables.  Pour hot vinegar solution over the cucumbers and onions to about a half inch from the rim.  Wipe the rim clean with a paper towel.  Place a sterilized lid on the jar and secure with metal screw cap.

If storing in the refrigerator:  Transfer to refrigerator.  Store about a five days before eating for maximum flavor.

If storing outside the refrigerator:  Transfer the jar to the hot water bath.  Water must be about an inch over the top of the jar.  Raise heat and boil vigorously for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from water and let cool.  Once opened, lid should make a “pop” noise if it was properly sealed.

Geauga Family Farms Summer CSA – Week Five

16 Jul

Summer CSA – Week Five

Pictured in this week’s share, you see three kohlrabi, two hearts of lettuce, a small head of cabbage, one ginormously gigantic sweet onion, three tomatoes, a zucchini, a yellow squash, and a cucumber.  Though the items are pretty similar to last week’s, I’m happy with the variation in what we received for the week.  As much as I like lettuce, I’m glad we didn’t receive an overwhelming amount.  I think I’m going to add eggs as an extra for next week – the farm fresh yolks are just so delicious and vibrant that I’m always disappointed by grocery store eggs now that I know what I’m missing.

From last week, we have leftover several of the potatoes, one tomato, one head of lettuce, a zucchini, and two kohlrabi bulbs.  Basically, we could have stood to use up a little bit more, but everything we have is still completely usable (and WILL be used!).  The phở bò, though delicious, didn’t use up any CSA ingredients.  On the other hand, the ratatouille I made used up a whole mess of them.  It was definitely the best ratatouille I’ve ever made, due in no small part to the peak freshness and high quality of the produce.  My collard green mac and cheese used up the last of the collards from two weeks ago.  I also made some bread and butter pickles, the recipe for which I will be posting shortly, and some spiced rhubarb pickles, which will be posted in the next few days.  Finally, I made a salad one day for lunch from some of the lettuce, a handful of almonds, and some balsamic and olive oil.

I really haven’t come to any final decisions as to what to make with this week’s share.  I never got around to the Israeli couscous with vegetables I mentioned last week, so I will probably make that.  I’m also thinking about some sort of vegetarian stuffed cabbage, some herbed baked tomatoes and kohlrabi, and a vegetable pasta dish of some sort.

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