Too many cucumbers? Make pickles

Be sure to use canning jars with new lids that can be locked on with rings. Or, there are caps with the lids and rings combined. Be sure to use canning jars with new lids that can be locked on with rings. Or, there are caps with the lids and rings combined.

Be sure to use canning jars with new lids that can be locked on with rings. Or, there are caps with the lids and rings combined.

Be sure to use canning jars with new lids that can be locked on with rings. Or, there are caps with the lids and rings combined.

I made pickles yesterday. It was hot, humid and sticky — not the best day to be fooling around with steaming, syrupy juice and hot-to-the-touch sterilized jars. But, the cucumbers were ganging up on me and something had to be done.

I love bread and butter pickles and hadn’t made them in years, so the time seemed right — and it was my day off. Unfortunately, we can’t pick the perfect weather days to take off.

I had to adjust the recipe a little, because the cukes were a little larger than they should have been. If you have narrow, 6- to 7-inch cukes, then use 25; but, mine were about 8 to 9 inches and fatter, so I used 13.

And, today’s onions are softball-sized, so I only used 3.

But, it’s not an exact science, so don’t worry about it. I sometimes only make half the recipe, too.

Bread & Butter Pickles

Makes 9 pints

25 small, firm cucumbers*

8 medium onions (or 3 large), thinly sliced

1/2 cup salt (I use kosher salt)

5 cups cider vinegar

5 cups sugar

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

2 tablespoons celery seeds

1 tablespoon whole cloves

Cut off the ends of the cukes and slice them 1/8-inch thick. In a large container or pot, layer the cucumber and onion slices alternately. Sprinkle each layer with some of the salt and cover with ice cubes. Let stand for 3 hours.

Drain thoroughly in a colander. (I do this a little at a time as the pickling liquid is boiling.)

Meanwhile, combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a kettle and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 10 minutes. Add the drained cucumbers and onions (be careful not to splash, that stuff is hot!). Return the mixture to a boil; remove pan from the heat.

Ladle the slices into hot, sterilized canning jars.** Add enough liquid to fill to the top. With a wet paper towel, wipe the rims and edges. Cover with lids and rings and tighten. Store in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate a jar once it’s open.

Note: Some like their pickles spicier. In that case, add some red pepper flakes to the boiling liquid.

* Be sure your cucumbers are firm, with no sign of mold or decay.

** Now that I have a dishwasher, it’s a cinch to run the canning jars through a cycle just before I need them, so they come out piping hot. Otherwise, boil them in a kettle. And, only use canning jars.

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