PBL's Bread and Butter Pickles

Use about two quarts of sliced pickles or same amount pickles and sliced onions.  Put about one-third cup salt on pickles.  Cover and weight after putting enough ice cubes over to cover pickles when melted.  Leave on counter.  Next morning, drain pickles.  Heat enough water and about one-half to three-fourths cup vinegar to cover with about a teaspoon alum.  Drop in pickles and keep at just boiling point about ten minutes.  Do not boil.

Drain again.

Fix enough vinegar and sugar equal parts to cover — approximately a cup and a half of each.  Add celery seed, mustard seed, curry powder, turmeric, bay leaf, a snort (1/10 tsp) of cayenne pepper or a fresh red pepper (hot).  Drop in pickles and stir occasionally till simmer stage.  Can or place in ref. + use.


Notes:  I expanded most of the abbreviations.  "Pickles" means cucumbers.  "Can" means the open-kettle method.  Some open-kettle cans will spoil, but if the pickles are processed, none of them will be fit to eat.  (With all that vinegar, you don't need to worry about undetectable spoilage.)


25 August 2018

We made pickles this month, and I misread "fix" and just dumped the vinegar, sugar, and spices into a saucepan.  You need to heat it until the sugar has dissolved.  I dumped in the vegetables before heating, and it made them less crisp than they ought to be.  But not mushy, and we like them very much.

I used a teaspoon of each spice, except the bay leaf.  It seems to have been about right. 

I'd been using bay leaves by pulling out the one that stuck up farthest until all that were left were so small that two leaves added up to less than one standard leaf.  I think I like tiny leaves for pickles.

A mandoline is almost essential to this process.  We used the thick slicing blade for most of the vegetables, and the thin one for the carrot.

I think Mom was just very good with a knife.  

3 September 2018

It doesn't go without saying that "drain" means "dump into a half-gallon tea strainer bridged across the sink and let it drip for a while".  I imagine that Mom used a colander.


21 August 2019

After I'd put up a year's supply of bread and butter pickles, I downloaded a spice list from the Web (if jotting it on the back of a flyer is "downloading"):

Coriander seed (all I could find was ground coriander)
mustard seed
black peppercorns
chili pepper
celery seed
bay leaves

The cinnamon and ginger were ground.

I used one teaspoon of each, except that I used only one bay leaf, and I left the chili pepper out and sliced up a red jalapeño with the cucumbers.

It was quite tasty, and I might put up another batch if I stop coughing before all the cucumbers rot.

I think spiced vinegar syrup would be good for putting up peaches.  I'm not likely to have any peaches to experiment with.

I must write an account of open-kettle canning; all the references are too busy saying "AWK SCRICKLE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" to tell you how it's done.

Botulinum spores will not sprout in vinegar.  And a boiling-water bath won't even slow up a botulus spore, no matter how long you boil it.


25 August 2019

I peeled a tedious amount of Indiana Wild Garlic today, then decided to put in both the jalapeños.

There was a bad spot on the stem end of the red jalapeño, so I sliced it off generously.  I learned that it's much easier to run a pepper over the mandoline wide end first, so I cut the stem off the green jalapeño and sliced it the same way.

It's not only easier to slice that way, it's possible to pick the seeds off the membranes without disturbing the membranes.  Or whatever you call that spongy tissue inside a pepper where all the heat resides.  I don't see how direction of slicing could affect that, but I'll take it.

Slicing from the stem end was also better for the yellow mini-sweet I put in, but there wasn't as much room for improvement.

I also learned that it's possible to make thick slices of carrot with a mandoline if you keep rotating the carrot, so that the blade doesn't have to cut all the way across in one fell swoop.  I'm definging "thick" here as "not with the potato-chip blade".

When the slices started getting narrow, I ate the rest of the carrot.


3 September 2019

More experiment: one pint of vinegar, no sugar.  I think the usual cup and a half would have done, but the sugar *does* increase the volume.

One teaspoon mustard seed, one teaspoon celery seed, one teaspoon black peppercorns, two bay leaves, one rounded quarter teaspoon of calcium chloride.  I put the spices into the vinegar a few hours ahead of time so that they could infuse, and left the calcium chloride until the last minute, lest it crisp up the mustard seed.

I eased back on the spices because I dug a clump of .  nt garlic and put in both jalapeños.  The garlic wasn't all that giant because I've been neglecting to thin the clumps for years.  Also didn't cut off the flower buds, but not all of the cloves were feeding the heads.

I learned that it's easier to slice garlic with a knife than with a mandoline, and toward the end, also realized that I should be slicing the cloves lengthwise, not crosswise.

Three red mini-sweet peppers, two huge cucumbers — the slices are going to shed seeds, but they will be good around the edges.  And a few token slices of onion and carrot.  Onion on the mandoline, carrot with a knife.

I need a new mandoline.


7 September 2019

When I sampled the left-over pickles, I realized that when I took out the sugar, I should have put in some salt.  When I opened the half-pint, I put in a teaspoon of salt and let it set a few days.  Today I found it much improved.

I bought a lot of peppers today, and plan to dig enough giant garlic to make a half gallon.

First, I'll make the last of the cucumbers into sweet-spice pickles.  Those turned out quite good.


10 September 2019

I sliced cucumbers etc. for sweet-spice pickles yesterday.  I used the point of the potato peeler to seed the peppers, and it went much easier -- and I didn't get capsasin under my fingernails.

I sliced the over-ripe cucumber in half lengthwise and scraped the seeds out with a grapefruit spoon.  I should have cut it in half crosswise first.  I sliced from both ends until I got to the seed compartment before splitting the cucumber.

I got two pints and a half pint.  They are good, and a little zingy.  I think that one of the two "jalapeños" was from the basket of not-quite-so-big peppers. 

A quart of alum solution is enough.  I'd probably use a cup more water if my saucepan were a little deeper.  Since distilled vinegar is cheap, I put in a whole cup, then use the same pint measure to add three cups of water.  I lift from the bottom all around to make sure no slices are hotter than others, then pat the top to make everything sink and agitate the liquid.  Repeat for ten minutes.  I use a slotted serving spoon, since I'll later use it to fill the jars.

It's possible to slice carrots with the mandoline, but a great deal quicker to use a knife.

I put the vinegar on the spices soon after slicing the vegetables, to give the whole spices time to infuse.

I went to Spice Merchant today and bought a bag of whole coriander seed.  I hope it keeps until next pickling season.

Fresh ginger would be really good in these pickles.


27 September 2019

It was great fun, but just one . . .
more thing, and I'm really, really glad that it's over.

I dug the giant garlic yesterday, and cleaned and sliced it this morning.  It's kind of feeble as a seasoning, so I meant to include my entire crop of regular garlic, but when I went out to the garage after slicing over a quart of not-so-giant garlic (plus one green tomato I found on the ground), I decided that the three largest bulbs would be enough.  Then after peeling the first clove, I took two of the bulbs back.

Likewise, the original plan was equal parts of garlic and jalanpeños, but when I got the little peppers out, I reflected that they are hotter than jalpeños and took only four.  Then after slicing the first one, I traded the remaining three for a fatter one.  The fatter one wasn't as hard to seed as the first pepper, but I didn't go back for more.

After salting, ice-cubing, weighting, covering, and setting a timer on, I remembered that I'd been saving a small onion for this batch of pickles.  Ah, well, pickled garlic doesn't really need onion anyway.

Since the half gallon of sliced veggies was rather scant, I fixed only a cup and a half of vinegar.  Good that I decided against a whole pint:  there wasn't quite enough cider vinegar and I had to piece it out with distilled vinegar.  I was somewhat concerned that that jug was near the bottom, but then noticed that there is also an un-opened gallon on the laundry shelf.

I put in three small bay leaves, one teaspoon of mustard seed, all of the celery seed (about a teaspoon), two basil seed heads, two branch-tips of oregano, two parsley leaves, and one tablespoon of salt.  Then I put a lid on the saucepan and set it on the counter behind the bowl of vegetables.  I plan to taste it after heating to see whether that is enough salt.


Cain't type worth a nickel -- am I fit to pickle?

Perhaps I should read the directions before starting operations.

After my nap, I remembered that the reason I want the spices to have time so soak was that I meant to put in a rounded teaspoon of black peppercorns.  They still had more than four hours to go.

When I went to the kitchen for a drink and decided to start the jar-sterilizing kettle over low heat, I remembered to put in a rounded quarter teaspoon of calcium chloride.

Even though the vegetables were scant, a pint was just barely enough vinegar, and I had to re- arrange a bit to make it enough.


Sunday, 6 September 2020

Sliced vegetables in the morning, pickling in the evening.

To my surprise, there were over a quart of cucumbers.  I actually had winter-onion bulbs left over.  I also put in a jalapeño and a Holy Mole pepper, and rather a lot of garlic that I peeled yesterday and the day before.

I sliced each end of the holy mole on the mandoline until I found a seed, then split it lengthwise, picked out the seeds, and cut it into pieces.  I broke the stem off the jalapeño, sliced it stem-end first, and picked out the seeds, leaving the membranes as much as I could.

Much to my surprise, when I finished, I still had time to get to church before services started.  So I fooled around a little to make sure everyone was in the sanctuary when I arrived.  Except the ushers and the guy who hangs out in the parlor, presumably for the same reason that I hang out in the basement.

When I opened the sack of sugar, I found not quite a cup and a half, and pieced it out with fructose from the sugar bowl.  I skimped a little because fructose is sweeter than sugar.

I'd already added sugar and vinegar to next week's Martin's order.

After adding the spices to the sugar, I put three pint jars and four jar lids in the five-quart kettle over low heat.

Then I came in here to rest up a little before dumping the vegetables into the half-gallon tea strainer.


25 September 2020

Sour Pickled Giant Garlic

Nearly a pint of seasoning:  The remainder of the cucumber crop (three were big enough to slice), half a stalk of green celery, four tiny winter-onion scallions, one jalapeño, and half of an anonymous hot red pepper.  I sliced the jalpeño and cut the anonymous pepper into squares.

I cut one of the scallion tops into short pieces and put it into a saucepan.  When the garlic was salted and under ice, I measured a pint of vinegar from a plastic bottle into the pan, then poured vinegar into the glass bottle of "organic" vinegar.  There was a tablespoon or so of vinegar that wouldn't fit, so I poured that into the saucepan too.

Spices added to vinegar:
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp yellow mustard seed
6 fragments of bay leaf
1 tsp celery seed
two branch-tips of oregano
the stems of two sprigs of parsley, cut into half-inch pieces
five slices of fresh ginger

And in the evening:
1 tablespoon salt
1 rounded quarter tsp calcium chloride

When I started to heat the spiced vinegar, I chickened out and added another cup of vinegar.  It's good that I did; there was exactly enough to cover the pickles.

It made four pints, not quite full.  Garlic doesn't shrink as much as cucumbers and onions do.

I used wide-mouth pint jars.


Sour Giardiniera

Monday, 23 August 2021

I peeled the garlic and giant garlic first, so I wouldn't get bored and skimp.  I peeled enough garlic to heap up a cereal bowl (or oatmeal dish, Mutual China used to call it).

I'm going to slice some other vegetables before I cut the garlic up.

Starting with the non-leafy parts of two celery hearts -- a little less than a cup.

Next the four green jalapeños, to get the seed-picking out of the way.

After picking the seeds out of two, I decided that two jalapeños were quite enough.  I usually put in only one, after all.

I did remember that peppers are easier to slice stem-end first.

Next the two cucumbers, because getting rid of those was the whole reason for making giardiniera, and I want to make sure there is room for them.

But it turned out that the smaller cucumber had rotted.  And it was the better one; I suspect that the large one will be seedy.

It wasn't, but just barely.

Next, for similar considerations, the garlic and giant garlic that I spent so much time peeling.

I was pleased to discover that the garlic didn't object much to being mandolined instead of knife cut.

For color, two red mini-sweets and some carrot slices.

My plan was "and then slice enough onions to make half a gallon", but it's already half a gallon, so I cut several winter-onion bulbils in half and added them.  There was a small multiplier bulb in the box with the bulbils, so I peeled that and put it in whole.  Being a multiplier, it split into two bulbs when I peeled it.

I dithered over slicing some fresh ginger root, but the previous (unrecorded except in the Banner) batch of giardiniera has an entire root in it.

After putting it into the stainless-steel mixing bowl and adding salt and ice, I covered it with plastic wrap and put it into the soda fridge, because I have to do the wash tomorrow, so it will probably be late in the day when I can it.

I must not forget to put salt in the vinegar.


24 August 2021

There was still ice in the bowl this morning, so I set it on the counter.  Perhaps I should have waited until noon.


After an hour or two, I reflected that there hadn't been much ice in it, and that there is no way I can get at this until after supper, so I put it back into the soda fridge.

It's eleven, and I have picked and washed a stem of oregano as a start to making the spiced vinegar.  A pint of vinegar is in a saucepan; I plan to pour it into a larger pot when it's time to mix it with the vegetables.

I haven't any yellow mustard seed.  I plan to use black and cross my fingers.

Spices added to vinegar:
fresh oregano
fresh thyme
three parsley stems, cut into half-inch pieces.  I ate the leaves.
1 rounded tsp black peppercorns
four small winter-onion leaves, cut into half-inch pieces.
Two teaspoons Spice Merchant brown mustard seed
6 fragments of bay leaf
The leaves of one sprig of marjoram
one teaspoon celery seed, ground with one tablespoon of salt

Turmeric and curry powder would go well with this, but I don't want to dye the pickles yellow.

Evening: jars, lids *and rings* in five-quart kettle, towel on counter, spiced vinegar on "keep warm", six-quart kettle, funnel, tongs, mortar of salt and celery seed, and calcium chloride standing by.  I think I'm ready to dump the vegetables into the half-gallon strainer.


Three pints put up.  When I saw that there wasn't going to be enough to fill the fourth pint, I poured spiced vinegar into the jars, wiped the rims with a fresh piece of paper towel for each jar (leaving half a paper towel on the towel), and put on the lids, then dealt with the remainder.

It looks as though *all* the mustard seed stayed with that last jar of pickles.  What I get for dipping the pickles out with a slotted spoon, I guess.

There was only a dab of vinegar left in the kettle, but since this is "place in ref. + use.", submerging the pickles isn't very important.  It's very lucky that When I added a cup of vinegar to the pint I started with, I saw that there was very little left in the jug, reflected that spiced vinegar always comes in handy, and dumped in the entire jug, which made it about a cup and a half added to the pint that I started with.

Which was about right: I was thinking that twice a cup and a half was a pint, and it's actually a pint and a half.  (Well, years went by between parts of the calculation.)

Future reference: to make sour garlic pickles, use an entire quart of cider vinegar.