Monday, August 10, 2015

Canning Pickles With Grandma Biggs

Every Summer, my Grandma Biggs and I get together and can pickles for the year. My sweet, amazing Grandma gets 25 pounds of pickling cucumbers, and we get to work earlier in the day so that we have plenty of plenty of time. The first year we canned pickles, it took all day long because we didn't have a system. Last year, we had 50 pounds of pickling cucumbers to go through, which took all day. This year, it only took us three hours to put together 23 jars of pickles. We have our system down pat, and it was a lot of fun to get back into pickling.
 
I made an instructional on how to can pickles a few years ago, but I made it very complicated, and included a lot of steps. I am going to rewrite how to can pickles in this post, I will write it simply so it is easy to follow. 
Here is what you need: 

-25 lbs of pickling cucumbers of various sizes
-2 large jugs of white vinegar
-3 cups of sugar
-3 cups of pickling salt
-2 cups of mustard seed
-1 bushel of dill
-water
-23 to 24 glass mason jars, lids, and screw tops
-4 bulbs of garlic
-1 large pot
-1 small pot
-1 medium pot
-Ball pickle crisper
-coiled stove preffered

Here is how: 
Rinse off and scrub all of the pickling cucumbers, and cut off any stems. Cut the garlic cloves in 3rds, and place into a bowl. Set up the large pot in the back of the stove, fill 1/3 of the pot with water, and turn the burner on high. Place 5 to 6 wide-mouth mason jars in the pot, and fill the mason jars half way with water. In the medium pot, pour 6 cups of vinegar, 6 cups of water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup pickling salt, and stir all together until salt and sugar are dissolved, and bring brine to a boil. In the smaller pot, fill half-way with water, and place lids and screw tops into the water for sanitation. Once jars are hot, remove with a pot holder, or a pair of tongs. Pour the excess water out of the jar, and put off to the side. Place a couple of cuts of dill into the jar, add in a teaspoon of mustard seed, and a 1/4 teaspoon of pickle crisper into the jar. Drops five pieces of garlic into the jar, and fit the cucumbers into the jar. You may have to cut the cucumbers in half, or slice them in spears to get more to fit in the jar, but you want it packed. When the jar is filled with pickles, pour brine nearly to the top of the jar, and take the lid and screw top out of the boiling water and place on the jar. Screw the lid on the jar, and remember to listen to the "pop" of the jar sealing. Repeat until the cucumbers are gone, and jars are all filled. 
I find dill to be so pretty. It adds beautiful, succulent flavor to foods, and it smells so fresh. I love the look of dill, so whenever we can pickles, I get to see the pretty dill, and I get to take some home to cook with myself. I am thinking about making lemon dill salmon this week. 
This was the last jar we completed, the end of the pickling day. 
And we have our 23 jars
Every year, there is always the jar that is the odd-one-out, and that jar is the Christmas Pickles jar. We save that jar for Christmas dinner, and it is always special to eat our Christmas pickles on Christmas with our family. They always love our pickles, and they are a huge hit. 
My Grandma loves to bake, so before I arrived at her house yesterday, she made a chocolate zucchini cake for us to have after the pickling was done. It was amazing, it didn't need any glaze, or any frosting, it was absolutely perfect. She makes such amazing goodies, and I love those fun surprises. 
While we were making lunch, my Grandma got a jar of pickles out of the fridge from last year, and we did it on the same day last year that we did it this year. It was not intentional to can pickles on the exact same day, it was fun that we canned pickles exactly a year ago. It was a fun realization :) 
After lunch, we waited for the pickle jars to seal, and my Grandma brought out old photo albums of when my dad and uncle were children, and when my Grandma was a young girl. It was so fun to see those photos, and hear the stories that went with those photos. My Grandma is one, amazing lady, and I love spending time with her. 
It is always a fun time with my Grandma Biggs, especially when we can pickles. I can hardly eat store bought pickles anymore, the pickles we make are just so good, so crisp, and so tasty.

What Summer traditions do you have? 

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