Picked & Pickled

I’ve been busy lately. With the vegetable garden producing a fair amount of cucumbers, one must find something to do with them. We’ve had our fill of cucumber salad for a few weeks, I think.  I could either start sending them to work with my husband to give to his co-workers, or start preserving them. I chose the later.

I haven’t done any canning for years. The last garden I had was huge and it yielded about 20 cucumbers every week. I learned how to preserve back then. I made tons of bread and butter pickles, sweet pickles, sandwich slices, dills, and kosher dills. I had so many jars of pickles I had to start giving them away!

These are some of the first cucs from my current garden. I planted Straight Eights and pick them when they’re the size I want for canning. Pretty good looking cucs, huh?! Notice, no wax.

Straight Eight fresh from the garden!

Straight Eight’s fresh from the garden!

We love bread and butter pickles, so that was the first batch I put up. Pickles are very easy to make. Just make sure you read up on how to do it properly, find a good recipe, and you’re all set.  I recommend Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Preserving if you’re a novice. Use their recipes or one you know is approved by the USDA. Your State Division of Agriculture should also have information on home preservation of foods.  Another source of good information is the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Here is my first batch of bread and butter pickles. I’ve made two batches so far and have a total of seven pints.

Bread & Butter Pickles

Bread & Butter Pickles

So after putting up seven pints of bread and butter pickles we had a bit of a lull from the garden. I couldn’t wait another week for more cucumbers, and since my husband loves pickled beets, I went to the grocery store and bought two bunches.  And now we have pickled beets.

Pickled Beets

Pickled Beets

This morning I found four beautiful, ready to pick cucumbers in the garden.

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More Straight Eights!

I thought about making kosher dills, but we don’t seem to buy them that often. What we do go through fast around here is sweet pickle relish. My husband uses tons of it on burgers and hot dogs. I also use it a lot making tuna salad. So why not make something we purchase frequently!?  And here are the six one-half pint jars of sweet pickle relish I made today with the four cucumbers I picked moments before I started chopping them up.

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Homemade sweet pickle relish. No high fructose corn syrup or preservatives!

The best part is that I have used absolutely no chemicals in my garden and have had no problems with bugs or disease. And the pickles and beets have no high fructose corn syrup or preservatives in them. That’s a good thing.

Happy canning!

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