Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lillian Rumsey's Bread and Butter Pickles

Some of my best memories of my grandmother come back to me in summertime.  My grandparents owned a farm, and, while I suspect some of my cousins have fond memories of the tractor and the animals, my favorite memories are of the gardens.  Grandma and I would go out to pick strawberries together, eating as many in the field as we brought into the house.  They were never so sweet inside as they were outside in the sunshine, giggling together about our berries.

When I started learning to preserve food, I "inherited" Grandma's bread and butter pickle recipe.  Although we never got to put up pickles together, making this recipe reminds me very strongly of her.  I can feel her with me while I'm out in the sun picking the cucumbers, and I can imagine her cutting her produce and turning it into pickles just as I do.  Nothing says summer happiness to me quite like Grandma's pickles.

Lillian Rumsey's Bread and Butter Pickles
(Note:  This recipe makes 4 quarts, but it is easy to quarter and just make a quart at a time if your garden is small.  That's what I do.)

12 cucumbers (6-7 inches long each)
8 small white onions
2 green peppers (I usually omit these because my peppers aren't ready at the same time as the cukes)
1/2 cup salt or enough to wilt the veggies

Pickling Syrup:
5 cups sugar
5 cups cider vinegar
1/2 t. turmeric
1/2 t. ground cloves
1 t. celery seed
2 t. mustard seed

Wash cucumbers, peel, and slice thin.  Slice onions and green peppers.  Place in a bowl layered with salt. Weight the veggies down with another bowl filled with ice.  Let stand for 3 hours or until veggies are wilted.
Drain and rinse thoroughly.

Mix together pickling syrup and boil 5 minutes.  Add drained veggies and bring to a simmer.  Can in hot, sterile quart jars.  Process in water bath canner, 10 minutes for pints/15 minutes for quarts.

(Note:  The original recipe does not include the processing in the water bath canner, as this recipe was intended for "open kettle" canning, a type of canning that relies on the heat of the jar and the contents make the jar lid seal.  Pickles were often canned this way; dill pickles were often not canned at all, residing for their entire lives in a crock.  The pickling syrup or brine was usually enough to keep them preserved.  In deference to modern food safety norms, I have added the water bath canning step.)
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