With the combination of rain and hot weather we’ve been getting, it’s been a stellar year for cucumbers. So far, we’ve harvested 31 lbs. of cukes from our two hills of Little Leaf H-19 (seeds purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in 2012), and the vines are still going strong. It’s pickle-making time!
I dedicated my first round of pickle-making this year to sweet pickles, using a favorite recipe from Phyllis Pellman Good’s The Best of Amish Cooking. I’ve modified it slightly to account for a larger quantity of cucumbers and to add some additional water-bath processing for increased food safety. Also, I’ve added more detailed instructions as to how to go about the daily draining/reboiling process.
This was also my first time trying a new canning product: Tattler’s E-Z-seal reusable canning lids. Those are the white plastic lids you’ll see in the picture below. I’ll write more about these lids in a future post, but in the meantime I want you to have the link in case you want to try some yourself this canning season. Now for the recipe!
Amish 7-Day Sweet Pickles
Makes 17 pints.
- 11 lbs. medium cucumbers (3-4″ long)
- boiling water
- 2-1/2 quarts apple cider vinegar
- 20 cups (about 8 lbs.) granulated sugar
- 5 Tablespoons salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 Tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 Tablespoon allspice
- 1 Tablespoon mustard seed
- 1 Tablespoon celery seed
Day 1: While you are thoroughly washing the cucumbers, heat to boiling enough water to cover them. Filling a large enamel canning kettle 1/3 full gives me the right amount. When the water is boiling, carefully drop all the washed cucumbers into the water. (If necessary, add more boiling water to cover.) Turn off heat. Let stand for 24 hours.
Day 2: On Day 2, you want to get rid of the old soaking water and replace it with new boiling water. You can do this by draining the cucumbers, washing the original pot and refilling it, or if you have a second big pot, you can do as I do: I boil a second canning kettle 1/3 full of water, then by hand fish the cucumbers out of the old pot and slide them into the new boiling water. Again, leave for 24 hours.
Day 3: Same as Day 2.
Day 4: Same as Day 2.
Day 5: Today, instead of boiling water, you’re going to boil the canning syrup. In a large kettle (not aluminum or any other reactive metal!), combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. As you heat it, stir while the sugar is dissolving, so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan. It may seem like that amount of sugar could never dissolve, but don’t worry, it will! As the syrup is coming to a boil, remove your cucumbers from their soaking water and slice into 1/4″ slices, being sure to throw away the stem and blossom ends. When syrup is boiling, carefully spoon cucumber slices into syrup. In the beginning, they will be very buoyant because the syrup mixture is so dense. Don’t worry. Make sure they’ve all been dunked in the syrup at least once, and over the next day they’ll start to sink as they absorb the vinegar and sugar.
Day 6: Drain off the syrup into another kettle. Reheat it to boiling, then carefully pour the cucumber slices back in.
Day 7: No need to drain the syrup today. Just reheat the pot, cucumbers and syrup and all, to boiling. Once it’s boiling, you can begin the canning process. (If you’ve never canned before, you should consult a good canning text for all the precautions you need to take in cleaning your jars, etc.) Spoon pickles and syrup into pint jars, completely covering pickles with syrup and leaving 1/2″ of head room. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.