Monday, June 8, 2009
As promised here is a great recipe that I used to make sweet pickles. The best part is you can freeze them in a container which is a great way to use up cucumbers. This recipe is much easier since you don't have to mess with canning or jars. You just divvy them up in freezer containers. This would be a wonderful gift for anyone that loves homemade sweet pickles.
I have some of the ingredients pictured above, but not all of them. Here is the actual recipe which I used. This comes from a cookbook named 25 Years of Cooking; Women of the Farm Bureau. This cookbook has lots of really great recipes. I plan to use the Zucchini bread one from this book. My mother-in-law has used it so I know it's a very tasty bread.
7 cups of unpeeled cucumbers thinly sliced into chips
1 cup of chopped green pepper
1 cup of thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon of salt
Stand 2 hours then drain
1 teaspoon Celery seed
2 cups sugar
1 cup vinegar
Combine and bring to boil. Let cool and cover slices. Refrigerate for 2-3 days and then put into containers. Pour juice to cover slices and thaw in refrigerator for 1 day before using.
As you can see below I sliced the cucumbers as thinly as I can like a chip. It's not always easy to cut thinly since it depends on the size of the cucumber. I did use chopped onion since I already had a couple of bags frozen. They will thaw out as you let them stand. I also have a picture of the bell pepper I cut. I do have a hand chopper that I use which makes them fine. I cut them up into smaller pieces which makes it easier to chop.
Now you can see that I have measured out 7 cups of cucumbers. I highly recommend tasting each one as you slice them. I had several that were very sour. You can use them I guess, but sour cukes don't taste good to me and are very bitter. I think when the vines are finishing up, the last few are sour. I had to compost them. I then add the onion and pepper. I just mix them up by hand. Then you add the tablespoon of salt. I prefer to just sprinkle it on top so I don't get too much in one spot. Now just let them sit on the counter or stove for 2 hours.
This next step is to make the syrup that you will pour over the cucumber slices. I usually make this in the last 10 minutes before draining off the water. It doesn't take long for this to boil, and I let it cool off for about 3-4 minutes. The reason I don't let it cool off too long is I found it thickens the longer it sits. You don't want the juice to thicken too much. I put 2 cups of sugar in a heavy saucepan. I have a Magnalite which works perfectly. Then I add the teaspoon of celery seed and finally the cup of vinegar. I used plain white vinegar. In the first picture you can see the sugar, and in the second picture is the result after it boils. You can see it looks like a syrup on the spoon. The celery seed just kind of sits on top. I think on the next batch, I'm going to just add the celery seed to the slices and then pour the syrup. At least it wouldn't clump when trying to scrape it out the pot. Make sure to drain off the slices before pouring the syrup mixture.
This is the final product. You will definitely want to use a bowl with a lid. I used a Tupperware bowl which worked perfectly. I let it sit for a few more minutes to make sure it's cooled off before putting in the refrigerator. I didn't have any problems with it smelling inside my fridge. You let it sit for 2-3 days before dividing into containers. The mixture does resemble more of a juice after it sat in the fridge. Just make sure to pour enough in each container to cover the slices. We were able to divide them into 3 small containers. It was a great inexpensive recipe to make. The cost of your cucumbers should be very little if you are using ones you grew yourself. I didn't grow any green peppers this year so I spent $0.66 for two of them on sale. My onions were free since they were given to me. I used 50 cents worth of cucumber seed and picked close to 60 cukes this year. So that's about a penny each. I think I sliced at least 5-6 cucumbers per batch. Each batch has cost me $1.10 which makes 24 oz or three 8 oz containers. The same size jar of pickle chips on sale is $1.69 or a little over $5 for the same amount. I'm saving $1.32 a jar this way, and my pickles are much tastier. I broke down the amounts so it could cost someone else less or more depending on the prices of your ingredients.
Cucumbers- $0.06 for 6
Bell Pepper- $0.33
Onion- $0 (free)
Sugar- $0.36 (2 cups)
Vinegar- $0.16 (1 cup)
Celery Seed- $0.18 (tsp)
Salt- $0.01 (tbs)