Saturday, August 4, 2012

Extra-Crisp Bread and Butter Pickle Slices
from "Fancy Pantry" by Helen Witty

12 firm, fresh pickling cucumbers (6-inches long)
1 gallon cool water
1 cup pickling lime
64 ounces apple cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
1 tablespoon fine non-iodized salt
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1-1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 quart of sliced onions, cut 1/4-inch thick

Wash cucumbers. Cut off and discard both ends, then cut cucumbers into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Measure cool water into a ceramic, stainless steel or other non-reactive container (do not use an aluminum container) and stir in the pickling lime very thoroughly. It will not dissolve completely. Add sliced cucumbers, stir, cover, and set aside overnight or for up to 24 hours. Stir them once or twice.

Drain the cucumbers into a colander. Return them to the rinsed out container and rinse them in three more batches of cool water, stirring them well as you do so. Drain them again and add cool water to cover them by an inch or two. Set them aside for three hours.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and other seasonings in a non-reactive saucepan. Heat the mixture to boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves, then boil it, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the cucumbers well and return them to the first container along with the sliced onions. When the syrup has boiled 5 minutes, pour it over the slices. Stir the slices gently, then push them under the surface, cover the bowl with a towel, and set it aside overnight.

Transfer the cucumbers and syrup to a large preserving pan and cook the whole business, covered, over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally (be careful not to break the brittle slices), until the cucumbers are translucent, 20 to 30 minutes.

Using a funnel, spoon, long fork or tongs, arrange the pickle slices in 8 hot, clean pint canning jars, leaving about 1/2-inch of headspace. Divide the spices from the syrup among the jars, then add boiling-hot syrup to reach 1/4-inch from rims. Remove any bubbles and add more syrup, if necessary. Seal the jars with two-piece canning lids and process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Cool, label and store the jars. Be sure to let the pickles mellow for 4-6 weeks, then chill before opening.

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