Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Great Big Canning Adventure: Zucchini Pickles

This year, I decided to add a new layer onto my canning experience. I learned a lot last year, canning jams and tomatoes. This year I am going to take it to a new level and try my hand at pickles. The first pickles I made were Zucchini Bread and Butter Pickles. This is a modified recipe from what can be found in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

6 medium sized zucchini, sliced how you prefer (I did half spears and half round slices- you should have about 16 cups of sliced zucchini)
7 small onions, sliced
2 medium sweet green peppers, finely diced and partially seeded
1/3 cup canning salt
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons whole mustard seed
1 tablespoon powdered mustard seed
1 tablespoon pickling seasoning
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon peppercorns
2 cups white vinegar with 5% accidity
2 cups apple cider vinegar with 5% accidity

First I sliced the zucchini. The original recipe called for 16 small zucchini, but I was not able to find any small ones. So I used fewer medium sized zucchini instead. Half of them I cut long wise, similar to making carrot sticks, to make pickle spears. The other half, I sliced into rounds so that we could have pickles for sandwiches. I placed all of the zucchini and the other vegetables in a very large bowl together, and sprinkled the salt over top of them. Then I attempted to stir everything so that the salt was evenly distributed through the veggies. There wasn't enough room even in my larger bowl, so I took some out and salted them in a smaller bowl before adding them back to the larger bowl.
After mixing the salt through the veggies, I covered them with ice and let them stand for about four hours.
I drained the ice water off of the veggies and combined the remaining ingredients into a large stock pot. I brought it to a boil and added the veggies. At first I had only used 2 cups of white vinegar and one cup of cider vinegar, but I was concerned that there wasn't enough liquid once I added the veggies to the pot. So that is when I added another cup. I brought the liquid back to a boil and turned down the heat to simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables had been sitting in the salt, I sterilized the jars in the dishwasher and did not open the door, to keep the jars hot. I packed the veggies into the hot jars, separating the spears from the slices. I left 1/4 inch headspace between the veggies and top of the jar. I ladled the hot liquid over the vegetables, making sure to include stray onions and spices, leaving 1/4 inch head space. I used the opposite end of the head spacer to slide down the side of the jars and release air bubbles. There were quite a few of them, so I don't recommend skipping this step!! I wiped the rims with a damp cloth and positioned the lids and the rings. I processed the jars in a boiling water canner for ten minutes.

The pickles will need to brine in the jars for at least four weeksbefore they acquire their full-on flavor. We took a sneak peak taste as I was putting them into the jars, and they tasted fantastic (albeit weak) No one can wait until they are done and we can open our first jar four weeks from now!

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