Minnesota Cooking: Mason Jar Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles
Cucumbers are grown in mounds and hills. A certain amount of space is set aside for a grouping of seeds, and when the resulting seeds germinate and start to grow, the vines will completely fill in the area.
Cucumber vines are prolific and will spread and thicken as far as you will let them. They are constantly adding new tendrils and looking for places to grow. Read below the instructions for a step-by-step picture walkthrough!
- Wash cucumbers, peel and slice onion, cut pepper and remove seeds and stem, slice into slices or rings. Mix and heat brine, prepare lids, fill up water bath canner and bring to a boil, pack washed cucumbers into jars, adding one slice of onion per jar and some slices of pepper.
- Pour brine into jar. Dry off rim of jar. Add lid and ring. Put into water bath canner
- Let cook in water bath canner for 10 minutes after you add your last jar. Remove jars and cool.
Each Blossom Will Become a CucumberClick thumbnail to view full-size
Picking the cucumbers is an arduous task. You must lift up the leaves and peek underneath. The cucumbers will be in varying sizes and there will be new, yellow blossoms growing along side them. Be cautious of the flowers, as the bees will be moving pollen to each one. Each blossom produces a cucumber once it is pollenated, so some days you may see only blossoms and a few days later, will see many cucumbers, or a combination of new cucumbers and blossoms.
It is good to wear a pair of gloves as there are sharp objects on the vines and on the cucumbers themselves. [You will need to wash each cucumber in cool water before you use them]
It is easy to pick cucumbers, just grasp the cucumber next to the vine and bend the vine off of the end. Place in your pail, and repeat for the next cucumber. They will be of varying sizes, as rain, sun and cool weather all add to the variation of the sizes. Pick them all off, as left cucumbers will grow too big and will turn yellow.
Some people use the yellow cucumbers, but usually, the seeds are well developed and most people tend to just create a compost pile and will throw them away there.
Wash Cucumbers in Cool Water
Discard the Ends and Blossoms and Wash Film OffClick thumbnail to view full-size
Wash and Sterilize Your Jars
Since you don't know what has crawled in your jars while you have not been using them, it's a good idea to wash your jars with soap and water, or run them through your dishwasher. If you, like me, do not have a dish washer, fill up a large canning kettle with water, and bring the water to a boil and boil your jars for a few minutes to sterilize.
Packing Each Jar
In the bottom of the jar, I placed a slice of onion. I started placing my cucumbers in the bottom, on end, and squeezed as many as I could into the jar. I also added a strip of green pepper in with the standing cucumbers.
It's good to get the cucumbers as tight as possible. The brine will fill in the spaces, but the cucumbers will shrink as the brine cures them.
Add cucumbers, onions, peppers and hot brine to your jar. Clean the rim. Place a lid on the top, compound side down, and tighten ring to jar.You will hold the lid in place with your finger as you turn the ring, as it is a good idea to not move the compound once it contacts the jar.
Fill Jars One at a Time
I use a funnel to make sure that I capture what I'm pouring into the jar. I use a measuring cup and funnel, and dip hot brine from my pan, and I pour it into the jar. I fill the jar until it touches my funnel. It's supposed to be a half inch from the top of the jar.
It should also cover your cucumbers.
The lid should be hot as well, so the compound is stickier. That helps your lid seal. The whole idea is to have hot brine, cold pickles, and a hot lid, and the hot brine creates a vacuum seal as it cools. There's no sweeter sound in the world than a lid sealing. It's a pinging sound. The metal will ping as it sucks down.
Sometimes I water bath can, sometimes I do not. It depends on how soon we intend to eat the pickles. The first batch, we simply had cold brine and cold cucumbers and poured the brine in the jars and, they did not seal as there was no heat, but the brine pickled the cucumbers so we were able to snack on them by the next day. It's an easy way to find out whether you like the brine, or not.
When I water bath can, I fill the jar, wipe the edge of the jar with a paper towel, place my lid on, and tighten the ring. Then, you lift the jar, with a jar lifter tool and place in the canner, making sure that the jars are completely submerged. It takes a few jars to raise the level of the water, so they won't be completely under the water until you get to the last jar.
Then, set your timer for 10 minutes and at that time, pull them out and place on a towel to cool.
The Brine - Mrs. Wages
This year we decided to get creative and mixed two Mrs. Wages pickle mixes together. We used the Mrs. Wages Bread and Butter Pickle mix and the Mrs. Wages Spicy Pickle Mix. There are instructions on the back of the package, and I used everything that was called for. One package called for sugar, both packages called for vinegar and water.
We added a slice of onion and a couple green peppers to each jar. If we had colored bell peppers, it may have been pretty.
The flavor of the brine, coupled with the onion and pepper, creates a sweet flavor that is really good, but then, there is that slow burn on your tongue from the Spicy mix. The spicy mix has Jalapeno in it.