I think pickles are a pretty good learning-to-can project. Not too complicated or time-consuming. Of course I started canning twelve years ago and only learned to make pickles last year, so what do I know?
This recipe came from my friend Kelly, who found it amidst her Grandmother’s recipes. There were no amounts given other than for the vinegar and sugar, so what follows is my interpretation. I’m not including basic canning instructions, but you can find all sorts of information with google, get yourself the Ball Blue Book, or start here.
Bread and Butter Pickles
10 pickling cucumbers (these are not the cucumbers you normally buy in the grocery store)
3 small-medium onions
5 cups vinegar
4 cups sugar
Sterilize your jars and lids. (New lids, please, unless you have fancy re-usables.)
Cut the ends off your cucumbers and discard. Leaving the blossom end, in particular, on can cause your pickles to be floppy instead of firm. Nobody wants that.
You’ll be standing your pickles up in whatever size canning jar you want to use, so cut rounds off one end of each cucumber until the rest of the cucumber is the right length to stand in the jar. Don’t discard those rounds! They’ll make excellent pickles to tuck into grilled cheese sandwiches.
Once the cucumber is your desired length, cut it in half and then in pickle-sized slices.
I like to toss my rounds in one bowl and my spears in another.
Next you’ll slice up your onions and add them to the cucumbers.
Salt the onions and cucumbers and let them sit for one hour.
About 40 minutes into the hour, bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil.
Add celery seed, mustard seed, and turmeric to the vinegar and sugar.
I know, I didn’t give you any amounts. Don’t panic! Put in what looks good to you. I’d say I just fill the cup of my hand with celery seed, fill it completely with mustard seed, and cover the surface of the vinegar with turmeric. Really, though, trust your instinct. You may not get the exact same flavor every time you make them, but that’s ok. These are not Vlasics.
Let that mixture simmer.
Your hour’s probably about up, so squeeze any excess water out of your cucumbers and onions.
Pack the cucumbers and onions into your canning jars, and cover with the vinegar/sugar/spices.
Slap on your lids and process 10 minutes in water bath.