I remember when I was little, my Mamaw doing canning and freezing for the winter in June and July. The dreaded days of her coming home with hampers of peas and beans to shell and weeks with my fingernails being green. Instead of sitting around watching television or playing video games we worked, worked for our food, LITERALLY!
For as long as I can remember we had yummy little treats like homemade jam and jelly, homemade ice cream with fresh fruit swirled in and my all time favorite her sweet pickles. Everyone loved them and I could literally eat almost an entire jar. But as time passed, I grew up and was not around when she did her yearly canning and freezing and by the time I was interested in it again, she had stopped and now she has passed away along with all her little tricks and secrets to getting the most out of what you buy. For years, my Mom would can tomatoes for the winter and yet, still, I was not into that. Who wanted to do all that work!?! So now what? I don’t know about you, but I have always been intimidated when the word canning was uttered. All that boiling and scalding your fingers, was it worth it. My response now, absolutely!
So last year I tried making a batch of sweet pickles similar to what Mamaw used to make and decided to add a bit of spice to it. After searching and searching for a good recipe, I found one that I could use as a base and tweak it to my liking. So, still intimidated by the thought of canning, I opted for a refrigerator version of the pickles which means less time to keep but just as flavorful. They went over huge, lots of compliments and requests for more, but by that time the cucumber summer garden bonanza was over and cucumbers were not in season anymore. Well, after my recent weekend of getting out and picking my own fresh produce I decided it was time to make another batch of my pickles but this time I would attempt to can them so I could have more for later. It was really quite simple and much less hassle than I anticipated. Aside from one small splatter burn on my arm, my Sunday of canning went off without a hitch!
Here is the gingermantra Sweet & Spicy Pickle Recipe
- 2 1/2 pounds cucumbers (I did not specifically use pickling cucumbers)
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
- 15-20 whole cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 4 tablespoons pickling spices
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup pickling salt (I used kosher salt)
The day before you are going to make your pickles, slice your cucumbers as desired. I used a special slicing tool that a friend gave me as a birthday gift that gave them the wavy pickle shape like you see in store-bought pickles. In a large bowl, place your pickle slices and cover with pickling salt and cover top with ice and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning remove your cucumber slices from the bowl and rinse thoroughly using a colander several times and set aside.
In a large stock pot combine your sugar, vinegar and all of your spices and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, add your cucumber slices and bring to a boil again for about 2-3 minutes. Make sure to stir your cucumber slices to prevent scorching.
Next, have ready whatever you are going to store your pickles in ready and using a slotted spoon, begin to pack your vessels with the cucumber slices. Once you have distributed all the cucumber slices add the liquid and spices to the jars leaving a half-inch from the top of the jar. If you opt to remove the spices so they are not floating in your vessels once filled, I cannot confirm how well they will continue to flavor themselves. Wipe vessels clean and add lids. Generally, I like to wait at least two days before trying my pickles, but if you cannot wait two days at least wait 24 hours. You want all the flavors to have time to marry together.
This year I plan to try some other pickle recipe variations out including a homemade relish. I’m happy to share the make it yourself recipes. When you make it yourself you know and control what goes in your food!