The cucumbers are producing like mad and I was able to put up four quarts of refrigerator pickles this last weekend. Long time readers may remember that I used to can our pickles, but now I only make fridge pickles because we like the texture so much better. But I also really like how quick and easy they are – it makes it so easy to be able to put a quart – or four – up at a time as the cucumbers are ripening.
Putting up pickles this way is as simple as filling the jars with dill, garlic, and dried hot peppers (we like ours spicy).
And then shoving as many cleaned, scrubbed, and blossom-end-cut-off cucumbers as you can into each jar.
I have a bit of a strategy for filling the jars: I put the bigger cucumbers that my family likes and we slice for burgers in vertically, then I add a couple medium sized cucumbers horizontally, placing a few of my favorite tiny cucumbers all around and on top of the medium cukes.
That way, when I open a jar, I get to eat all the little guys on top to get to the bigger pickles.
Yep, I plan things like that.
While you’re packing the cucumbers, heat vinegar, water, salt and spices on the stove to boiling and let it simmer for a few minutes (read how to make Garlic Dill Pickles for the full recipe). After filling the jars with the pickling liquid, attach canning lids with screw bands (this is the time to reuse the last year’s canning lids, as the jars are not going to be processed). Oh, and just for good measure I like to add another dill head to the top of the jars.
Aren’t they pretty? I love our pickles. I can’t remember the last time I bought pickles. And why would I when these are so simple and I can adjust them to our tastes (like adding hot peppers)?
The other preserving we did over the weekend (and I can say “we” because I taught my daughter to make it-woot!) was making and freezing our first batches of “Frugal” Pesto (do you remember what secret ingredient makes this frugal?). We put up eight little jars, and the basil is looking lovely, so I know we’ll get quite a bit more before the season ends.
We like to have 20-25 little jars to see us through the winter, ’cause homemade pesto on artisan bread in February is like a little burst of summer for your senses.
What have you been “putting up” from your garden (or CSA, or farmer’s market) produce?