I am doing a cucumber trellis this year. Isn’t this cool!
Yesterday, on the farm, in my farmhouse kitchen, we had a working day of an old time tradition of changing cucumbers into pickles. Finally, I had cucumbers to pick from my garden. Usually I do long before now, but this weather, this year, has deemed a different growing season, won’t you agree? Still I revisited another lesson, learned on the farm.
I remember back in the day, when Mom used to make Bread & Butter Pickles and dills too. As a child I loved those crunchy, sweet pickles with onions in the jar. I still do, however, I recently paid seven-dollars at the Amish store for a quart and ate them up really fast. That is a little expensive for my liking so I vowed,
If I get enough cucumbers, I am going to can some of these myself.
Cucumbers in the farm garden. Can’t they see they are suppose to use the trellis.
I have been gathering cucumbers all week so I called Mom and asked if she wanted to get together to can some Bread & Butter Pickles. She said yes. But when I asked what I needed besides jars, spices and cucumbers and onions, she added, ” Do you have pickling salt and ice? The recipe I use, says to soak the cucumbers for three hours in this solution?”
“Seriously?” I asked. ” I was hoping to get them canned today,” I replied, rather impatiently and discouraged. I was thinking, If you add in the time to prep and three hours to soak, it would take us half a day for a few jars of pickles. There has to be an easier way. Gees, there’s got to be a quicker method.
“Tell you what, Mom, I’ll go on the Internet and find an alternative. I don’t want to add three hours prep time. That will take us all day to do this. Surely there is a modern way around this. I saw a microwave recipe once. Maybe that would be better and faster. I’ll call you back.”
I found oodles of recipes on the Internet, over and over requiring the soak. I also, found the microwave recipe, which was for a single jar of pickles and must be stored in the refrigerator for not more than four weeks. Not ta. I want mine to keep all winter so that wouldn’t do.
August is Ball’s canning party month. Click to check out the details.
Then I went on the Ball Canning & Preserving website and found out they have a new mixture that makes pickles crisp without having to soak them. Hallelujah! I’m in. So I called Mom back and told her excitedly, IT’S ON,explaining what I had found out and that I was now headed to Kroger’s to get some pickling mix. Yippee!
Unfortunately, would you believe they were sold out of the familiar Ball brand pickling mix I had seen on the web. Just my luck today, I shook my head, invisioning everyone else in town knew what I had just found out, and were at home making pickles with this obviously, popular pickling mix. Shoot!
Mrs. Wages brand pickling mix was on the shelf, too. I didn’t know who Mrs. Wages was nor had I heard of her before? Or if I could trust her. Not sure at all. Well, truth of the matter is, beggars can’t be choosers, I thought, so I snagged one from the shelf. Problem solved, or so I thought.
Ok. I do like Mrs. Wages. The pickles are awesome! Click to view her website with recipes and more.
At home, reading out loud to Mom from the packet, I was devastated when it calls for nine to eleven-pounds of cucumbers per packet mix. Oh, dear me I don’t have that many cucumbers, even though Avah and I added a few more cucumbers just this morning.
That tid-bit of discouraging information could have easily stopped us in our tracks and the canning party could have been called off, but not for this farm girl. I was determined since early morning to get these pickles pickled.
“Well, Mom, there’s only one thing we can do. We are going to improvise,” a term I was very familiar with both then and now on the farm. She smiled and nodded. She, too, knew all to well what that word meant. Life is full of improvisations, is it not?
Pickling Spice in vinegar and sugar.
So I shook the bag up, to fully mix well the spice mixture, then measured the mixture- three-quarters of a cup. Weighing our basket of cucumbers on the digital bathroom scale-three pounds. I divided the pickling mix by three because I had only a third amount of cucumber poundage, and did the math equation for all the other ingredients, testing my fraction capabilities! I wrote this down on a slip of paper and placed it in the baggy with the unused pickling spice packet, labeled it, small batches. My $2.63 cent bag, will allow me to make three small batches of Bread & Butter Pickles without the soaking process; my intent at the beginning of this process. Right!
Well done Mom.
The assembly line in the farmhouse kitchen went like this, Mom was slicing cucumbers and onions as I sterilized the jars, set up the water-bath canner and made the pickling solutions on the stove. Avah was helping wherever she could squeeze in and often times taking pictures like she sees me do for this blog.
EASY Bread & Butter Pickles. Note to self: The smell of the vinegar based solution is strong. So strong that Mom had to cover her nose while she poured it in the jars. Too funny!
And let me be the first to tell you, the small batch worked out in our favor. We made seven pints of pickles. The water bath canner holds exactly seven in its wire rack and best of all, we were done in less than two hours total. We do have to wait twenty-four hours to allow them to season. I can hardly wait to taste them.
Seeing those pickles on the counter this morning really made my spirit dance!
Once again, later that day, I heard the musical “pop, pop, pop” of the jars sealing in my farmhouse kitchen. And with a smile on my face and a victory in my favor, I mentally noted: Make blackberry jelly next week? Why not. Sounds like a plan.
So here’s the thing: Often times, on the farm and with life you have to improvise: to make things work with what you have to work with. So true isn’t it? And Mother Nature and Father Time are always around, often creating the need for our need to improvise. If you don’t learn to improvise, you’re missing a valuable opportunity and a valuable life lesson to not easily give up. Don’t you agree? Take Joy! Sherry
P.S. The pickles taste fabulous. Thanks Mrs. Wages!!!!