By Alison Strachan
After two gloriously hot weeks in late July, I’m starting to think ahead to the vegetables now starting to make their way to markets across the province.
Late summer and fall transforms my beloved Wolf stove into a powerhouse churning out pot after pot of canned goods that end up as Thanksgiving gifts at family gatherings. When my eyes see the pickling cucumbers start to arrive, as they did this week at the South Shore’s famed ‘Bob and the Boys’ or Western Shore’s ‘Glyda’s Fruit and Vegetables’, I start thinking about those late summer days of preparation.
My sweet ‘bread and butter’ pickle recipe includes cauliflower and one chopped red pepper. Don’t be overwhelmed by the ingredient list that looks like it is meant to feed a small village. The salting and ice water process seems to shrink the ingredients.
After gifting at least a dozen jars over the fall and winter, I popped the lid of my last remaining bottle last weekend for a halibut supper. So, it’s time to start putting together more for next year. This recipe should fill 10 – 15 jars of goodness.
Alison’s very own ‘traditional’ sweet ‘bread and butter’ pickles
4 lbs small cucumbers, sliced thin
8 small onions, sliced thin
1 large red pepper cubed into 1/4″ pieces
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into 1″ florets.
1/2 cup pickling salt
4 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 tbsp mustard seed
2 tsp celery seed
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp crushed cloves
Note: you can omit the red pepper and cauliflower but if you do, reduce the amount of vinegar to 4 cups.
Combine the cucumbers, red pepper, cauliflower, onions, and salt in a large stainless steel, glass, or ceramic mixing bowl
Cover with crushed ice (I don’t bother crushing it) and mix well. Let stand for three hours. Drain, rinse and drain again.
In a large heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, combine the sugar, vinegar, and seasonings. Bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add the cucumber mixture; return to a boil and then remove from heat.
Ladle the hot mixture into sterilized hot pint jars to within 1/2 to 1 inch of the rim. Remove air bubbles by gently stirring with a stainless steel fork or butter knife. Wipe rims and cover with sealing lids.
Process for 15 minutes in boiling water canner (I don’t have a bona fide canner; I use a turkey roaster over two gas burners to do this – it’s called improvising with what’s at hand).