It would be an understatement to say this is favorite time of the year. I’m in heaven when my garden starts to produce and my kitchen is full of fresh vegetables.
My task this afternoon will be to pick cucumbers in our backyard patch. We’ve been eating fresh cukes for about two weeks, and I’m finally getting ready to harvest some "picklers." We plan on putting up a few quarts of dill pickles this summer and some "bread and butters" — but not nearly as many as we have the past two years. We’ve just barely finished our pickles from the 2008 season, so our supply is pretty good.
One kind that I’m mulling over making is a 14-day variety of sweet pickles. I made a batch of them last year for the first time in many seasons. I believe the last time was with an old friend, Dan Rylance. That must have been more than 15 years ago.
Last summer’s turned out so good (we been enjoying the first jar the past couple of weeks) that I am almost certain that they once again will be on the canning agenda.
Making 14-day sweet pickles requires just that — 14 days. There is a lot of monkey business involved as Therese likes to call it, but as we’ve discovered since opening the first jar, it’s well worth it.
Here’s the recipe, if you’d like to try you hand at making them. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
14-Day Sweet Pickles
4 pounds pickling cucumbers, 2 to 5 inches long
¾ cup canning or pickling salt
6 quarts water
4 cups vinegar at 5 percent acidity
5½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 tablespoons pickling spices
Wash cucumbers, slice off blossom end; trim stem to ¼-inch long. Bring to a boil ¼ cup salt and 2 quarts water in a large kettle and pour over cucumbers in 1-gallon container. Cover, weight and cover again with clean towel. Maintain temperature of about 70 degrees and let rest 2 days.
On the third day, drain cucumbers, rinse them and resterilize cover and weight. Return cucumbers to container; bring to a boil ¼ cup salt and 2 quarts water in a large kettle and pour over cucumbers; replace cover, weight and clean towel. Repeat this procedure on Day 5. On Day 7, drain cucumbers, rinse them and resterilize container, cover and weight. Slice cucumbers and return to container. Combine vinegar and 2 cups sugar in a large kettle, add spices in spice bag and bring to a boil. Pour over cucumbers, cover, weight and cover with clean towel.
On each of the next six days, follow this procedure: Drain and reserve syrup and spice bag. Resterilize container, cover and weight. Add an additional ½ cup sugar with spice bag and pour over cucumbers. Cover, weight and cover with a clean towel.
On the 14th day, drain syrup into large kettle, add ½ cup sugar and bring to a boil. Pack cucumbers into hot, sterilized pint jars and pour over boiling syrup (removing spice bag), leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal and process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.