Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour plus 3 hours for chilling
This recipe was adapted from the 1951 edition of "Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. The combination of green and red in these pickles will remind you of Christmas. Process them in 12-ounce jars and give as gifts. The red bell peppers (green or yellow work fine too) add a bit of sharpness to a smooth and sweet pickle that has been modestly tempered by using both brown and white sugars.
About 4 pounds pickling cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 to 8 onions (3 to 3 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 red bell peppers, cut in 3/4-inch dice
1/2 cup coarse salt
5 cups white wine vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (1-inch) stick cinnamon
* Place cucumbers, onions and peppers in large bowl. Top with salt and cover with weighted lid. Refrigerate 3 hours. (This softens vegetables so they can absorb syrup.) Place vegetables in colander and thoroughly rinse off salt.
* Combine vinegar, grnaulated and brown sugars, turmeric, allspice, mustard seeds, cloves and cinnamon in large stockpot and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Slowly add vegetables with very little stirring. Heat to scalding point, but do not boil, 5 to 7 minutes.
* Divide vegetables among 6 (12-ounce) jars, cover with liquid, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Remove air bubbles by sliding a nonmetallic spatula down the side of the jar and press gently on the food to release any trapped air. Close with two-piece caps. Can according to instructions. Makes about 6 (12-ounce) jars. Each of 30 servings: 40 calories; 239 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.67 gram fiber.
Although canning seems like a lot of trouble, it's not. Just make sure that everything is clean and that you follow directions carefully. Use only Mason jars with two-piece lids. Wash jars in hot soapy water or run them through the dishwasher. Heat the jars before filling them; the "plate warmer" or dry cycle on a dishwasher works well.
You must begin processing immediately after you've filled the jars. First, pack in the vegetables or fruits as tightly as you can without crushing them. Fill the jars with liquid to within 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the top, depending on the recipe. Release any trapped air bubbles by sliding a nonmetallic spatula down the side of the jar, pressing gently on the food.
After closing with two-piece caps, process by submerging jars in simmering 180- to 185-degree water for 30 minutes. Put a tea towel or small rack in the bottom of the canning pot to keep the jars away from direct heat. Cool jars overnight. Test the seal by pressing on the center of the lid. A correctly sealed lid will be very difficult to push. And if it does push, it won't pop back. If the lid presses in and pops back, it is not sealed and must be either reprocessed or refrigerated.
For more information, call the Ball & Kerr home canners help line at (800) 240-3340.