It's not quite the Dog Days of summer yet, but it sure feels like it in East Tennessee! We've had a week straight of 96 plus degree temperatures. I'm not talking the 'feels like' heat index, either, but actual air temperature. With the high humidity, the 'feels like' temperature is well over 100.
So, with hot weather and a garden that's over flowing with cucumbers, what's a body to do? Certainly not stand over a hot stove! So, how about making some freezer pickles?
I opened my first batch of pickles yesterday, and let me tell you, they are hands down the BEST pickles I've ever tasted! And so easy! I got the recipe from my sister, Anita, who got it from our Uncle Jim.
Uncle Jim was my mother's brother. He was a wonderful person! A few years back, I was with my mother in the kitchen when, seemingly from out of nowhere, she asked me who I thought was the most successful man I knew. I immediately said, "Uncle Jim."
Uncle Jim was loved and respected by everyone in his small West Tennessee town. He had a long and happy marriage and was adored by his two girls and all of his grandchildren. He wasn't a rich man, but he wasn't poor either: he made a good, honest living and put both of his daughters through college. He was a deacon in his church but not a religious fanatic. He was, I believe, comfortable in his own skin. He seemed happy and being around him made me feel happy. I don't know how else to describe him other than to say he had good vibes and was a good soul.
He was also a good cook! Not just at the barbecue grill either. Uncle Jim REALLY cooked. He made biscuits and cobblers and spaghetti and fried chicken and ......freezer pickles!
Here's his freezer pickle recipe as Anita gave it to me:
5 cups sliced cukes
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup sliced peppers
Toss the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of UN-iodized salt. Let sit for at least an hour. The salt will leach the liquid out of the vegetables.
Drain the liquid but do not rinse
Bring 2 cups sugar, 1 cup white vinegar, 1Tablespoon mustard seeds and 1 Tablespoon celery seeds to a boil, just long enough so that the sugar completely dissolves.
Pour over the vegetables. Pack in containers (I use the cheap plastic tubs they sell at the grocery store) put in the freezer.
I let my batch marinate in the freezer for two weeks. After at least two weeks, take out of the freezer, thaw and store in the frig until they're gone (which won't be very long!)
You can, and I have, modified this recipe in many different ways. You can leave the onions and peppers out. When I made pickle spears, I cut up seven cups of cukes and left the other veggies out. I also left the celery seeds out because I've never liked celery seeds. You can cut your cukes in rounds or in spears. I've done both. You can pickle all sorts of vegetables this way, not just cukes. So far, I've tried squash, peppers, zucchini, and Anita says carrots are good. I bet those crinkle cut carrot rounds they sell in the produce section would be ideal.
In one batch, I used mustard seeds and fresh garlic. I'm also thinking of trying water melon rind pickles, leaving out both the mustard and celery seeds and using whole cloves instead. This fall, I'm even going to try pickling crisp, tart and firm apple slices (Granny Smith maybe?) substituting apple cider vinegar for part of the white vinegar, maybe using a few ginger slices and cloves too. I bet you could do the same thing with whole, peeled peaches. Every once in a while when I was a little girl, my mother used to buy a jar of pickled peaches. She didn't do that very often because they were expensive. We thought they were a rare treat.
Well, that's what I'm doing with all those cucumbers which Bob is so good at growing. Turns out, he's also good at growing water melons! Much to our surprise, we've noticed the two water melon vines he set out have several little melons, getting fatter by the day. They're supposed to be yellow inside. We've never had those before and aren't exactly sure how big they're supposed to get. And guess what! After WEEKS of being stuck in a hard green limbo , the figs are FINALLY ripening. I harvested my first fig today.
Hope you enjoy Uncle Jim's Freezer Pickle recipe. If you want to share some of your summer recipes, please do! You can write them in the comment section.
Be Well and Good Luck,