Thank goodness my pickles are resting comfortably in 24 bottles on my kitchen counter. I'll take a few bottles down to the cold cellar each time I need to go to the basement on other errands.
Day 6 was easy: just drain the syrup off, bring it to a boil again and pour it back over the cukes.
Day 7 was long. I had a doctor's appointment in the morning, so I didn't get started till well after lunch. I finished at 9:30 last evening.
I had to run to the store for more caps I'd forgotten to pick up on my way back from my appointment. Then I had to make three trips to the cold cellar to bring my canning jars up. Next I washed them again (I always wash them thoroughly before I put them away, but I like to be scrupulous about them and they've been collecting dust for a year.), and put them into the oven to sterilize. Many experts will tell you not to sterilize bottles in the oven because it weakens the glass, but my canning kettle will accommodate only seven bottles at a time. With so many bottles to be done, I couldn't afford the time.
Then I drained the cukes and brought the syrup to a boil again before pouring it back over the cucumbers, one batch at a time. I left them to sit for half an hour in order to warm the cukes before draining them yet again. I brought the syrup back to a boil while I packed the hot jars with warm cukes. Then I poured the boiling syrup into each jar and topped each jar with a cap that had been warming in hot water on the back of the range and screwed the ring on tightly. I listened happily as each cap popped when the jars cooled, ensuring a good seal.
I think I've mentioned before that I'm a messy cook. Well, yesterday was no exception. In fact, I think I was worse than usual. Being really short (5'0"), I always find it difficult to lift the heavy kettles of syrup and pour it carefully into my canning funnel. I managed to splash the syrup all over the place. I wiped the counter as I went, but left the floor till I can take a mop to it. By 9:30, I was almost stuck to the floor. Soooo - today's chores?? Give the kitchen a thorough cleaning. I must get started. Have a wonderful day, folks.
I drove to town to buy pickling spice this morning. Still in a snit, I decided to to a big shopping while I was at it. Even taking the cost of gas into consideration, I'm sure I saved money over buying here in the village.
I also went to one of the big electronics shops and purchased an external hard drive to back up my computer. Up to this point, I've been using flash drives, but I've been given to understand that they can fail sometimes. I lost all my digital photos the last time my computer crashed, and I certainly don't want that to happen again. But more importantly, I need to ensure that C's business records don't disappear on me. They're backed up on CD's and on a flash drive, but I'll feel more secure knowing they'll be backed up on this new device.
When I got home, I made up three more spice bags, poured the brine off the cucumbers and brought it to a boil again before pouring it back over the cukes. It's a heavy job lifting those big containers, particularly the crockery ones, but I'm comforted by the fact that I'll have to do it only three more times. I'm also looking forward to having all my counter space back and to having lots of pickles in my cold cellar.
I simply can't believe it! When I went to our local grocery store, it was sold out of pickling spice. I've always felt strongly about supporting our local businesses. If they can't generate a decent income in a small village, they'll go elsewhere. Therefore, I pay higher prices than I would if I were to drive 15 miles to either of the large towns close by. I've always considered the convenience worth it. But not today!! I used what spice I had on hand - enough for one batch of brine - and tomorrow I'll have to drive to town to get some more. Actually, put the spice bag into each of the four batches as I brought them to a boil. At least that should have imparted some flavour to each. Tomorrow I'll make three more bags.
I'm concerned about Redzey. Have any of you heard from her? It's been more than a month since her last post in which she mentioned that there were numerous forest fires close to her home. I PM'd her a couple of days ago, but have had no response. Perhaps we need to keep her in our prayers.
Today's efforts towards finishing my pickles SHOULD have been easy. Just drain the pickles, sprinkle each container with alum, and cover them with boiling water again.
Because I can be an absolute airhead sometimes, it was more time-consuming than it ought to have been. I knew I had two containers of alum when I finished pickling last year. I THOUGHT they'd be in my spice drawer. They weren't. Then I remembered that I had taken them out at that time to make room for other spices. You'd think I'd have put them in some logical place like my canning drawer or the little basket where I keep my bulk spices. Were they there? NOT!! So after searching for half an hour, I had to run to the grocery store to get some more. I was so annoyed with myself, I forgot to buy the sugar and vinegar I'll need tomorrow. My frustration causes me a lot of grief. Now I'll have to go back for the other stuff I need, and I have no one to blame but myself.
Besides the fact that C and the rest of my family really like these pickles, they are very easy to make and represent a lot of nostalgia for me. As Witt says, "There are all kinds of ways to make pickles, but it seems the old-fashioned way is the best." My grandmother made these pickles when I was very young, and I'm simply carrying on the tradition. This tradition may die with me, though. My daughters are far too busy (and likely too affluent) to learn to pickle and can. I often wonder how they manage to accomplish all they must do in today's world.
Today was one of the easiest days. All I did was drain the cukes and cover them once more with boiling water.
Trinity, there are lots of other recipes, most of which are much quicker. One of the things I like about this particular recipe is that they are ready to eat as soon as they're finished. Several others of my recipes require a month or more after bottling before they've developed enough flavour.
The tip on washing cucumbers in the washing machine was a wonderful one!! I had some concerns about damaging my machine, but I had forgotten that cukes float. Hence, no damage to the cucumbers nor to my machine. I did half a bushel at a time and the entire bushel was squeaky clean without any prickles in 6 minutes. The biggest problem was lugging them down to the basement and back up again. If only I had a main floor laundry room!!!
I generally cut them up at my kitchen counter, but my legs have been aching a lot lately, so I sat down in front of the TV to do that. I'm not sure if these were a different variety or if it is because it's late in the season, but the cukes were larger and the skins tougher than I'm accustomed to. When I have my own cucumbers, I pick them at about 5" long and 3/4" in diameter and I do a single batch at a time. That means that I have a huge crockery bowl or two on my counter for about six weeks. Today, after four hours of work, eight batches occupy much of the counter space, but they'll be there for only a week. I had to press both halves of my extra large roast pan into service along with my crockery bowls and my stock pot.
On Day One, the cukes are covered in boiling water with large, heavy plates on top to keep them from floating up. I allowed one pot of water to boil for longer than I ought to have, and the steam set my smoke alarm off. I'll have to be more careful in future, because I hate the sound of that thing. It's enough to wake the dead.