Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Peck of Pickles! - Fresh-Pack Style

There is nothing like a fast-coming fall to keep one busy on a farm!!!

I know this pickle series was supposed to be back-to-back, but time can sure get away from you when there's lots to be done! There are many updates to come so hang in there! Alot has happened in the last couple months and I'll update as soon as I can. We had our first frost the other night and had a swirl of activity to prepare for it!

So, onward with the pickles! I actually made these over a month ago but am not just getting the time to sit down and update the blog!

This is part two of the pickles series. See Peck of Pickles! - Fermented Style for the other half :)

Fresh pack pickles vary in character from the fermented pickles in various ways. The fermented pickles are best for those that like a sour pickle: garlic and dill type flavors. You can also do those in fresh pack, but they are healthier as fermented due to all the wonderful flora from the fermenting process. Fresh pack are a must for a sweet pickle: bread and butter, sweet midgets, etc. You can't achieve those flavors with a fermented process - as far as I know anyway! Please comment if you've done it as I'd like to try that!
Also, a major difference is that fresh pack can sit room temperature in a pantry and not take up fridge space whereas fermented have to stay in the fridge until consumed. So if fridge space is a concern, fresh-pack may be better for you.

So, here are the steps for a Bread and Butter flavor fresh pack style pickle recipe:

1. Fill water canner pot about 3/4 full of water and set to the highest setting. Put in your jars and lids (but not rims while it's still cool. Do not boil them as it can ruin the seals on the lids. Just simmer. Basically you turn on the stove with the pot of water, add jars/lids, and set off to do the other steps while keeping an eye on the pot to make sure the water doesn't boil. A magnetic canning wand is best to get those lids out!

2. Mix your ingredients into a medium saucepan. You can find a nice recipe in a book or online, but being it was the first time we made this style pickle we used a package of spices. Add vinegar and sugar and good to go! Easy!

2.b. For CRUNCHY pickles (yes, this is THE trick) use Ball's Pickle Crisp product or one of their mixes with it in it. I've tried every other trick and this is the only one that works so far!
3. Heat mixture to boiling. Stirring often. mmm...smells good already!

4. When the jars are ready (have been simmer for a little while), pack fresh spears (or slices) into them.

5. When mixture reaches boiling pour it over the cucumbers in the jar. Fill it about 3/4 of the way and then tightly squuueeezzzeee in more spears/slices until it is packed to the max! Then top off the liquid to cover all the cucumbers and leave a tiny bit of headspace before the lid. 
6. Pop on the lid and hand-tighten the rim piece. Place jars on the metal rack for the canner and lower in. Process for the amount of time specified by your recipe (account for elevation if you live in an area requiring it). 

Yummy pickles!!!