I am not a winner of contests.
BUT, I just knew I was going to win one if not both of the contests at the Weaver Heritgage Day Festival this past Saturday. I was certain I was going to be wearing the sash that said I had made the BEST CORNBREAD or had the PRETTIEST PICKLING items. Was certain.
So back in the summer I scouted all over the county looking for Pickling Cucumbers. I handled them in the farmers market, the grocery stores, peoples gardens and everywhere just looking for the perfect pickling cukes. I asked folks about them and was told yeah, these will do......but I didnt buy. Then I called my mother in law that lives in a neighboring county, and she said well you need them to be a certain size and so on. Ok, back on the hunt for the most perfect cucumbers.
I finally was about to give up and I found a local farmer that was selling his wares and one of the produce items he had for sale was cucumbers. They were pretty too. They were green and firm but there was no sign that said they were pickling cucumbers. Now being new to the canning game, I thought you had to have PICKLING CUCUMBERS like that was a breed or a variety special to the recipe. After NOT buying them all these months, I had waited until almost the very last minute to get the job done, and time was wasting fast. So I bit the bullet and finally uttered those words that will live in the lady clerk's memory forevery. I know that because I can still hear her laughing at me. I walked to the counter and placed my money on the counter and asked her point blank when the pickling cucumbers would be in . She said "Honey, they are back there just take as many as you want and think you will need." I looked all over the counter. There was nothing telling me that they were pickling cucumbers, just plain on cukes on a shelf. So I go back and thats when she tells me that ANY cucumber can be pickled. Anything just about can be pickled. And she laughed. Out loud. Long and with a wheeze and a grab at her side. She asked me why I hadnt bought them all the other times I had been in there and I told her I was looking for PICKLING CUCUMBERS. More laughter. Ok, I bought them and came home.
I had gone to the store and gotten the rings, lids, and jars needed for the task. I had the sugar, the recipe the lime and all I needed was the Pickling Spices. Do you know how much they are charging for those things nowadays?
I almost fainted. Thought sure I could get them cheaper at a Dollar store somewhere, so after driving all over the county to save a dollar or less on a bottle of spices and the other stuff it took, I finally got the needed items to start pickling.
Now in the recipe book it says to wash the cucumbers before you put them in the lime water. Ok. I took each and every single cucumber and washed them, not rinsed them but held with one hand on the end and put dish liquid on them and washed them with the other hand. It was a strange motion if you were a neighbor and looked through the window at me doing this jerking motion about my waist high and if you looked from behind it looked strange, but I was indeed washing each and every cucumber with Dawn dish liquid and then rinsing them. Each one of them.
Got them all washed and dried and then I had to cut them into slices. OK. Did that. Put them in the lime water and left them and stirred them as it said. Cant be a metal pan, cant use a metal spoon, has to be a crock, etc. By now I am having some serious doubts about these pickles but I am half in and half out of the chore so might as well go on.
Out of the water they have to come and it said to wash them off, so again, I washed every single slice of limey cucumber. Every individual slice. It took hours. My back and body hurt so bad. Then I had to boil the stuff that goes over the packed jars. Forgot that you have to wash and sterilize the jars before you can pack them. So, I get the slices out of the crock, then have to put them back in the crock while I boil the jars and the lids to pack them. Now the stock pot that I am using to sterilize these jars and lids is several feet tall, so by the time you get it on the stove, its a little hard to work with since I am not a tall person so it called for getting a stool to stand on to stir the jars while they "cooked." No one tells you that they dont have to cook, just boil and sterilize. I cooked the jars and lids until there was no water left. Those were some hot rings, lids and jars. I got a very good steam bath from that incident. Back off the stool and back to the chips in the crock. Back and forth. I had seen this same movement of step up step down in videos of people trying to lose weight but had no idea you had to do this to make pickles.
Ok, we are now ready to put the clean jars on the counter and pack the slices in them. Did that. Got the sugary, spicy mixture in each jar and then sealed them and put them into their hot bath.
Back out, drained and ready to sit and listen to the jars seal. I was so excited.
The jars sealed and I was the proud owner of 12 pint jars of sweet/spicy pickles. I am so happy. And I am worn out.
So my lesson learned and the cost of the lesson was:
Cucumbers of almost any size can be pickled. They DO NOT have to have a sign on them that say Pickling cucumbers. :Price paid: $6.43 for 2 gallons of gas spent trying to find the perfect cucumbers with a sign that says PICKLING cukes.HOT WATER TO WASH EVERY SINGLE CUCUMBER AND SLICES 3 times each: $26.36 according to the Water Works and Sewer Board Bill I got for last month. JARS LIDS RINGS $30 Trips to find Jars, lids, rings, lime, $5.23 in gas.SUGAR $7 Vinegar $6 Spices $4
Now, looks to me like they could have made a sash that said Most Expensive Pickles. Then I would have won. So guess next year I just need to start earlier and them others better be worried cause this next year, I am taking home the ribbon for something............just see.