My Grandma Smith was known by her friends, family, and acquaintances as the BEST pickle maker. Every weekend or holiday that we spent at grandma’s was sure be highlighted by several different varieties of pickles. There were dills, sweet gherkins, mustard pickles, bread and butter pickles, and I’m sure a few other types that I’m forgetting. Grandma was a wonderful cook and her canning skills were amazing! I remember her still canning when she was in her 80’s. It was ingrained in her to put up produce from the garden and not let it go to waste. I learned to can from her and from my mom and I’m so thankful that I did!
There have been some summer’s when I have dreaded all the extra work that canning and freezing present, because it all seems to come ripe in a short few weeks. It can really feel like a bombardment! This year, however, I have set in my heart to enjoy this bountiful blessing. Last year’s late freeze that took out all the fruit blossoms and then the summer drought showed me what it was like to do without. There was a bit of conviction taking place in my heart. How foolish of me to complain about an abundance. Having less to can and freeze last year made me focus my attention back upon the blessings that God gives through my garden. And this year we have been truly blessed! Every time I set foot in the garden I am amazed at the growth and goodness taking place there!
In my garden the beans and limas are thriving. This year I planted a dried bean variety, too. I am patiently waiting for the plants to dry down so that I can open up the pods! I am excited to see how this adventure of growing red beans for dry storage will play out.
Our corn is especially vigorous! I have picked over 100 ears already! We are eating a lot of fresh sweet corn and sharing the abundance, too. I’ve been freezing quite a bit and have a good start on quart bags of frozen corn for this winter.
Check out my helper! She makes our bags look pretty! Not only does she get to work on her numbers (check out the 3’s!) but she puts sweet little critters on the bags, too. There were kitties, bunnies, doggies, chickens, and cows on our bags!
The cucumbers have me scratching my head in amazement. Last year I planted a new variety and was thrilled at the production even with the drought. This year I stand out there filling huge bowls every other day and laughing at the amount of cucumbers on my plants. We have been eating LOTS of cucumbers in all ways imaginable, I’ve pickled all that I know we will use (and probably more), and I’m hauling bags here and there to share with neighbors, friends, and family!
Here is a helper, of sorts, who has figured out how to fly over the three strands of electric fence around our garden. Doesn’t she look so pretty and you can practically see the curiosity oozing out of her! So far she hasn’t done much damage, just a few ears of corn with the tops pecked off! I actually love having her in the garden with me. She talks so softly to me and it blends so nicely with the cicadas song and with Little Miss’s own rendition of “Jesus Loves Me”.
Now that you have indulged me by looking at my garden photos here is the BEST bread and butter pickle recipe EVER!
Grandma Smith’s Bread and Butter Pickles
16 cups of sliced (unpeeled) cucumbers
8 small onions sliced into rings
Place onions and cucumbers in a large bowl sprinkle with 1/2 cup canning salt. Cover with ice cubes and let set 3 hours.
In a stock pot combine:
5 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cloves
5 cups apple cider vinegar
Bring the brine to a boil. Drain and rinse the cucumbers and onions. Add the cucumbers and onions to the brine and bring back to a boil. Fill hot jars with cucumbers, onions, and brine. Leave 1/4 inch head space. Process in a hot water bath 10 minutes. (Start your count time after the water in the canner has returned to a boil.)
Yield: 6-7 pints