Every sandwich needs a pickle! Preserve your own Sweet Sandwich Pickles using a water bath canning method – easy and inexpensive too! Both zucchini and cucumbers will work in this recipe!
In our home, pickles are like candy, but I’m the only one who likes Sweet Sandwich Pickles. The others like dill pickles only! Either way, pickles seem to disappear so quickly. Now, I know McKenna is quite the lover of pickles, and oftentimes, will pull the jar out of the fridge and eat a few pickles as a snack. As for me and John.e, we tend to like pickles on sandwiches or served with some crackers and cheese. We very rarely just munch on a plain pickle right out of the jar.
There are many kinds of pickles, but the most common are dill pickles, and in contrast, a sweet pickle. Last year, I made Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles, and these Sweet Sandwich Pickles were inspired by those zucchini pickles. This time, I used cucumbers rather than zucchini.
DON’T LIKE CUCUMBERS? USE ZUCCHINI!
Now, if you prefer zucchini over cucumbers, you can use zucchini in this recipe too. I find that with pickles, the two are interchangeable without affecting the overall taste. I used cucumbers simply because they were on sale at the time I was preparing this recipe.
When I was preparing the cucumbers, I sliced them very thinly – just between 1/8th and 1/4 inch thick. And, I also sliced them on a diagonal just because I thought they looked a little better that way. Keep in mind that I used mini cucumbers, so if they were sliced straight across, the pickle slices would be quite small.
MINI CUCUMBERS ARE PERFECT FOR THIS RECIPE!
Now, you can use regular-sized cucumbers if you wish. That’s entirely up to you. But, the skin on mini cucumbers is a little more delicate so you’ll end up with a more pliable pickle after it has been sitting in the brine. If you’re looking for a crunchy pickle, this is not it. These pickles are thin and soft. They’re perfect for a sandwich with just the right amount of sweetness and tartness.
I will put these pickles on just about any sandwich I make. They’re great on burgers too. You can even add a few to a salad! One of my favourite ways to enjoy these pickles is in tuna salad. Just roughly chop up about a quarter of a cup and stir them into your tuna salad. They add so much flavour to a basic tuna salad recipe.
WATER BATH CANNING METHOD
Like all of my canning recipes, these Sweet Sandwich Pickles require only a water canner. The water bath canning method is my canning method of choice. I’ve never canned anything in a pressure canner. Now, I know there are canning professionals who advise against using a water bath canning method, but I assure you, all of my canning recipes have been tried and tested and have never failed me.
If you’re worried, don’t be. The amount of vinegar and sugar used in this recipe creates the perfect amount of preservatives. Water bath canning is widely used in recipes that are high in sugar and acid content. The cider vinegar in this recipe provided an adequate amount of acid levels to ensure safe eating until you run out of your newly stocked pantry.
HOW TO WATER BATH CAN
STEP 1: PREPARING THE JARS
Some canners say that if you need to boil the jars longer than 10 minutes, then you don’t need to sterilize the jars. I say no! Canning is not as simple and cheap as frying an egg. It takes time, and investment if you don’t already have the equipment. Eliminate any risk whatsoever by always sterilizing your jars. It’s easy to do and your Sweet Sandwich Pickles will thank you! Wash the jars in hot, soapy water. Rinse the jars well under running water to get rid of any soap residue.
Transfer the jars to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Using a jar wrench/lifter, lift the jars out of the water, tilting to pour out the water. Be careful; it’s hot! Stand the jar up on a baking sheet. Once all of the jars are on the baking sheet, place them into your preheated oven at 200 degrees F. This will keep them hot and away from any contamination.
STEP 2: PREPARING THE SEALS AND RINGS
Mason jars are equipped with three parts. The first is the jar. The second and third parts combine to form the lid. The flat disc with the rubber ring on the bottom is the seal. Finally, the circular part that actually screws onto the jar is called a screw band. Depending on the brand or the recipe you’re reading, the names of these things can vary. But, they all do the same thing.
The screw bands never come in contact with the food, so they do not need to be washed or sterilized. But, because I want to eliminate any risk of contamination, I make sure they’re clean. After all, they have been sitting in a warehouse before they got to the store, and then finally, to me. That’s too many germs for my comfort level! I wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse them well, and transfer them to a bowl until I need them. The sealing disk/sealing ring needs a little more consideration.
If you look at the bottom of the lid, you will see a reddish-brown rubber ring. It’s attached to the lid. This ring has a huge job! It is pretty much in charge of keeping your food safe for long-term storage. Place the lids into a glass bowl. I like to separate them so that they are not all stacked. When I’m ready to ladle the food into the jars, I pour a kettle of boiling water over the lids so that they are sterile and the rubber band softens. That’s it. You have now prepared your jars. Next, we need to get the canner ready!
STEP 3: PREPARING THE CANNER
You can buy a canning pot, but you don’t have to do that. Any stock pot will do just fine. Be sure that the pot is tall enough to hold enough water so that your jars are covered by at least an inch of water. Fill the canning pot accordingly. Also, be sure to insert a canning rack or mat into the bottom of your pot. If you buy a canning pot it will come with one. Otherwise, you can buy them for any pot size. Never let your jars touch the bottom of the pot when boiling. They could easily break and your Sweet Sandwich Pickles will be lost. Once you’ve done this, bring the water to a full boil.
In most cases, if you’re new to canning, you might notice some white residue on the jars after all is said and done. This can easily be cleaned off once the jars are cool. A few tablespoons of white vinegar in the boiling water helps to eliminate most of it. I use it every single time.
Lastly, it’s always a good idea to keep a kettle of boiling water close by. Depending on how many jars you need to process, you might have to boil them in batches. You will be surprised at how quickly rapidly boiling water can evaporate. Having a kettle of boiling water will allow you to easily top up the canning pot without altering the temperature of the water.
STEP 4: FILLING THE JARS
Depending on the recipe, filling the jars is quite easy. Having some inexpensive equipment on hand can make this process much easier. Invest in a canning funnel. It will help you ladle the food into the jars without making a mess. Remember to pay attention to the recipe’s recommended headspace. This is the amount of empty space from the top of the food to the very top of the jar. Also, it’s imperative to keep the rim of the jar clean to ensure a good seal. You will also need a bubble remover. You can buy these, but I’m not a fan of them. A clean wooden chopstick does the same thing. Removing bubbles will prevent mould from growing.
Lastly, you will need a magnetic lid lifter. Remember how I said the flat sealing lids will be submerged in a bowl of boiling water? Well, you can’t just pick them up with your hands. First of all, it’s hot! Secondly, you will want to eliminate the risk of any contamination. Do not touch the underside of the lid. Period! Using a magnetic lid lifter will allow you to pick up the lid and position it right onto the rim of the jar without ever touching it.
Finally, you will need to screw on the metal screw bands. In most cases, the food in the jars is scalding hot, so you can’t touch the jars to tighten the lids. But, that’s a good thing! You should never over-tighten the lids. Place the screw band over the jar and tighten it with one hand. It should be snug, not tight. Now, that’s it! You’re ready to boil these jars!
STEP 5: BOILING THE JARS OF FOOD
Carefully lift the jars of Sweet Sandwich Pickles straight up using a jar wrench/lifter. Lower the jar into the pot of boiling water. Fill the canning pot with jars in this manner. Don’t jam the jars in; leave a little bit of space between the jars. I aim for about a centimetre or a finger’s width. Remember, you can process the jars in batches.
Once the canning pot is loaded, place a lid on the pot, and start your timer according to the recipe you are following. If the water is not at a full boil, do not start timing until it is! When the time is up, use the jar wrench to lift the jars straight up out of the water. Transfer the jars to a flat surface that has been lined with a few layers of kitchen towels. Allow the jars to fully cool – at least 24 hours! Finally, wipe the jars down, label them with contents and date, and store them in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry.
Some people remove the screw bands after the jars have cooled for 24 hours. I remove them just to check if there is a good seal. I put them back on once I’ve checked. It’s up to you if you want to leave them off. If you notice that a jar has not been sealed, you can either discard it or refrigerate it for immediate consumption. Only do so if you are 100% sure the food has not been compromised and that it is safe to eat.
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Sweet Sandwich Pickles
- 6 750 ml mason jars with screw bands and new, unused sealing discs.
- Water Bath Canner with Jar Rack
- Jar Wrench/Lifter
- Canning Funnel
- Non-metallic Bubble Remover
- Magnetic Lid Lifter
- 45 mini cucumbers, about 8 pounds, sliced into 1/8-1/4 inch slices
- 4 cups cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 4 teaspoons celery seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
To Prepare Mason Jars:
- Wash mason jars and screw lids in soapy water and rinse soap off well under running hot water. Place clean jars on a baking sheet and place in oven preheated to 200 degrees. Set screw bands aside. Next, boil a kettle of water and pour into a clean glass bowl. Carefully submerge the sealing discs in the bowl of hot water. Set aside.
- Once the cucumbers are sliced, add the water, vinegar, and sugar to a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the mustard seeds, celery seeds, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Place the cucumbers into the pot. Stir into the brine and boil for 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, fill your water bath canner to the halfway mark with water and add the jar rack. Bring to a full boil.
- Ladle the cucumbers into prepared mason jars using a funnel to prevent the mixture from touching the rim of the jars.
- Use the non-metallic bubble remover to remove any air bubbles.
- Wipe down the rim of each jar with a damp paper towel to ensure none of the brine has come in contact with the rim.
- Carefully remove the sealing discs from the hot water with a magnetic lid lifter. Position the sealing disc directly onto the lid of the jars. Do not touch the underside of the lid.
- Screw on the screw bands until firm – do not apply pressure! Just use your fingertips to tighten the screw bands.
- Using the jar lifter, place the jars into the water bath canner with the boiling water. Do not place the lid on the canner.
- Boil for 20 minutes. Carefully remove each jar from the canner using the jar lifter. Try not to tilt the jars. Place jars onto a wire cooling rack that has been covered with a clean kitchen towel.
- Leave the jars to cool for a minimum of 12 hours. Once cooled, wipe the jars of any residue that might have been transferred to the outside of the jar during the boiling process. Label the jars and store in a dark, cool cabinet for up to one year.
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