Thursday, July 15, 2010

Zucchinni Pickles and a Lesson in Reading the Directions.

 I just erased a nice chipper paragraph I wrote before I typed in the directions.  The paragraph wondered what the pickles would taste like, and told you how sweet they were. It may have even said something about how pretty they look in the jar, or pointed out the cool vintage labels my aunt found for me.  I erased it because after typing in the directions, I realized I didn't follow them properly and will more than likely have to make them over again.  Bummer.  What I didn't do was get the air bubbles out, which, now that they have risen out, means that there isn't enough liquid to cover the pickles.  I also didn't leave the jars in the hot water for 5 minutes after I took the lid off the canner.  I threw some of the jars in the fridge, If we're lucky we'll be able to eat a few of them before they go bad.  I'm not really even sure what would happen.  I don't think you can get botulism form pickled things, please correct me if I'm wrong about this.  Either way, I'll be too wigged-out come December to actually eat them. They'll get opened and poked at, set on the door of the fridge like we're going to eat them, when people come over we'll say, "Oh yes, those are our zucchini pickles." And eventually, they'll find their way into the compost.  So, I figure they are fine now if they are refrigerated, and we'll just find it in our hearts to eat 10 pints of zucchini pickles before they "go bad" (whatever that means).  So take my lesson and really read through the directions thoroughly before you start.  In fact take another lesson and don't start a a 4-hour canning adventure at 8:30 at night.  Go to sleep if you're too tired to read the directions. 

I got this recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

Zany Zucchini Pickles
14 cups diagonally sliced zucchini
1/2 cup pickling or canning salt
cool water
6 cups white vinegar
4 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp ground turmeric

1.  In a glass or stainless steel bowl layer zucchini slices with pickling salt. Cover with cool water and let stand for 2 hours.  Transfer to a colander in a sink and let drain.  Rinse with cool running water and drain thoroughly.

2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, and spices.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes, until spices have infused the liquid.  Stir in zucchini. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile get your jars and canner ready.

4.  Return saucepan to medium-high heat and bring zucchini mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes, until zucchini is heated through.

5. Pack zucchini into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar.  Ladle hot liquid into jar to cover vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary by adding hot pickling liquid.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.

6. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store. 

*Also I have added another tag: "Mistakes." We harvest as many of those around here as anything else.  Better me than you!


  1. Well they look pretty! Stsrt giving them away as refigerator pickles to the first 10 lucky winners!

  2. They're probably totally fine. I've canned tomatoes and forgotten to get the air bubbles out. Sometimes even when I remember, the jar loses enough air that the tops of the tomatoes aren't covered. I've opened these nearly a year later and eaten them. They were all fine - and tomatoes are an acid environment like your pickles. OK, I admit, I was kind of scared the first time, but I've eaten at least 5 quarts of tomatoes that were like you're describing, and no one I served them to got sick, and they tasted amazing. So really, you're probably okay.

  3. Thanks Cheryl, I have already opened a jar and they are great. I just desperately don't want to be the lady in the news who killed her whole family with pickles...and I don't want to kill my whole family.

  4. Do they have a cloudy look to them? Like floating clouds?? We did pickles and actually had botulism in the jars!! The way you have to dispose of them is crazy too! like double wrapping them in the trash...throwing out everything that touches it if you open it...never put them in your compost pile either! I'm taking a canning/preserving class this week so hopefully, that will never happen again! Love the labels too!

  5. I'm sure your pickles will be safe and yummy. What you've described about the directions not followed wouldn't affect the pickle safety - only the soundness of the seal. You can always open the jars, reheat the pickles, and re-process them according to the directions. Maybe remove a bit of the zucchini to be sure you have enough liquid to cover.

    The air bubbles that didn't get removed would not have been significant enough to cause the liquid to be too low in the jars - that happens when the veggies absorb the liquid or when your pickles aren't hot enough when you pack them and some of the liquid comes out of the jar during the processing....or when the veggies just float above the liquid. The main worry over air bubbles is that as they rise, they may weaken or break the jar's seal - if your jar doesn't make the whoosh sound of a broken vacuum seal when you open it, the food inside (after some storage time) may be spoiled.

    Botulism can't be "seen" in your product - cloudiness can be caused by other factors and isn't always harmful. It could be spoiled or it could be salt or starch concentrations. Spoilage is detectable by funny smells or looks in your jar. And botulism doesn't grow in pickles unless your acid is really diluted (and then, they're not really pickles).

    Of course, don't eat food that looks or smells questionable - but also, if you've followed the recipe ingredients-wise, don't worry. The worst that can happen is you don't have a good seal. You can always re-process.

  6. You can find many homesteading and off the grid books on cd at:

    dvdtruth (com)

  7. Find cds on canning and homesteading at:

  8. I have made Zany Zucchini Pickles for several years. They are so easy (and my favorite)! I've had trouble in the past with other pickle recipes, but never this one! They are so yummy!