We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Scrub food well. Be sure to remove and discard 1/4–inch slice from the blossom end of fresh cucumbers. Blossoms may contain an enzyme that causes excessive softening of pickles.
I read that you should keep stem end in. Otherwise your pickles are squishy. And my last batch I had forgotten this and they were squishy, instead of being crisp. Soaking in salt water will also mean when you process it, you won't have a lot of shrinkage. Mr. FJord accuses me of not packing the jars correctly when I end up with a large space of brine at the bottom. I made 18 pints of relish and I soaked the cukes overnite (after picking) and in salt water after I shredded them for 4 hours. No shrinkage.
>Scrub vegs well.
Have to laugh at this. Have read on some of those foodie's blogs who think "all natural" means don't scrub or peel vegs. because they believe it's "healthy". It also means it tastes like dirt and you are probably canning unhealthy organisms that reside in the soil. THe whole point in canning is to REMOVE that for long term storage.
We make refrigerator sweet pickles, but dills are made in a crock on the kitchen counter at room temperature with nothing but a brine. Microbeasties on the cukes (from the garden, and not scrubbed) have the bacteria needed to start the fermentation that makes them sour. Add some thing with tannin--we use a grape leaf or two--to keep them crisp.
Have some sauerkraut almost ready in fridge now, and have been feasting on refrigerator dill/garlic pickles lately, with a dozen quart jars in the spare mini fridge. Another big batch this weekend and then if the vines succumb to powdery mildew (always a risk in my partially shaded humid yard) I won't care as I'll have a year's worth for barbecues, etc. Am waiting for areplacement stoneware crock to make main batch of sauerkraut but first one from online retailer broke in transit (local store wanted twice as much). I canned a couple dozen jars blueberry preserve, not enough but the bees are suffering and bushes are less productive. My domestic slaves aka my children rebel at being bitten indefinitely by horseflies and other stinging critters picking them for me. They like the preserves, tho. We made half a dozen pints of spectacular mango chutney w Craisins (all we had that day) w a $5 tray of mangoes from Patel's (best value grocery store near us). Impatiently watching our apples ripen for apple butter and apple sauce (a race to get them before the raccoons and squirrels)
Very dry this yar, and hot. Winter squash vinses withoer as if from borers, if not watered daily. The beans were good, but not lavish because of heat. Way fewer bees in both gardens, southerly and up North. Affecting vegetables and fruit.
If I were a farmer, I'd be going broke in this climate and on my land...okay for a hobby and one family's food, but I know why people went West...