Friday, 31 August 2007

Cold Water Wash for your Cukes

This may sound crazy, but I actually wash cucumbers in the washing machine. This year marks the tenth anniversary since I was taught to can by a sweet friend (who has been canning for more years than I've been alive! So you could say she's very experienced at this.) It was my canning teacher who told me about using the washing machine to wash the cukes before canning them. I thought she was joking, of course. I mean, wouldn't the cukes end up as mush in the machine??? Not so, as she showed me. Of course you don't wash the cukes with laundry detergent or soap and you only wash them on the delicate cycle using COLD water. I also put a towel into the bottom of the machine before putting in the cukes.
Here you see 35lbs. of machine washed cukes awaiting the next step on their way to becoming dill pickles. Upon returning the cukes to the kitchen, I put them into my kitchen sink and give them a rinse and check for any further dirt on them (each cuke gets a thorough inspection) before I nip a small bit off each end of every cuke (this helps the brine penetrate the cucumber). I must admit that in all my years of using the washing machine to pre-wash the cucumbers, this is the first year I ended up with some cukes severed. I'm not sure why this happened, but I had only 6 cucumbers damaged which means I'm not deterred from using this method again. It saves a lot of time. Especially the year I bought 75lbs. of cukes to pickle in one day. It took most of the day to can 65 quart jars of dill pickles - but it would've been longer if I hadn't used the machine to pre-wash the dirt and bloom ends off the cukes first.
Ah, the final results of a few hours of work. My 35lbs. of cucumbers became 28 quarts and 1 pint jar of dill pickles. This is about half the amount I need to get my family through the year, but it's a good start!

1 comment:

Heather said...

I was so glad when you shared that washing machine tip with me. I had been doing them all in the sink so it was a huge time-saver. The only problem is that now when it comes time to replace our old washing machine I will have to weigh the benfits of a frontloader against the fact that I won't be able to wash my cukes in it each year. Hmmmm.