In the warm days when the thought of "sweets" brings no desire, but rather an aversion for them, it requires courage to put up preserves, and a certain amount of faith is necessary to make the housewife feel that she will ever want to eat the rich and cloying dainties. But with pickles it is another story. During the dog-days the thought of the biting acid is pleasing, and the recollection of pungent spices tempts the appetite. So the housewife enters into the preparation of her pickles with zest that makes the task a pleasure.
To be on the safe side one should, in making pickles, always use a porcelain or agate-lined preserving kettle, as the action of sharp acid upon a copper vessel may, unless great care be practiced, produce a corroding poison.
Make a mixture of one-third resin and two-thirds beeswax. Heat together, mix well and put away until needed. When it is to be used lay a lump of it on top of the jar or bottle to be sealed, and press it down with a hot shovel. This will melt it, and thus seal the cork.
Choose only small cucumbers, as they make pretty, as well as tender, pickles. Lay one hundred and fifty small cucumbers in cold water for an hour. Remove and drain, then turn into a perfectly clean stone crock, and pour over them cold brine, so strong that an egg will float on the surface. After standing in this for three days the pickles may be removed, drained and dried on a clean towel. Wash the stone crock and return the cucumbers to it. Cover with pure water until the next day. Have ready on the range hot vinegar in which you have boiled two minced onions, twenty cloves, an ounce, each, of mustard and celery seed and a few blades of mace. Fill the jar with this boiling mixture, and add a cupful of sugar, stirring the cucumbers up from the bottom. Cover tightly. In a week scald the vinegar again, and return to the jar. Let the pickles stand for six weeks before using. Six months is even better.
Slice three dozen large yellow cucumbers and boil them for half an hour in enough vinegar to cover them. Meanwhile, into a gallon of cold vinegar stir a tablespoonful, each, of onion juice, ground horseradish, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, a half-teaspoonful of paprika, a tablespoonful of celery seed and a half-pound of sugar. Drain the boiled cucumbers, turn them into the spiced vinegar, put all into a kettle and simmer for two hours before putting into glass jars.
Select the small white "button onions" for pickling. Lay them in a strong brine for four or five days. Drain and put into a fresh supply of brine boiling hot. Cook five minutes. Drain and lay in clear, cold water for a day. Drain once more, turn the onions into pint jars and pour scalding spiced vinegar upon them. Allow them to become tender before using.
These should be picked when tender enough to be pierced with a needle. Cover with very strong brine and keep the nuts in this for three days; drain and recover with brine. At the end of three days drain again and leave in fresh cold water for six hours. Bring to a boil a gallon of vinegar in which you have stirred a cupful of sugar, two tablespoonfuls, each, of whole cloves and peppercorns, a tablespoonful of allspice and eight blades of mace. Boil for ten minutes, pack the nuts in a crock and pour the scalding vinegar over them. At the end of three days drain off the vinegar, bring it to the boil, and pour it again over the nuts. Cover and set aside for six weeks before eating.