Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pick a Peck of Pickled --PICKLES!?

If you're picking lots of cucumbers like I am, you probably have way more than you're able to eat, and what else will you do with them except make pickles.
Dill or sweet, you just can't beat homemade pickles!

Here's what to do.

Find a good recipe, there are tons of recipes available online of course, but you probably know someone who has an ol' family cookbook containing the perfect recipe! Or, use the basics I will list here, and experiment til you find what suits your own tastes--then be sure to write it down because more than likely someone will ask you for your recipe some day!

For canning in general you will need the following supplies: 
canning jars, lids, and rings--available in a variety of sizes, with regular or wide mouth 
a canner--a great big pot containing a rack to keep the canning jars from sitting directly on the bottom
other items that will be useful include:
a jar lifter--specially designed tongs for safely lifting jars in and out of the boiling water
a magnetic lid lifter--a tool made to grab the metal lids out of hot water
a funnel--self explanatory 

Of course, wash the cucumbers in cool water, and then cut off the ends about 1/4 inch or so. You may cut spears or slices if you wish.  This picture shows the crinkle cut knife I use to make slices for both dill and sweet pickles.

The next step is to put the cucumbers into an ice bath (big bowl, layer cuc's with ice and cover with cold water) and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours (overnight it ok).  This has something to do with the crispness of the final product, but also buys you some time to prepare everything else you will need.

Now, fill the canner with water, submerse the clean empty jars in the water, put it on the stove and wait for it to boil.  Continue boiling for 10 minutes to sterilize the jars.  Put the lids and rings in a small pan, cover with water, and bring almost to a boil and keep hot.

Directions for the Dill Pickles:
Make a brine of water and white vinegar, about 3 to 1 ratio. plus 1/3 cup of pickling salt. (I have read pickling salt is some how different than regular table salt and will not make the solution cloudy as the table salt will, but I have no proof of this at this time)  Bring the bring to a boil. Fill the jars with pieces of cucumber and add a few whole cloves of garlic, and fresh dill. Pour hot brine mixture into the jar leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top. Wipe the rim of the jar clean, put a hot lid in place, and screw on a ring. Return the filled jar to the canner and boil for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars, and set aside on a clean towel and allow to cool.  Check seal when cool. Ready to eat in 4 weeks (full flavor)

The Directions for Sweet Pickles:  Bring to boil a mixture of 3 c cider vinegar, and 5 c white sugar, 1/4 c salt, tsp tumeric, tsp celery seed and Tbsp mustard seed.  Drain cucumbers from their icy bath, and add to the vinegar mix, bring to a boil again. Fill hot jars, with in 1/2 inch of top, wipe rim clean, add hot lid and ring, set aside to cool. Ready to eat right away.


  1. well, so that you get more pickles and pickle juice (or whatever you happen to be canning) INTO the jar instead of on the counter top!