Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Stab at Home Made Pickles

As some of you know, we tilled up a nice sized area this spring at the back of our property for a garden. We filled it with zucchini, carrots, cabbage, purple beans, cucumbers, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe and a ton of pumpkins. I've been neglecting my duties as weed-picker as of late and the garden is looking a little forlorn, but we still have lots of yummy veggies coming out.

Anywhoo, we love pickles! Who doesn't? (If you're saying 'me!', I'm thinking you got dropped on your head as a child).

This spring, I pictured harvesting a bushel of cucumbers every week and making cans upon cans of pickles. Sadly, some of our plants got a disease called downy mildew and didn't produce as nicely as expected.

When you come inside with three measly little cucumbers, you're not about to bust out all of the heavy-duty canning paraphernalia, boiling jars and la-dee-la, or at least I wasn't. Instead, I found a couple of simple recipes on Pinterest and improvised.

First, bring 1 cup of vinegar (either cider or white vinegar) and about a cup and a quarter of water to a boil in a saucepan. Then, add 2.5 TBS of your canning salt (I use Morton Canning and Pickling Salt).

While the brine mixture is coming to a boil and the salt is dissolving, you'll need to add your flavors to the can. 

For my first try, I used dill and garlic. Now, by looking at the picture you can tell that I didn't use fresh, which is probably illegal in all 50 states, but I didn't have any fresh and these are suppose to be easy.

Some other suggestions to throw in are red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, peppercorns, or whatever other spice might suit your fancy - there are no rules in the kitchen! 

Then go ahead and lop off the head and the butt of the cucumber and slice away! I did one jar of spears and one of slices. 

There is suppose to be an inch of space between the lid and the cucumbers, but I overstuffed. Sprinkle a bit more dill and garlic on the top and you're ready to pour in the hot brine. 

I found that the easiest, safest way for me to pour in the brine was to set the jars in a cookie tin (the kinds with the sides) on top of the stove, then used a big soup ladle to pour the brine into the jars. Make sure your brine is completely covering the cucumbers. 

From there, using oven mitts, screw the lids onto your jars. 

All done! See, that took about 20 minutes. Now you'll need to leave the jars sitting on the counter for 2-3 days, then move them to the fridge where they'll need to sit at least two weeks before opening. 

Trust me, it's worth the wait. They were delicious, not too strong of garlic or vinegar, and they stayed nice and crispy. 

These quick pickles can be stored for months at a time in the refrigerator. When the pickles turn mushy, or you smell an off-odor in the can, it's time to throw them away - though I doubt they'll last that long!

Have you made pickles before? Any special tricks to make them extra crispy?


  1. remind me to give you my sunshine pickle recipe. next year you'll want to plant actual "pickles" for it and not cucumbers-plus you just leave them whole-really easy and everyone always loves them.


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