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Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's Pickle Time, folks!!

I'm sure many of you capable women (& men, equal opportunity blog, here) know how to make pickles and probably have pickle recipes handed down through generations of your own family, but just in case, here is ours.

Some background: I have a grandmother that lived through the depression. This woman literally wastes NOTHING. It really gets annoying, to be quite honest. If she's around, we are all on our toes, making sure not to throw anything away that could be made into something....anything. One time we were having family over for some occasion, birthday, first communion, who knows, but we made a roast. After we took the roast out of the oven and started carving it, my husband, a novice at this 'save every scrap' thing, dared to start to dump the juice from the roast down the drain. And then the world stopped spinning.

From the sounds of my grandma's screams, I half expected to turn around and see him murdering one of his own children. He was literally frozen in place, afraid to move a muscle. After a 20 minute lecture on all the things you can do to turn that juice into 25 different meals, we were able to salvage the remaining juice and John was allowed to live, barely, and not without learning a valuable lesson.

So, to make an already long story, shorter, I'm trying to say that if you need to know how to can, preserve, freeze, smoke or dry any type of food? Grandma Addie is your gal.

So, I present Grandma Addie's Dill Pickles or as she says, ("They're just like the store-bought ones, you know those Vlasic kind? They taste just the same!")

Pickle size cucumbers, vinegar (not apple cider, plain white), peppercorns, kosher or pickling salt, alum, dill (preferrably fresh, but if that is not possible, you can use dill seed, only if you are desperate) and lots & lots of garlic.

First step: Have 4 or 5 clean canning jars with lids and rings. If you've never canned before? The rings are the round things that screw over the lid. Don't laugh! There was a point when I would have to be told that. Make sure you either run your jars through a dishwasher cycle or boil water and pour it over them to sterilize them. The dishwasher is the easiest, in my opinion.

On the stove in a pretty good sized pot, put 12 cups of water, 2 cups of vinegar and 1/2 cup of pickling or kosher salt. Bring this to a boil.

Then take a small sauce pan with a couple inches of water in it and put your lids (rubber side up) in and bring to a boil. This sterilizes the lids and makes sure you get a good seal on your pickles.

While you're waiting for your liquid to boil, cut the head off your fresh dill and put it in the bottom of the jar along with at least 2 heads of garlic, peeled but not chopped, just whole. I personally use at least 3 - but we love garlic around these parts. Sprinkle some peppercorns in the bottom of the jar too, like so:

Now it's time to cut your cucumbers. If you are using good pickle size cucumbers that will easily fit into the jar, you don't need to cut them. We do cut the cucumbers because my spoiled kids like pickle spears better than whole pickles. It is all about them after all, right? Although you never seem to see them around when it's pickle making time, do you? That's another post.

After you have your cucumbers cut (or not), now it's time to stuff them in the jars. Grandma likes to stuff the pickles in tight to get as many as you can in each jar. Just go with your gut, whatever looks good.

Next put about a teaspoon of alum in the jar. Just sprinkle it right down over top of the cucumbers. This is to make the pickles cripsy, because who likes a floppy, mushy pickle? Wow, that almost sounded dirty.....anyway, moving on.

If you have enough dill, cut another head and put it right on top. You might have to mush it down a little or poke it down in the cukes.

By now, you liquid should be boiling. Using a kitchen funnel that fits into the top of the jars is really handy here and much safer than scalding yourself with boiling liquid as you try to eye-ball it and pour it in free-hand. Not that I've ever done that or anything. Put in enough liquid to fill the jar to just under the top rim. Put your lid on and screw on your ring tightly.

Hey, you just made your first quart of homemade dill pickles!

Let the pickles sit out on the counter until you here all the little lids go "pop". This means they have successfully sealed down and are ready to go into the fridge. I recommend letting them sit in the fridge for 24 hours to get good and cold and crispy. Then, open up that jar and enjoy. You know, she's right again, they do taste just like the store-bought kind!


denise said...

I love making pickles! Both traditional dill pickles - and last summer we also made lacto-fermented pickle chips. So good. :)

so NOT cool said...

I don't normally eat pickles, but ... I suddenly have the urge for one. And, I'm not pregnant!

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

I would have to disagree; home canned pickles taste WAY better than store bought.

laurie said...

wow. it's been a long time since i made pickles. thanks for the memory! and the great step-by-step instructions. very cool.

i think i like bread-and-butter pickles the best. yum.

and i agree with jennifer; homemade is way better than vlasic. but it's cute that your gramma thinks they're the same.

Country Girl said...

Thanks for the recipe. I printed it off and will make them when I start getting cukes. ~Kim

Tara said...

My mom and your Grandma Addie would get along great, I think! I've never made pickles but if we get some pickling cucumbers in our CSA baskets I may give this a try.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You have pickles already? We might in another week or two... I love them when they're crisp and tart!

Kat said...

Hey, cool! I'm going to see if my goddaughter wants to learn how to make pickles & we'll use this recipe. =)

*~*Cece*~* said...

Ok, you know me and you know that I'm a TOTAL Los Angeles city girl, right? But I have to say that reading this I was like I CAN DO THAT!!! lol I'm going to print this post out for Mister and tell him we're gonna experiment in pickling! We like to try new stuff in the kitchen. Wait. Not that, we have little kids. You know what I mean!

Anonymous said...

Gramma Robertson did this. Jars and Jars and Jars. Enough to send some home with us each summer when we visited Minnesota from Kansas. They looked just like that, and though I know I could do it, I couldn't face the disappointment if they didn't taste like my memory.

Ang said...

Thanks for sharing your grandma's recipe! I'll have to email you my great Aunt Anne's quick pickle recipe. Mr. FixIt makes them really well! The house smells just like aunt Anne's when we were kids in the summer time! I can't wait until my cukes are ready so I can try this way!!

Cherry said...

This is why I really really want a garden!

I learned how to can this summer using fruit and veggies from my friend's garden/orchard, and now I have the bug.

Applesauce, preserves and dilly beans were this year's lesson. Maybe next year I'll have a garden of my own and I'll try out your grandma's pickle recipe!