Making pickles

I love pickles.  I usually eat them until I’m sick to my stomach.  Maybe it’s the salt, or possibly the vinegar, but something in that pickle juice makes my mouth water.  There have been a few occasions when I’ve eagerly downed the leftover brine after finishing the last pickle in the jar.  I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.  Before I met Curt, I had no idea how good a fresh, “homemade” pickle could actually be.  Curt’s mom and Aunt Rosine have pickled cucumbers for as long as he remembers and I have been lucky enough to have had some of these farm fresh pickles.  Naturally, canning my own pickles has been on my to-do list for awhile now.  And this was the summer I finally made some for my family.

No, this is not Africa

The biggest, most-energetic cuke I've ever seen

After calling around the Portland area, I found a small farm in Oregon City that has you-pick vegetables (cukes for 50 cents/lb!).  We arrived on a 90 deg day, carried our buckets (and Laird) to the rows and rows of vegetables and began finding the perfect cukes to pickle.  It was a little frustrating as the farm had a rule that we couldn’t pick ones that were smaller than 3 inches and those are typically the best to pickle.  But after about a half-hour we had roughly 13 pounds of cucumbers and a very muddy kid.  We also picked some fresh sweet corn, which turned out to be the sweetest, juiciest corn I’d ever had.  Of course Curt claims he’s had better.  But he’s from Iowa, and that’s all they know how to do in Iowa…grow corn.

Finding our pickling cucumbers

This is the recipe I followed for my pickles and I used the low-heat pasteurization method of canning to get the crispest pickles possible (nothing I hate more than mushy pickles)

Pickle recipe

  • 7 wide-mouth quart jars, lids & rings
  • Fresh dill, heads & several inches of stems shaken free of bugs
  • Cucumbers, washed, scrubbed
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more)

Our pickling cukes, all washed and ready to be packed

Fresh dill, garlic and jalapenos from our garden

Brine

  • 8 1/2 cups water
  • 3 1/4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt

Whole, sliced and spear cut pickles waiting to be filled with brine

Water, vinegar and salt

Directions:

  1. Wash jars in hot, soapy water.  Rinse and fill with hot water.
  2. Fill canning pot half-full with hottest water and set on high heat.
  3. Place lids and rings in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  4. In a large saucepan, bring brine mixture to a boil.
  5. Fill the jars: Place a layer of dill at the bottom, along with a clove of garlic.  TIGHTLY load the cukes in the jar to the neck of the jar.  Add a few sprigs of dill to the top and another garlic.  I also added peppercorn and jalapenos.
  6. Once all the jars are loaded, pour the brine into the jars and leave a half-inch head space.
  7. Add lid and ring to the jar and finish filling all the jars.
  8. Place the jars into the canner and add water to cover jars by an inch.  Heat the cukes to 180-185 deg for 30 minutes.  It is critical to have the temperature within this range.  Too low and the bacteria may not be killed.  Too high and the texture of the pickles may change.
  9. Remove the jars from the water.   Allow to cool before checking the seal.  Try the pickles after 3-4 weeks!!

In the canner

Cooling down. Now the waiting begins...

Daddy showing Laird how to pick some corn

It’s been two weeks, and after checking my jars I discovered that one of them hadn’t sealed properly.  Yay!  That meant we were able to try them.  And…..they were freaken awesome!  So worth all the effort.  Laird and Curt both loved them.  Of course I tried the brine too and all I can say is yuuuuuuumy.  If I made it again, I’d probably increase the amount of vinegar.  But not bad for my first try.

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3 responses to “Making pickles

  1. My stomach is hungry for some of those pickles. I love pickles but never tried the brine. There is always a first. Laird is too cute hitching a ride!

    see you soon.

    love, gma

  2. It looks so good! Since I got pregnant (2nd trimester), I’m in love with pickles! I love the saltiness and crispiness of the pickles. So delicious. I only let myself eat one or two a day.

    When I was a kid, my family used to pick baby cucumbers for a farm (it was hard work – sun up to sun down) and we loved eating the freshly picked cucumbers with dry chili peppers, salt or sugar.

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