Sunday, September 5, 2010

Got a Nickel? Go Suck a Pickle!

  • It has been a busy summer!  I realized I am down to my last 3 jars of dill pickles.  I have called around to the local farms looking for cucumbers in bulk.  I haven't found any yet, we are at the end of the growing season.  I thought I may not get any this year.  I was delighted when I returned home from New York and a friend of mine brought me some of her excess cucumbers!  I was able to bottle 11 quarts of dill pickles.  Though that seems like it should be plenty, I wish I could have double or triple that amount.  I use them as payment to my Dad when he helps us with todo's around our place in St. George.

Pickles are the easiest thing to bottle.  You can get a lot of them done in a relatively short amount of time.

There are different recipes out there for dill pickles.  Some recipes call for pickling spices, and sugar.  I don't use the pickling spices or the sugar.  All you need is a basic brine recipe that you like.  My favorite recipe is very simple.  

  • Brine
  • 3 qts (12 cups) water
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup pickling salt (make sure you use pickling salt, it is not iodized, so the liquid won't be cloudy in the jars)

  • You'll need about 8 pounds of 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
  • 3 cloves garlic for each jar, peeled and halved
  • 1 head fresh dill weed for each jar
  • 1 grape leaf for each jar (keeps the pickles crisp)
  • Optional - if you like spicy!
  • jalapeno or any hot pepper, with slices cut through it - one for each jar. I like to use the red peppers for their bright color in the jar.
  • or use 1/4-1/2 tsp cheyanne pepper,
  • or 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • Wash cucumbers, and place in the sink with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Soak in ice water for at least 2 hours but no more than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required. 

  • Sterilize 7 (1 quart) canning jars and lids in boiling water.

  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil.

  • In each jar, place 3 cloves of garlic, one head of dill, grape leaf and pepper if desired.  Put enough cucumbers into each jar to fit tightly, do not leave space.  I like my pickles cut in spears, but you can do whole or halves if you like that better.  Fill jars with hot brine to within 1/4 inch from top.  Remove air bubbles.  Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar's rims of any residue.

  • Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 20 minutes.

  • Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.

    USU Extensions had this to say about crisp pickles:

    Use of ice to firm pickles
    Soak cucumbers or other vegetables in ice water for 4 to 5 hours before pickling.

    Use of grape leaves to firm pickles
    Historically, grape leaves are sometimes added to pickle products. The tannins in grape leaves were found to inhibit the pectinase enzyme (a chemical that would break down and soften the pectin structure). However, this enzyme is located at the blossom end of the cucumber and if that is removed this process is redundant.


    1. Every time I smell dill, it reminds me of when my mom would make pickles when i was younger! I'll have to try this next year!
      P.S. I still want to come see your new kitchen!

    2. That's my grandma's old recipe, the one I used every Fall for many, many years! I used to go out to a farm in S. Jordan to pick cucumbers. One year Shannon and her friend lost my keys in the cucumber field!! After searching the rows and rows of cucumbers, we found them on the back fender of the car : )
      Good times...


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