Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In a Pickle

There is something very comforting and satisfying about canning. I'm not sure what it is exactly.....Maybe it's a feeling of accomplishment or a feeling of self sufficiency or perhaps and maybe more likely, it's just an excuse to purchase more kitchen gadgets. Also, I just don't like the flavour of store bought pickles, which I find to be way too vinegary for me. So every year, I scour the supermarkets looking for enough small cucumbers to can up 20 liters or so of pickles. This is usually enough jars to make it through the year until the next canning season. Growing up, I remember many moms canning pickles and I don't remember one of them using a water bath to process the jars. Almost without fail, all of these moms would sterilize their jars, cold pack them with cucumbers and dill etc. and then fill them up with boiling hot brine and put on the lids. The jars would sit on the counter until each and every one sealed and popped. I have had notoriously poor luck with this method, and almost always end up processing with a water bath to make sure the jars seal. This year, I made pickles twice, and the second time they all sealed. WooooHooooo. The recipe I make each year comes from one of the sweetest little old ladies I've ever met. And any recipe you got from her was guaranteed to be good as she was a very excellent cook. I find this recipe to be well flavoured, not too vinegary, and just enough garlic and dill. I will preface that assessment with a comment that my family is of a Ukrainian background, and there is always a head of garlic in my fridge. If you are not partial to garlic you could leave it out........but that would be just ridiculous.....I'm mean they're pickles.....they're supposed to have garlic in them....aren't they? Anyway just in case you're interested, here is the recipe. Oh, and they have horseradish in them too. Her recipe uses just the leaves though, so they are very easy to work with. You could use a piece of the root instead, but that's more work, and she had found the same flavour in the leaf and it's just easier. For instructions on processing with a water bath and recipes go look here.

Mrs. C's Dill Pickles


14 cups water

2 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup pickling salt

1 cup white sugar

Wash cucumbers prick each one with a fork and soak in ice cold water while you prepare the ingredients for the jars. The brine recipe makes enough for 7 one quart or liter jars. Sterilize jars and fill each one while still warm. The hotter everything is, the better your chances of them sealing on their own. If you are going to water bath them, you don't need to worry about keeping everything so hot.

For each quart jar:

4 black peppercorns

2 dill heads (one at top, one at bottom)

4-5 cloves garlic (each split in 1/2)

2 pieces of horseradish (3"X4" leaf or 1/2"X3" root)

1/4 tsp pickling spice

2 whole allspice

cucumbers to fill jar

Fill with hot brine leaving 1/2" head space at top of jar. Wipe jar edge with clean cloth and top with canning lid which has been prepared as per package directions. Put screw band on and wait for them to seal, or process using water bath method.


Scattered Mom said...

I made pickles for the first time this year...we'll see how they turn out! :)

LittleRed said...

For sure they'll be better than store bought, and you'll be stuck making them every year!