Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How to Make Pickles

August 2010 036

It’s time to make the pickles. Every summer for the past few years I have been making pickles. These are fresh pickles that you keep in the refrigerator.

Pickles 005

I have tried several times to make canned pickles but we just never liked the soft and sometimes mushy texture you get from canning and although the idea of eating home made pickles in the middle of winter is very appealing, I never had any luck with them. Then I happened along a recipe that I tweaked a bit and created these “perfect for the summertime” Dill Pickle Chips.

Pickles 008 Pickles 010 Pickles 014

Making these pickles is very easy but it is a two day process. This is the recipe and method I have used and it works for me!

(Let me include this disclaimer: I am not an authority on the process of canning. Please consult the canning section of any good cook book or research the topic online. I am simply explaining how I make my pickles.)

On Day One I slice the cumbers and prepare them with salt to sit overnight in the refrigerator so that on Day Two I can prepare the brine and put them in the jars.

Pickles 002

I suggest making a small batch to start to see if you like them. But, I would be shocked if you didn’t! To begin, I start with between 17 and 20 small pickling size cucumbers. Some years I have great success growing my own but most of the time I pick them up at the Farmer’s Market. Fresh and firm cumbers work best and keep them refrigerated until you are ready to make them.

The Recipe:

Dill Pickle Chips

3 to 4 pounds of pickling cucumbers, 3 to 5 inches long (17 to 20)

1/2 cup Pickling or Kosher Salt

Ice Cubes

2 cups white vinegar

2 cups water

3 tablespoons sugar

dill weed, dill seed, black peppercorns, garlic cloves

Wash cucumbers well scrubbing gently to remove any spines. Remove both ends of cucumber and slice as thin as possible. Layer slice in a crock or a non-metal bowl, sprinkling the salt over each layer. Cover the cucumber slices with ice cubes. Cover and refrigerate overnight or 10 to 12 hours. Wash 4 pint size jars in hoot soapy water, rinse. Keep hot till needed and wash lids and bands.

In a large sauce pan or pot, combine vinegar, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Drain cucumber slices and discard the brine. Place 1 peeled garlic clove in each jar. Pack the drained slices into 1 jar at a time. Add about 1/8 teaspoon of dill seed, dill weed, and black peppercorns to each jar. Add the boiling vinegar mixture to each jar to cover leaving approximately 1/4 inch head space in the jar. Release the trapped air. Wipe rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth. Attach lids and bands. Date the top of the jars with a permanent marker and store in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 weeks. Makes approximately 4 pints.

Day One: When you are ready to make the pickles, scrub them up in warm, soapy water and rinse really well. Set them to dry on a clean dish towel.

Pickles 015 Pickles 018 Pickles 019

With each cucumber, I make sure to take off both ends and discard. I also use a vegetable peeler to peel away any parts of the skin than have blemishes.

Use a sharp knife that you are comfortable using and slice into very thin “chips”.

Sprinkle the bottom of the bowl with Kosher Salt and then set a layer of cucumber chips on the bottom of the bowl. Then sprinkle the tops of that layer with the Kosher Salt. You will be salting each layer as you go so that the top side and the bottom side of each cucumber chip is “touching” salt as they rest in the bowl. I slice, layer and salt as I go. I prefer to hand slice all of my cucumbers. I used the Food Processor to slice my cucumbers once but I though they were too thick. I actually enjoy hand slicing them (very therapeutic) and I think this makes a “prettier” and more hand made looking pickle. And they honestly taste better!

Pickles 022

Your pickle chips should look like this when you are done.

Pickles 029

They will now need to be covered with ice and then set them in your refrigerator over night.

Day Two: Wash your canning jars in hot soapy water and rinse them well. It is always best to sterilize your jars to be safe. Six jars, rings, and lids should be enough…and most likely you will only end up using 4 for this small sized batch.

Pickles 052

After you clean your jars, take your bowl of cucumber chips out of the refrigerator and remove any ice that has not melted. Stir the chips around in the bowl of salty water. Do not rinse your cucumber chips. I use a canning funnel to place the cucumber chips into the clean jars. Using a slotted spoon or your impeccably clean hands, remove the chips from the brine and fill the jars to the top careful not to “pack” them in too tightly. Pickles 053

In a pot on the stove, mix together the vinegar, water, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a full boil and let boil for about 1 minute. Then turn off the heat.

While you are waiting for the brine to come to a boil, add approximately 1/8 of a teaspoon each of the black peppercorns, dill weed, and dill seed to each jar. Peel and cut about 4 cloves of garlic into 2 or 3 pieces and add two or 3 pieces of the garlic to each jar.

Pickles 056

After the brine has come to a boil, using the canning funnel, ladle the hot brine into each jar. Place a lid on top and securely fasten the rings to the jars. I like turn each jar upside down and gently shake to help distribute the garlic, pepper, and dill in the jars.

Pickles 064

Set on the counter to cool, write the date on the lid with a Sharpie pen and then place in the refrigerator.

Pickles 058

These pickles MUST be kept in the refrigerator. They will keep in the refrigerator for approximately 1 month but they usually do not last that long. :)

Little things I have learned along the way:

1. Canning jars work best. Last year I made them in small plastic containers which worked but they just were not the same.

2. Use Kosher or Pickling Salt. Do not use regular table salt.

3. Use a plastic or glass bowl. (Do not use a metal bowl.)

4. I just hold the box of Kosher Salt in my hand and shake directly from the box. The recipe calls for approximately 1/2 cup of Kosher Salt. You can pre-measure first and then sprinkle from your measuring cup if you like.

5. I have left the sliced cumbers/salt/ice mixture in the refrigerator for longer than overnight because I just couldn’t get to them and the batch turned out fine. The point is to let the cucumbers sit in the salt and cold temperatures long enough to do their magic.

6. Get yourself a canning funnel. It really helps make the job easier and neater. It’s safer too when it’s time to ladle the hot brine into the jars.

7. I have successfully doubled and tripled this recipe when I want to make a bigger batch.

8. People really love these pickles. I make and give them away to friends and neighbors. Kids especially really seem to love them and there are a few that I like to give their own personal jar.

I have somewhat of devoted following of pickle lovers who wait each year for their jar or two of pickles.

It’s kind of nice. I have fans. Pickle fans.

So in addition to responding to “Hey Cheese Lady”,

in the summertime, I also respond to “Hey Pickle Lady.” .

I have been called worse things. :)

I am linking this post up with Foodie Friday over at Designs by Gollum. So many new recipes available there. Stop by!


Lisa said...

Wow, those DO look really good! I've never tried them before but I'm willing to give it a try. Your tips at the end are great and I'm sure will make the process an easy and sucessful one!
And Thanks for your visit today as well!

Anonymous said...

Wow.. those look really good! So much prettier than store bought pickles.


Allyson said...

Well I follow you because I love the cheese, not the pickles. ;) I mean, I follow you because you're awesome, but it's not because of the pickles. I don't know what it is...I've NEVER liked pickles. They say your taste buds evolve every 7 years so I'm looking forward to liking them in about 5. I'm pretty sure they evolved a couple of years ago when I started eating olives. At any rate, this was a MAGNIFICENT demo on making pickles and when they evolve to pickle mode, I'll be back.

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

My kids love pickles. I'll have to bookmark this one in case I ever have the ambition to take this on.

Denise said...

I pickled some cucumbers for the first time last year and they turned out pretty ok (I canned them) they did get a little mushy I must admit... I'm more inclined to just buy a jar as and when needed now!

Kelly said...

I think of the Andy Griffith show when someone makes their own pickles. Ha! Did you ever watch that show? It was set in NC too! Remember Aunt Bee would enter her pickles in the contest every year? Yours look like they would be delicious.

foxy said...

Oooooh... I'm totally going to try this. How long do they need to sit in the brine before they're ready to eat??

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Foxy- You can eat these almost immediately but I would at least give them overnight or a day or two.

If anybody give it a try...let me know what you think about them! And Good Luck!

The White Farmhouse said...

I am going to try these out! It seems that I may be soon overrun with cukes. Have you ever had bread and butter pickles? I have to make small batches of those or else I would be as big as a whale! I am the only one here who likes pickles so they are all mine.

Great tutorial Pickle Lady!

Joyce said...

I love your step by step instructions an also the helpful hints. I have never canned a thing and every year I say I am going to do this. I did buy a box of Ball jars and some pectin last year so maybe I can really start this year with your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

Melanie said...

I guess those two names are a lot better than what you could be called:)

My dad makes bread and butter pickles. I love them!

Melodie said...

Thank you for this tutorial and what gorgeous photos you have! I invite you to link this up at my Vegetarian Foodie Fridays carnival. I'd love to have you!
Melodie @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite!

Karen said...

Lisa--can you do this same recipe, but make spears instead of chips? I like to just eat pickles and really don't use the chips much.

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Super! I've canned and I'm just starting to experience fridge and freezer pickles! This is a great tutorial, the only problem is... I've had a hard time prying my eyes from your gorgeous bowl!!! Thanks!

RNSANE said...

These sound wonderful. I just wish I had more refrigerator space. I imagine they do get eaten up pretty quickly.

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Thanks for all the kind comments on my pickles!
Karen - I tried to make fatter "chunks" and "spears" but they tasted too much like cucumber and not enough like a pickle. Maybe I didn't leave them in the brine long enough but I think these are best suited to the "chip" size.

CosmoGirl Carla said...

Hi Lisa! So glad you posted a tutorial on pickle making. I really want to do this. I have done refrigerator pickles and freezer pickles in the past (like you, don't like the cooked kind - too mushy). Not sure if it's the same way you do yours. I want to try your way for sure. I don't grow "pickling cukes" but regular, burpless. Do you think they'll work okay using your method?

I'm off to Walmart to buy canning jars :o)

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Hey Pickle Lady these sound so good. No wonder your famous for them! Years ago I would make sweet 14 day pickles. Every night I would drain the brine off, reheat and pour over again. What a sticky mess but Ohhh those pickles were so good.
Do you ever add pickling spice to your jars? I am going to try these but maybe tweek the recipe a bit but they do sound like a masterful dill pickle recipe. Thanks so much for sharing.
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

Suzy said...

What a great tutorial. Love your green bowl!

Jacqueline said...

I want to learn to make the perfect pickle. My mother tried and tried and they were mushy and not too good. I want to try your method.