exploring, preserving: past, present

“Grandma’s Dill Pickles”: Day Two

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This dill pickle recipe sounds time-consuming (two days effort), but Day One really didn’t have much to do–layering in a crock with brine (see “Grandma’s Dill Pickles” for Day One info).

Day Two: it’s important to get those pickles out of the crock before 18 hours is up, or they’ll be oversoaked and go limp in the processing stage.

What’s Needed for this recipe: pickling vinegar, pickling spice, mustard seed, garlic, distilled water, coarse (pickling) salt, sugar. (Not pictured: fresh dill weed.)

Pickling spice is called for in this recipe from Bernardin. You can either purchase the spice premade or mix your own (that’s for another post!). I chose to purchase the premade just to see what the taste difference might be. I prefer, however, to mix my own because it lets me control the flavours I like.

This is the purchased pickling spice I used. You can see the bay leaves, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and other spices in the mix.

It’s worth highlighting the difference between pickling salt and other salts out on the market. Pickling salt has less additives than normal table salts, sea salts, or other salts on the market. It is the iodization process and the addition of other salts than sodium chloride that allow table salts to flow better and to provide the addition of a few minerals into our diets (such as iodine). This too prevents pickles from maintaining their crispness.

Be careful which salt you purchase for pickling! Make sure the label highlights its use in pickling–if it doesn’t mention that, it’s not the right kind of salt!

Always check the label of your purchased salt–it should mention that it is usable for pickling. Reading the list of ingredients will also tell you if there are no chlorine/iodine additives.  Kosher salt is another acceptable salt as it does not have the additives that regular table salts and sea salts have.

Also important to the canning process is to make sure everything you are using is at the same temperature before processing canned goods. Jars and lids should be cleaned, sterilized, and kept warm. (Keeping them in a hot dishwasher, or keeping them in the hot water of your canner, works great.)

The brine created for this pickle recipe comes from dissolving sugar into vinegar and distilled water and boiling pickling spice with it. The recipe called for placing the pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag so its easily removed later. I didn’t have cheesecloth but it’s just as easy to strain it out after.

Sugar dissolving in vinegar and water, with pickling spice mixed in.

Once the brine is hot, your canner water is hot (this can just be tap water as it’s what is used in processing, not what ends up inside the canning jars), and your jars are hot, it’s time to fill those jars!

Pickles in quart jars waiting to be processed.

It’s important to have the lids on tight, but not too tight. Processing involves boiling these jars for 20 minutes, so the contents inside heat and expand. The lids should be finger tight. You will see some bubbles coming out of the jars as processing occurs, because the small amount of air (head space) left in the jars is escaping as the contents expand a bit.

Five quarts of dill pickles processing in the canner.

After processing, the jars are pulled out of the water and left to cool. It’s important to check them as they cool, tightening the lids throughout the cooling process.

Five quarts of dill cooling on cork trivets. Yum!

So how much time did this take me? Day One only took about 15 minutes of prep time. Day Two was more prep time as it involved making a brine (15 minutes), preparing jars and canner water (15 minutes), prepping the jar contents (10 minutes), and processing the jars (20 minutes).  All in all, though, I think this was well worth the effort. Making your own batch of dill pickles is not only immensely satisfying, it also allows you to control the content–sugar, salt, flavourings. (Have you ever looked at a store-bought jar of pickles? They typically come from India, and have an extremely high salt content.)

So many more things to talk about: how salt and sugar are important in the process of preserving (but you can play with amounts or remove and replace with other salty/sweet additives!), always use rubber/wooden utensils when preserving, how to choose good produce for pickling….

Enjoy your day, and thanks for following my blog!


Author: tjthiessen

explorer, administrator, consultant, student, leader

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