exploring, preserving: past, present

Leave a comment

“Grandma’s Dill Pickles”

I tried a new recipe (for me) for dill pickles. Bernardin has a recipe called “Grandma’s Dill Pickles”, which takes two days to complete. I chose this recipe because I thought it would work best with some slightly limp finger-sized cucumbers I had.


Bernardin’s recipe for “Grandma’s Dill Pickles” is on p.328 of this book

I had purchased these slightly limp cucumbers at a greenhouse just outside our city. Though our city has a couple of Farmer’s Markets, this greenhouse has prices that are regularly $1.00 per pound cheaper (or more) than the markets. Their produce also tends to be better quality, and doesn’t sit outside in the sunshine on display as they do in the markets (causing fresh produce to go limp very quickly!).


I let the cucumbers sit in cold water for a couple of hours to revive them before putting them in the crock.

Crocks are treasured items nowadays, for those who know their value. They are extremely hard to find in perfect condition, and even harder to find with lids intact. I have two crocks, both from my mother. The smaller crock has a hairline crack and no lid.


The larger of my two crocks–Imperial 4. History behind this crock will be saved for a later blog post.

This larger crock, shown above, has no cracks and a lid with a sizeable piece broken off of it on one side. Sadly, the piece is gone so I couldn’t even fix it by gluing it together.

Day One of the dill recipe required the cucumbers to be layered in the crock alternating with ice layers.


A brine is poured over the ice and cucumber layers, adding extra water if necessary to cover the cucumbers.  A plate is inverted over the top to cover the crock overnight. Even if you have a lid for your crock, the plate should be used and weighted down, as its purpose is to press the cucumbers into the brine as the ice melts.

It is quite important to ensure that the water you use to pickle anything is distilled water, or at the very least non-chlorinated water. The chlorine added to tap and well waters is what causes pickles to lose their crispness and have a disappointing squishyness to them. There are products on the market like “Pickle Crisp” which can be mixed in with chlorinated water to prevent some of the loss of crispness.  I prefer to use distilled water instead of adding more chemicals into the mix.

Cucumbers, ice, and brine are left to sit overnight for 12 hours minimum, but no longer than 18 hours.

In my next post, I’ll show you the steps in Day Two of the recipe process.