Last weekend, my friend Sophia came over and we made PICKLES! It was super fun. It was the first time making pickles for both of us... so first we had some studying to do. We carefully read through each recipe to make sure that we knew what laid ahead.
First up, Dill Pickles (using this recipe). One tip I saw said to cut off about 1/8" from the blossom end of the cucumber, since that end might contain bacteria that prevent the pickle from staying crunchy. Luckily, our cukes still had little blossom bits, so it was easy to figure out which end was which.
Then, the adorable little blossom-free baby cukes went into a cold ice bath for about 4 hours. Apparently, all of pickle making is centered around one most critical element: CRUNCH. Everyone wants a crunchy pickle. I am no exception.
To this end, another tip told us to put a grape leaf in each bottle, which supposedly helps maintain crunch. I have no idea if this is scientific or not, but it sounds like a fun old-timey tip, so I liked it. My aunt Laura has grape vines, and she picked these for us.
Here is our station, all set up and ready to go: jars, dill, garlic, spices, grape leaves...
We folded up our leaves in the bottom of our jars (one per jar), and then added in the spices. For each quart jar we added: 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 sprig fresh dill, 1 tsp dill seed, 1/4 tsp mustard seed, 1/4 tsp celery seed, and 1/4 tsp peppercorns. Spicy!
Next up, stuff the cukes in the jars! Easier said than done.
Then we poured in the boiling hot vinegar brine. If you like canning, allow me to recommend a canning funnel. My good pal JJTWH got me this as a gift, and it has greatly enhanced the ease and joy of my canning experiences ever since.
After filling, the jars were all sealed and ready to go! Reading the comments online for the recipe, I saw that some people boiled the jars for 10-15 minutes in the water bath for proper canning technique and some skipped it altogether... We went with the middle party and did a rolling boil for 5 minutes, to help seal the jars but not risk de-crunching our pickles.
We also made Bread & Butter Pickles. For this recipe, I used my mandoline for the classic crinkle-cut slicers. Cute!
The cukes and onions were salted, and then covered with a dish towel and covered with ice... and set in the fridge for 4 hours.
We set about making our brine for the B&B pickles... isn't it crazy looking!?
After the cooling time was complete, the cukes and onions were rinsed and drained twice to get rid of the salt.
Then, the cukes and brine were combined and cooked on the stove top - totally different than the dill pickle process!
The Bread and Butter pickles went right into jars, we sealed the lids... and again, we processed them in a water bath - this time for 10 minutes.
In the end, we had 4 quart jars of dill pickles and 4 pint jars of Bread and Butter Pickles - 2 of each for each of us! It was definitely easier than I thought it would be. Even though I've done other kinds of canning before, the Fear Of The Unknown had me thinking that pickles would be complicated. Not so!
The Dill Pickles are supposed to cure for 8 weeks before opening, so I don't have any final results yet on how those beauties turned out. But the Bread and Butter pickles can be eaten right away - they are amazing! Sweet, spicy, and crunchy - perfectly pickley! Hoorah for homemade pickles!