Saturday, August 1, 2009

*in a pickle*

We're gonna' kick of the blogiversary with a foodie post of sorts (which also, coincidentally, has a little craft project to accompany it). Perfect, right?

It's safe to say that I am officially addicted to this whole pickling/canning/jelly-making thing. Not only is it delicious, but it's so rewarding to be able to provide food stuffs for your family. AND, *bonus*... a basket full of home-canned goods with some accompaniments makes for a lovely gift! Please, please, please... don't let yourself be intimidated by canning your own goods. Seriously. I was for years. But, it is SURPRISINGLY easy once you get than hang of it. Even jellies are pretty simple (we'll save that for another post, though.) Anyhow...

I have finally (after much trial and error) perfected a dil pickle recipe that I wanted to share with you. The last pickle recipe I shared was for a bread and butter pickle (a little on the sweeter side). But, this one is for those tried and true dill pickles we all love. And, they're pretty delicious if I do say so myself. I found the recipe in the Ball canning guide to be a tad on the salty side with a little too much of a pungent flavor, so I've tinkered and tweaked it a bit to get it just the way I like it. Plus, their recipes always call for huge quantities of produce that my garden doesn't, well... produce. So these quantities are adjusted to suit the more average gardener like myself. This recipe makes about 3 wide-mouthed pint jars full of pickles. Ready? Here we go...

"Grandma's Dill Pickles"
For the pre-soak (Yes, folks, this is a 2-day project)...
4 lbs pickling cucumbers, sliced to about 1/4" thick rounds
Lots of ice (like clean out the bucket of your ice machine "lots")
1/2 C pickling salt
4 C water

In a lg. stainless steel or glass mixing bowl, alternate between layers of ice and cucumbers (ending with a layer of ice on top). In a lg. pitcher, dissolve pickling salt into 4 C water. Pour over the cucmbers/ice. The cucumbers should be entirely covered with water, so keep adding plain cold water until they are covered. You'll end up with something that looks like this...

Invert a plate over the top of it, and weigh it down with a couple of jars filled with water. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, but no more than 18 hours.

For the actual canning process...
4 C water
1 Tbs. pickling spice
3 C white vinegar (Once you get into canning, you'll be wanting to buy those HUGE jugs of vinegar - both the white and apple cider variety. I always looked at those in the store and wondered who in the H-E-double hockey sticks would need that much vinegar. The answer? You will... if you want to do a lot of canning!)
1/2 C pickling salt
1/8 C granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp mustard seeds(this will be divided later)
1 1/2 Tbs, plus 1 1/2 tsp. dill seed (this will be divided later)
3 cloves of garlic (I use the minced variety that comes in a jar. This will also be divided later.)

Prepare your canner jars and lids. If you need some hints on how to do this, I provided a pretty easy step-by-step in this previous post. Meanwhile, tie your pickling spice into a spice bag or a square of cheese cloth. In a lg. saucepan, combine 4 C water, pickling salt and sugar. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Reduce heat, cover and boil softly for 15 min. Meanwhile, transfer cucumbers to a colander placed over a sink and drain them. Rinse with cool running water, and drain thoroughly. Pack cucumbers into prepared jars, filling to within 1/2 from top of jar. Add 3/4 tsp. mustard seeds, 1/2 Tbs. plus 1/2 tsp dill seed, and one clove of garlic to each jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into hot jar to cover cucumbers, leaving 1/2" head space. Wipe rim. Center lids on jars. Screw band on until fingertip-tight.

Places jars back into canner, cover completely with water, cover and bring to a boil. Process for 10 minutes at a boil. Then, remove canner lid; wait 5 minutes. Remove jars, cool and store. Voila! Delicious pickles! Be sure to wait 24 hours before ravenously diving into your pickles.

But, wait! Don't want to eat all of those pickles yourself? How about sharing some with your friends and neighbors? You'll want to pretty those jars up first, though! This is a great way to use up your fabric remnants and assorted scrapbooking supplies.

First, find a circular object that is a couple of inches larger in diameter than the top of your jar. I used this roll of tape... a plate would also work well. Use a fabric marker to trace the circle onto your fabric.

Use pinking shears to cut out the circle of fabric.

Secure the fabric around the top of the jar using a rubber band.

Use a dot of hot glue to secure some ribbon to cover the rubber band.

Then, adorn away with tags, stickers, rub-ons... whatever your heart's desire. And, there you have it... a lovely homemade treat in pretty packaging!

Thanks for joining me today! I haven't quite decided on tomorrow's project yet, but I'm thinking I might share some peeks of my Christmas ornaments I'm making to swap this year (we'll see how much I get done between now and then)! See you tomorrow!


Jocelyn said...

Oh Holly....this is fabulous!!! I have always wanted to try this and now you have inspired b me to do so!!!!!! Love the decorative covering for the top!!!! What a great gift to give....I had a dear neighbor who has passed....that used to come up the road with a whole basket of all of her wonderful goodies...pickles and jams and we would enjoy them so!!! Thanks for sharing the how to!!!!! Have a wonderful day!!!! :)

Melonie said...

These look yummy and I love how you decorated the jar!

Michelle said...

Gorgeous! You always make me want to learn to cook.

Sasha said...

Okay shut up .. you are just too talented FOR REAL .. and you jarring up pickles and shyt .. girl LOVE IT .. LOL..

You know I always gotta go curse huh? Anywho .. thanks for the TIPS for real .. and you already know Ima try it right?!?!