Tag Archives: pickling

Dill Pickles

I’ve always liked dill pickles, but I didn’t like homemade ones. They handwritten dill pickles recipe photo d stewartjust didn’t have the crunch that Bick’s and any store-bought ones had. Then I tried dills that Helen Erskine made. She and her husband Sam were my parents’ neighbours and friends in Belmont. I guess my shock showed because Helen asked me ‘what is it, dear?’ It’s good, that’s what it is!

So good that even though I was a teenager and had never canned pickles in my life, nor had any intention of doing so, I wrote down her recipe. Miraculously, I never lost that scrap of paper.

It was a long time before I started making pickles. Even longer before I felt confident to try dill pickles. I didn’t want to ruin my memory of Mrs. Erskine’s perfect pickles. I saw, when actually using the recipe, that there were key things that I had not written down. But I figured them out. So below is my amended recipe.

Helen Erskine’s Award-Worthy Dill Pickles

4 qts (8 lbs / 3.6 kg) pickling cucumbers
1 pint (2 cups / 480 ml) white vinegar
3 qts (12 cups / 2.85 ltrs) water
1/2 cup (120 ml / 113 g) coarse salt
sprigs and heads of dill – a couple per jar
garlic cloves – one large for each jar

cucumbers-garlic-dill-photo-d-stewart1. Wash cucumbers well. Remove any stems without cutting into the cucumber itself.

2. Sterilize 6-7 clean quart/litre jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Put snap lids in the canner (or in a separate small pan of boiling water) for the last five minutes.

3. Start preparing the pickle brine (#4). As it heats, your jars should be done. So you can begin packing the clean jars with dill and cucumbers (#5).

4. Put water, vinegar and garlic in large stainless steel or enamel pot and bring to a boil. Add salt. Bring to a rolling boil. (You can instead put a garlic clove in each jar. If you don’t like garlic dill pickles, just leave it out.)

filling-jars-photo-d-stewart5. When jars are sterilized, remove one (carefully, with jar tongs). Put a couple sprigs of dill in it, then pack cucumbers in tightly but without crushing them. Repeat with remaining jars.

6. Scoop the garlic out of the brine and discard. Then ladle brine into the jars. A jar funnel helps keep the rim of your jars clean. Fill to 1/4″ from the top of the jar. Wipe rim with a clean wet cloth and put snap lid and screw cap on. Repeat until all the brine is in all the jars of cucumbers.

You can either a) pack all the jars with cucumbers then fill and cap or b) pack, fill and cap one jar then another. With the batch pictured here, I did (b).

With luck, your amounts of cucumbers and brine will match. If not, you’ve either got cucumbers left over for something else or brine you can keep if you’re going to do more pickling soon. If I need a little more brine to fill a jar, I quickly heat up a small amount of vinegar, water and salt. Then I mark that jar with a different coloured cap or make a small scratch on the lid. When I label them, I mark it as ‘use first’.

jars-in-canner-photo-d-stewart7. Make sure the screw caps are finger tight and put the jars back in the canner. Bring the water back to the boil. The water should come about one inch over the top of your jars. Let them boil for 10 minutes.

8. Carefully remove and put on a rack to cool. You’ll hear the snap lids pop soon. That tells you your seal is good. (On my handwritten recipe, shown here, overflowing the jar with brine and turning upside down is what you do with the old style glass lid sealing jars, not the metal snap lids.)

dill-pickles-photo-d-stewart9. When they’ve cooled, take the screw lids off.  Wipe the jars, especially around the top, with warm wet cloth or paper towel. You can put the rings back on, or not as long as the seal is good. Date them and put in a dark, cool place for 6 weeks.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and butter pickles you buy in the store are thinly sliced bread and butter pickles photo d stewartrounds of cucumber only. But most of the recipes for them include sliced onion and sometimes chopped green pepper. I like them the way they come from the store, but I like making my own. So I adapted a good recipe I found online. I make them exactly as below, except I leave out the onion and increase the cucumber. It makes about 6 pint jars.

Recipe (Diana Rattray, thespruce.com)

  • Four Five lbs pickling cucumbers
  • 1 large onion, quartered, sliced abt. 1/4″ thickness
  • 1/3 cup kosher (coarse) salt
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes – optional

slicing-cucumber-photo-d-stewartWash cucumbers and cut off ends. Slice crosswise into 1/8″ slices. Toss in a large bowl with salt and onion; cover with 4-6 cups of ice cubes. Cover and let stand 4 hours or refrigerate overnight.

Boiling water bath:  Wash jars thoroughly and heat water in a small saucepan; put the lids in the saucepan and bring almost to the boil; lower heat to very low to keep the lids hot.

Making pickles: Drain cucumbers in a large colander and rinse with cold water.

pickles-in-pot-photo-d-stewartIn a large, nonreactive [stainless steel, glass, enamel] pot over medium heat, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the drained cucumbers and bring to a boil.

With a slotted spoon, loosely pack the pickles into prepared jars. Ladle the liquid into jars, dividing evenly. With a clean damp cloth, wipe away any drips around the rims of the jars, and then cover with 2-piece jar lid and screw ring. A lid lifter comes in handy to get the bottling-pickles-photo-d-stewartflat lids out of the water, or you could use tongs. Adjust the screw on rings firmly but do not over-tighten.

Place filled jars in the prepared boiling water bath, adding more hot water as needed to bring the water up to about 1 inch above the jars. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and continue boiling for 10 minutes.

Lift the jars out of the water and place on a rack to cool. For best flavor development, store the pickles in a cool, dark place for at least 3 to 4 weeks.

A mandolin slicer (second pic) is great for cutting cucumbers.  My hints & hacks page has more on this wonderful tool. For these pickles, you can use small and large cukes. I’ve used regular field cucumbers and they worked fine. If you like long slices rather than rounds, cut the cukes lengthwise.

Pickled Eggs

pickled eggs (from getcracking.ca)My sister told me an easy way to make pickled eggs. She uses a large jar with a regular style lid because they go through them quickly. If you figure you’ll have yours longer, probably best to use a jar with a sealer lid. You can make larger or smaller quantities, just adjust your ingredients accordingly.

How to make

Hardboil 12 eggs. Peel and prick all around with fork. Half fill a sterilized jar (1 qt size) with white vinegar, 1 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp sugar. Shake to dissolve. Add eggs, and add vinegar to fill jar to top. Put lid on and let sit a week.

The photo came from Everything Eggs with Wendi Hiebert, where you can get lots of egg recipes and information.