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Posts Tagged ‘pickles’

HOMEGROWN Life: For Perfect Pickles, Keep It Simple

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012






I am a fantastic canning assistant.  Just ask my mom.  She and my aunts and grandmother always pickled and canned excess food so that and we had dills to snack on, peaches in the winter, and sauerkraut galore.  The preservation process is far from foreign to me.  That being said, I’ve never really tried it without the trained hand of a prize-winning pickler guiding me.  But, how hard could it be? The Internet lives in our pockets now!

A few friends and I made good use of a recent Saturday, and a wave of DIY inspiration, and set out to make pickles.  Some of them first-timers, and all of us ever eager, we planned to christen my (unused) canner and make enough pickles to last us well-past the coming end of the Mayan calendar.  Common sense (and a phone call to my parents) got the better of us, though, and for fear of botulism and first-timer errors, we decided on refrigerator dills. Easy!

Although its not cucumber season (guilty), we found organic cukes on sale.  We consulted Google for a recipe and got 1,600,000 results. WHAT?! After combing through a few of them who recommended ingredients ranging from fresh dill to cinnamon bark, I called my Dad for a recipe.  Always the minimalist, he suggested white vinegar, a little dill, salt and pepper.  “Stay simple for the best results” he warned.

Well, sorry, Pops, that recipe’s not adventurous enough for us! We wanted gourmet pickles, not some boring dills. Instead of heeding his warning, we took the mustard seed, peppercorns, and dill from one recipe, the allspice, cloves, and sugar from another, and, why not, we added some cinnamon bark in a few of the jars. After sterilizing the jars, prepping and brining the onions, cucumbers, garlic and hot pepper, and boiling our very-own ingredients mixture, we ladled it into each jar and placed them in the refrigerator to set.

Finally, after 24 hours of curing time, it was time for a taste-test.  The results? Edible (score!). The pickles were crisp, with a strong vinegar flavor mixed with a strange essence of cinnamon, which tasted odd with garlic.  The experiment was not a total loss, but certainly a lesson learned: we should have stayed simple: maybe the best recipe is vinegar, dill, salt and pepper.

Oh well, we enjoyed the fruits (er, pickles) of our labor. Isn’t getting there half the fun? We’re planning on canning in the near future. I think we’ll stick to a simple old standby recipe next time!


I am the Flock-Tender here on I am keeping a chronicle of my experiences learning, living, and growing a homegrown lifestyle just out of college.

HOMEGROWN Life: The Pickling Project

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010






The pickling project was a sort of a goal for me.I told my dad last year that I wanted to make him sauerkraut next fall with cabbage from my garden.I think he laughed it off, but I was dead serious.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were at a farmer’s market out of town.There was a booth that tons of pickled items.We tasted bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, and pickled carrots.Oh, how divine.Our children stared at us sideways when we came back for seconds.They didn’t have the same passion we did for that vinegary, spiced vegetable.That visit got a fire blazing under my butt, I had never pickled, but was dying to figure it out.

I looked up many different versions of the virtually the same brine mixture.I checked my cookbooks, homesteading books, and recent magazines to make sure that I had the steps down.Apparently, there is no way I could mess up.

I pulled apple cider vinegar, mustard seed, coriander, black peppercorn, and bay leaves down from the spice cabinet.Got out a few clean small jars.Went out into the garden and picked some cukes and zucchini -the carrots and dill were from the store- and we started prepping.

The first batch I did with my four year old’s help.We threw everything, except the veggies, in the pot with a couple of cups of water.I figured out with the first jar, that it wasn’t the best idea to have all the spices in the brine.Everything just collected at the bottom and I had to spoon the spices into the jar.The following is a quick recipe for refrigerator pickles, you can adjust just about everything to taste.

*3 tbsp pickling salt/sea salt

*3cups of filtered/distilled water

*spices – varies on your taste, I used what I had

mustard seed, coriander, peppercorns, dill(fresh or dried), bay leaves, chili peppers(whole) orflakes

*2-4 cups vinegar – I used apple cider vinegar to start until I ran out and then distilled white-the taste was milder, not so sweet again to your taste

*fresh, clean veggies

*grape leaf -I didn’t use this, but heard that it makes your veggies much more crunchier!

To make the brine, bring to a boil the vinegar, water, and salt.Sanitize and prepare jars/lids.Put a grape leaf in the bottom, stuff veggies, spices, and fresh/dried dill in the jar.Pour hot brine over the veggies in the jar within a quarter of an inch from the top and finish off with a dried chili or more dill.

I let them cool for a bit on the counter before sealing them up and placing in the refrigerator.I would have loved to can up some cucumber pickles, but as I mentioned before the garden was less than impressive this year.I still have a few zucchini and beans to pickle, and am considering doing a multi-vegetable pickled salad type thing too.

I still have high hopes for the cabbage in the garden, it’s small but still going -unlike some other things.I’m going to try fermenting the cabbage in a crock for my first batch of sauerkraut.I’ve been reading up on the fermentation process and it’s health benefits and can’t wait to get started.

If you’re interested in part 1 of fermenting – homemade yogurt I posted it over on my blog.There will be more to come as I’m just getting started!

Tory, Sequim, WA

I live in the Pacific Northwest with my non-tree hugging, environmentally friendly, dreamin’-of-farming husband and our four wild, dirt lovin’ kids.  When I’m not writing of the adventures (or misadventures) on our micro-homestead, you might find me stalking Craigslist, Freecycle, or Facebook.  And since I’m all about multi tasking, I’ll probably be out gardening, baking, menu planning, home-educating, exploring with the kiddos, and scheming on how to get chickens past my HOA.