On the same day as my cheesemaking fail I simultaneously experienced my first pickling success. I have LOVED pickles since I was a little girl. My Grandfather used to buy me giant gallon jars of pickles and I would eat the entire thing, and when I grew up I would always eat the capers from my Grandma’s fridge, straight from the jar with a spoon. Pickles are a pretty big deal in my life, but I have never actually made my own. Armed with some canning jars and a can grabber tool I picked up at Lowes, I preserved my very first canned food.
I used the pickling recipe from Country Women (A Handbook for the New Farmer by Jeanne Tetrault and Sherry Thomas), one of my all time favorite homesteading books and a staple for any lady farmer. The best thing about the recipe (for impatient people like me) is that it only takes about 24 hours for the pickles to be “ready.” I have taste-tested every day and they do get better with time, but they are totally edible and delicious after only 24 hours. I suggest making at least 2 jars - 1 to eat right away while you wait for the others to age. I also like that it’s not exact…a pinch of this and that allows you to experiment with the flavors and figure out which you prefer more or less of. We made pickled cucumbers, okra and peppers, and in all cases the recipe is spicy, dilly, crunchy, and everything a pickle ought to be.
First, to sterilize the jars you put both mason jars and lids face-down in an inch of boiling water for 20 minutes. The steam will sterilize the jars. Use a can-grabber or a towel to handle jars as they get super hot! You can also sterilize your stainless steel pot for heating vinegar, etc. by allowing 1 inch of water to boil, covered, for 20 minutes. The steam will sterilize the pot.
- Heat to boiling a mixture of:
2 parts vinegar
1 part water
1 Tbsp. salt to each 3 cups liquid
- Fill sterilized jars with the vegetables. Beans, small onions, and green cherry tomatoes can be used whole. All other vegetables should be cut into thin pieces.
- Add two cloves garlic, a generous pinch of both dill weed and dill seed, 8 peppercorns, and a pinch of mustard seeds to each jar.
- Place a knife in each jar to prevent cracking. Fill each jar with the boiling mixture, remove the knife, wipe the rim, seal, and invert. Let pickles stand for at least 2 weeks before eating (or not…).
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