It’s July, Let’s Make Pickles!

My sisters drove up from San Diego to visit the…epic project that we have unleashed upon our little neck of the Missoula valley, and they brought with them–straight from their southern CA garden–fresh cucumbers!  (Thanks A & E, love you!)

The thing is, Alton hates cucumbers.  It doesn’t make any sense to me how someone could hate something so strongly that has such a subtle, fresh flavor, but I don’t understand a lot of things about Alton.  So, we used our grandma’s recipe to make a creamy, dill cucumber salad and his great-great-grandma’s recipe to make pickles.

When life gives you cucumbers–make pickles!!

Here’s how I made pickles in twenty-four hours and twenty minutes.

1. Step One: Supplies.  Invite your grandma Marlene over for 4th of July.  Ask her to show you how to make pickles.  If you don’t have access to my grandma, start by buying a simple canning kit.  I spent $14 on my canning kit and $11 on a few accessories.  My canning kit included: a spring action jar lifter, a magnetic lid lifter, and a canning funnel with headspace measurements.  Extras include: pickling spice, Ball jars, rings, and fresh seals.    

Choose your own adventure! If you’re bored, move on to Step 2, but if you want to know a few more tidbits about canning supplies, stay here for a moment.

Did you know that back in the good ol’ days, they did not have magnetic lid lifters (MLLs) to easily take your seals out of your boiling water when canning?  People used to use a fork.  Sounds dangerous.  So, if you want to impress your lady friends, wave your MLL around. I did, and I felt like a real pro.

Also, my jar lifter is a spring action.  Spring action!  This makes it easier to pick up and put down scalding hot jars of produce without hurting anyone.  It is also duel action and can pick up cans sideways and upright.

2. Step Two: Ingredients.  Ask your grandma Marlene for a handwritten recipe that is maybe a hundred years old.  I really lucked out on this one.  It reads: 1 quart vinegar, 2 quarts water, 1 cup salt, 1 cup sugar, boil together and put on pickles hot, then seal, let stand in hot water over nite.

I put this mixture on 1.5 pounds of pickles (or two – four pickles depending on how well your garden grows).  

photo 3

3. Step Three: Let’s do this.  Cut up your cucumbers.  I cut mine into spears.  Take out three pots. Boil the above vinegar mixture, a small saucepan with water and your seals, and a larger pan a third of the way filled with water and your Ball jars.  While you’re boiling your vinegar mixture, you’re also sanitizing / preparing your seals and jars.    

When your vinegar mixture is boiling, get ready to do the following steps.

– Take one Ball jar out of it’s water bath and add another jar to the water bath.
– Put 1 teaspoon of Ball pickling spice to an empty 16 oz. jar.
– Cram your pickle spears into your jar until it’s full. 
– Pour your vinegar mixture into the jar until it’s up to the brim.
– Use your magnetic lid lifter to grab a seal out of your small saucepan and place it on your jar.
– Seal with a ring.
– Repeat.  

Now, wait 24 hours, place your pickles out on the dinner table and bask as people, (including Grandma Marlene) try them and smile, surprised that they turned out in a mere twenty-four hours and twenty minutes.  Forthcoming, Primrose Pickles & Preserves. 


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