Pickling in the Rain

It rained.

A lot…

Like, almost five inches in two days…

Sorry, Parched Southerners – I’d share if I could…

So, what’s a gardener to do when it’s raining too hard to go outside?

Deal with these, for starters…

Those of you who’ve been around here for a while know that I made and canned my first batch of pickles last year. They were tasty, but because I used plain old salad cukes – hey! you uses what you grows! – they were soft, not crisp and crunchy.

I fixed that this year.

I hope.

Pickling is much easier than I ever thought it would be, and anyone who can boil water and follow a recipe can ‘put up’. And, with several books and blogs devoted to modern small-batch canning, there’s no reason why people with small gardens and small kitchens shouldn’t give it a try.

Recipes that start with ‘pints’ and not ‘bushels’ seem less daunting, don’tcha think?

This is a batch of Spicy Garlic Dills. The recipe comes from Marisa over at Food in Jars, who cooks and cans in her tiny Philadelphia apartment kitchen. Trust me, “I don’t have the space” is no longer a valid excuse for not canning. Just read her stuff for inspiration, if you have doubts…

Start with clean everything…jars, lids, rings, and cukes (about 2 pints of those). Make thick slices, and trim off and throw away the blossom end. That’s the end where the stem, uh, isn’t…

Spices go in the jars first – in this case, a clove of garlic, teaspoon of dill seed, half-teaspoon of black peppercorns, and a quarter-teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Then the sliced cukes, packed in pretty tight.

Simmer the brine – 4 cups of cider vinegar, 4 cups of water, and 5 tablespoons of canning salt – on the stovetop. (See how easy it would be to make a half-recipe? Prep 4 jars instead of 8, halve the brine, proceed to pickle…) Pour the hot brine into the jars, leaving a half-inch between the brine and the top of the jar (headspace) and making sure that the cukes are submerged.

Lids and rings go on, then, into the hot tub…

I mean the kettle…

Process for ten minutes.

That means, let them sit in the hot tub for ten, counting from when the water comes back to a full-boil. They should be covered by an inch of water. Remove immediately when the timer hits the mark. Set them on the counter, on something soft, like an old bath towel, and wait for the ‘plink’.

Resist the urge to touch them – they stay hot a long time. Check your seals the next morning, label, and store…

But first, take a few minutes to admire your handiwork…


14 thoughts on “Pickling in the Rain

  1. I LOVE this post! I only have small Spanish cucumbers, but think they would be ok. Thought I needed special pickling spices which I can´t get here, but now I´ve read this I realise I have everything I need in my storecupboard. They look amazing – bet they taste great too!

    • Be sure to look at Food in Jars, Tanya. She’s got lots of great, easy recipes, and a huge blogroll of other home-canners. You should be able to get all the ingredients you need locally, and you can change-up the spices without hurting the finished product…just don’t change the proportions in the brine, or mess with the processing time.

      Your ‘little Spanish cukes’ are probably pickling-types anyway!

    • I talked to my Dad on Saturday – he’s in Salem, AR – and he said they’d had some rain, and it was a little cooler. My mother, in southwest Oklahoma, is still parched.
      Glad you liked the pictures; it’s not easy in that kitchen on a cloudy day.

    • I figured out what it is about us Canning Crusaders; it’s like when your friend starts a new relationship (or ‘finds Jesus’). We found something that makes us over-the-top giddy, and want everyone else to have the experience.

      So we bug the hell out of the rest of you.

      “Come, on! Just give it a try! I KNOW you’ll love it…”

      We’re zealots. It’s that simple.

      But really, John, you’d love it…. 😉

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