Posts Tagged With: vinegar

Pickles: My First Love

Mrs. Wages dill pickles

I think in the future, looking back on this summer, I can probably call this “The Summer of Pickles”.  I’ve made three different kinds of pickles this summer, mostly out of experimentation, and with the ultimate goal of achieving my heart’s desire:  Vlasic, without the food coloring and preservatives.  I’ve always been a Vlasic girl, and unfortunately, it looks like I’m going to continue to be one.  I just cannot seem to nail down the right recipe!  I tried Mrs. Wages dill mix, and the flavor is great, but the crunch is non-existent.  I tried fermentation, and the crunch is decent and the flavor is unique and delicious, but it just isn’t Vlasic.  The best pickle I’ve made so far, in fact, is the recipe for “Old South” pickles on the back of Mrs. Wages pickling lime mix.  It’s basically a bread-and-butter pickle, but better.  I love them, but I can’t promise my heart to them exclusively.

I’m not going to give up.  I shall pursue my quest for a Vlasic copycat.  And when I master it, you will be the first to know!

In the meantime, here are some tips for pickling cucumbers.  I actually have not followed ALL these tips yet, which hopefully is why my pickles haven’t been super crunchy.  The problem is that I’m growing my own pickling cucumbers, and I only get 2-3 ready at the same time, and I don’t really feel like putting all that effort into 2-3 pickles!  I’ve decided NOT to grow my own pickling cucumbers next year, and instead order them in bulk from my local produce market owner.  He told me that I can order them by size, which will be nice because then they will all be around the same size and ready for pickling at the same time!

Cucumber Tips:

  • Use the cucumbers the day of or up to 24 hours of picking them (for the best crunch.  You can certainly use them after that, but they won’t be as crunchy.)
  • Do not wash the cucumbers until you are ready to use them!  They start to deteriorate much quicker once washed.
  • When making dill pickles, select pickles that are no longer than 6 inches.
  • Cut 1/16 inch off each end of the cucumber.  The blossom end contain enzymes that can cause soft pickles.
  • Use only pickling cucumbers, the pickling brine will not be able to penetrate the wax coating on other cucumbers.

Brine Tips:

  • Use only stainless steel or glass equipment.  Other materials can react with the acid and alter the taste and color of the pickles.  Especially do not use wooden spoons, they will absorb the flavor!  (And, as a former Cutco salesgirl, I feel inclined to urge you to pitch all your wooden spoons and cutting boards.  They are nasty and unsanitary!  That is all.)
  • Always use high-quality commercial white distilled or cider vinegar with 5% acidity unless other types are specified in the recipe.
  • Use Pickling Salt instead of table or iodized salt, and use the correct amount called for in the recipe.
  • Use only new dried spices, if using.  Spices that have been on the shelf for over a year will not produce the best result.
  • You need soft water to make pickles.  If you only have hard water, you can soften your water by doing this: Bring hard water to a boil in a large stainless steel saucepan and boil for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 24 hours.  Skim off any scum that has formed on the surface and carefully decant or ladle into another container, without disturbing the sediment that collects at the bottom.

(All tips were taken from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

Old South on the Left, Refrigerator Pickles in the middle (How cool is that jar? I found 3 of those at a garage sale this summer!), and Mrs. Wages Dill mix on the right.

Here are a few recipes for you to experiment with:

I made the dill pickles with Mrs. Wages dill mix, which is pretty simple to do.  I added Pickle Crisp, and can tell you that if you are a) not using pickling cucumbers, or b) not using freshly picked cucumbers, that even with the Pickle Crisp, you will NOT get crisp pickles.

Adding Pickle Crisp to my dills

Rather than write out a whole post on it, I will just direct you to the wonderful blog post I found for the refrigerator pickles.  Recipe for fermentation-style refrigerator pickles

Doesn’t this jar look like something from the ’70s? I’m slightly concerned it actually might be, since I purchased it from a teeny tiny grocery store in a teeny tiny town. The mix YOU will be buying comes in 2012 packing;)

Old South Cucumber Lime Pickles

What you will need:

7 lbs cucumbers (sliced crosswise)

1 cup Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime

2 gallons water

8 cups white distilled vinegar, 5% acidity

8 cups sugar

1 Tbsp pickling salt

2 tsp mixed pickling spices

Directions:

  1. Soak clean cucumbers in water and lime mixture in crockery or enamel ware for 2 hours or overnight.  Do not use aluminum ware.  (I used my two biggest crockpots)
  2. Remove sliced cucumbers from lime water.  Discard lime water. Rinse 3 times in fresh cold water. Soak 3 hours in fresh ice water.
  3. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and mixed pickling spices in a large pot. Bring to a low boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove syrup from heat and add sliced cucumbers.  Soak 5-6 hours or overnight.
  4. Boil the slices in the syrup 35 minutes.  Fill sterilized jars with hot slices.  Pour hot syrup over the slices, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Cap each jar when filled.
  5. Process pints 10 minutes, quarts 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
  6. Test jars for airtight seals according to manufacturer’s instructions.

(Recipe taken directly off the jar of Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime!)

The Old South pickles are pretty good!   It is a labor-intensive recipe, but I really like them and think it is worth the effort.  I will be making them again next year.

I’m still getting cucumbers out in my garden, so when I get around to it, here is  The next pickle recipe I’m going to try!

Wish me luck!  And good luck with your own!

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Categories: Canning, Fermentation, High-Acid, Pickles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Canning Classes and HOT Pickled Peppers!

That’s me in the salmon shirt at the stove. Isn’t my friend Sarah’s kitchen amazing? It really was the perfect gathering place for 20+ women.

Monday night I was honored to be asked to teach a canning class for my church’s Mom’s Group, MOMentum, at the home of a new friend.  I knew about this class several months ago, a fact that did not discourage me from my typical procrastinating style.  I started thinking about the class a week in advance, but it wasn’t until about a day before the actual class that I finally decided on WHAT to can!  I had to keep it simple since it was an introductory class, I also needed to keep it short since it was an evening class and well, everyone has lives outside of food preservation.

Some of the lovely ladies at the class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, my fabulous in-laws gifted me with an entire bowl of what we all thought were banana peppers.  I discovered this honest mistake at the expense of my poor one-year-old’s reaction to chomping down on a pepper ring.  I quickly tasted the offending ring and realized that this was no innocent banana pepper!  This baby was HOT!  And my baby was MAD!  I’m pretty sure she’s scarred for life over peppers, and there’s a good chance she’ll never trust me again.  Mama duped her, ain’t no two ways about it!

Another shot of this gorgeous stove, and me trying to look nonchalant. I really don’t think “nonchalant” is a word anyone would use to describe me, no matter how hard I try to achieve the appearance of such. (Yes, I’m aware of the oxymoron there)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I digress.  So I settled on pickling these spicy peppers since I had them, and also because the recipe is simple, and they only needed to process for 10 minutes.  Perfect!  I washed and cut them all into rings before the class.  I brought samples of everything I have canned this year, which looked kinda cool on my friend’s counter, I have to admit.  I brought my pressure canner, mostly because I wanted to show it off, but also because I really have no desire to use my “borrowed” boiling-water canner anymore.  The pressure canner is taller, and I never have the concern that it will boil over like I did with the boiling-water canner.  Since I can use my pressure canner AS a boiling-water canner, why not?

Sarah, our host, teaching us about how to make delicious, healthy smoothies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The class went well!  I’m not a natural teacher, despite the fact that I used to be a musical theater actress in high school and college.  I get wildly nervous standing on the same floor as my peers, trying to get information from my brain out of my mouth in a coherent manner.  Being up on a stage with rehearsed lines… way different.  At any rate, we all had a lot of fun, and I think I was able to sputter out the basic steps of canning.

It did occur to me, however, that although the steps are usually included with my recipes in my posts, I really should have a specific page dedicated to them.

More harvest posts are coming as well, I have been canning nearly every day for about two weeks and have lots to share with you!  For now, here is the recipe for Hot Pickled Peppers!

Hot Pickled Peppers (Recipe adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)

What you will need:

  • 2 lbs hot yellow peppers
  • 6 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed

Directions:

  1. Heat jars in boiling-water canner
  2. Place lids in small saucepan, simmer (not boil) until ready to use
  3. Wash peppers and slice into rings.  Consider wearing gloves while doing this step, otherwise avoid touching anything on your face for the rest of the day!
  4. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water and garlic.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes, until garlic flavor has infused the liquid.  Discard garlic.
  5. Pack peppers into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch (1 cm) headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary.  Wipe rim, center lid on jar.  Fingertip-tighten rings.
  6. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are covered by water by at least 1 inch.  Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat, remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars to a towel on the counter, cool, label and store.

Categories: Canning, High-Acid | Tags: , , , , , ,

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