Friday, June 22, 2012


A FB friend complained about leg cramps the other day and a friend said to drink pickle juice.  I had not heard that before, but if no one is looking, I love to drink the salty dill juice of pickles.  Guess I'm not alone in drinking pickle juice.

It won’t be long and we will be getting cucumbers from the garden.  I love fresh cucumbers but not at every meal.  When they start to come in, you need to check the garden daily, because they grow so fast.  If you pick every day, you need to decide what to do with all of them.  I’ll share a couple of cucumber pickles with you so you can reach for a pickle jar from your pantry in the middle of winter and take pride in that you made them.  Pull them out on special occasions and add another course to your meal. 

Fermented Pickles

1 gallon vinegar
16 tbs. dry mustard
1 cup pickling salt

Pour cold solution over cucumbers to within ½ inch of the top of large canning jars.  Put on cap and screw on the band tightly.  When fermentation (bubbling) has ceased (may take over 3 weeks), process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes*. 

It takes three to four weeks for pickles to ferment completely, depending on the temperature in your house.  Pickles ferment best at 70 to 75 degrees F.  Any cooler than that and it will take longer for fermentation.  Any warmer and your pickles may soften and spoil.  Over the three to four week period, your pickles may begin to look a little scary.  They will begin to bubble and a white scum may form on the top (or settle to the bottom) of your jar.  These are normal effects of fermentation and should not alarm you.

Your pickles are finished when they are translucent throughout with no white flesh remaining and taste sour like a Kosher dill pickle. 

After about three weeks,  remove a pickle and cut it in half. If it is horribly salty it needs more time.  Leave the pickles in the brine one more week and try again. 

*You do not need to can these and can store them in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.  They will be crispier if you do not put them in a water bath.

Kosher Dill Pickles

30 or more cucumber (3 inches long)
3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
8 Tbs. pickling salt
Fresh or dried dill (you can use dill seed and weed or both)
Mustard Seed

Wash the cucumbers.  Make a brine of the vinegar, water and salt.  Bring to boil.  Place a generous layer of dill,  sliced garlic gloves and ½ tbs. of mustard seed in the bottom of each sterilized quart jar.  Pack the cucumbers into the jars.  When the jar is half full, add more dill and finish packing the jar with cucumbers.  Fill the jar to within ½ inch of the top and clean the lip of the jar.  Place a lid on and screw on the band tightly.  Process the jars 20 minutes in boiling water bath.  Do not over process or you will not have a crispy pickle.  Makes 4 quarts.  Remember to save the juice for us crazies that love the juice.

Refrigerator Pickles

2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
4 cups sugar
3 teaspoons celery seed
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon peppercorns
4 or 5 fresh dill sprigs
10 sliced cucumbers
1 sliced large onion

Mix vinegar, salt, sugar, celery seed, garlic and peppercorns in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly just until sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you slice the cucumbers and onions. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers (use non reactive bowl). Stir until everything is combined. Add the dill sprigs. Push everything under the liquid. Cover and allow to sit on the counter at room temperature for six hours. Transfer to sterilized jars. Cover tightly and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them.

Sweet Pickles

Use medium sized washed cucumbers.  Wash and cut them into sticks.  Pour boiling water over them and let stand for 4 to 5 hours.  Drain and pack them solidly into sterilized jars. 

Make a solution of:

3 ¾ cups vinegar
3 cups sugar (you can if you like them sweeter)
3 tbs. salt
4 ½ tsp. celery seed
4 ½ tsp. turmeric
¾ tsp. mustard seed

Boil the solution for 5 minutes.  Pour the boiling solution over the cucumber sticks to within ½ inch of the top of the jar.  Make sure the lip of the jar is clean and put on the lid and screw the band on tightly.  Process the pickles in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Use timer and do not over cook pickles or they will not be crisp.  Should make 6 pints.

Enjoy the bounty of your cucumbers.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

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