Homemade Pickles – Two Ways!

If you saw our last post, you’ve seen how many cucumbers The Yager Homestead is producing, and how huge they are! We are making them faster than we can eat them. Although our neighbors appreciate the random bags of cukes on their doorstep, we’ve got to find a better way to process these.

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We’ve had two straight days of hauls like these, which is a lot for 3 people!

Guru Penny, as you’ll remember from her advice about gardening and Garden Aprons, mentioned she had a great recipe for homemade pickles – a little sweet and plenty of dill. We, along with our extended family members, LOVE pickles. E is basically going to turn into a pickle one day. So we decided to give it a go.

Guru Penny’s recipe calls for the pickles to sit for about 3 months. As we’ve mentioned before, patience is a virtue that B lacks. So, we found another recipe from a friend that only takes about 3 weeks. We have plenty of cucumbers to spare, so we decided to try both!

First – Penny’s recipe:

Materials:

  • Cucumbers!
  • 1 quart of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1/2 cup (or less) of sugar
  • 3/4 cup pickling salt (we used Kosher salt)
  • 1 sprig of dill per jar
  • Garlic cloves (optional)
  • Jalapeno (optional)
  • Onion (optional)
  • Jars, rings, and lids

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The first thing we did was sterilize the jars. They had been sitting in storage for a bit, so who knows what kind of germs they were harboring. To do this, we filled a large soup pot with water, turned the burner on high, and let the jars simmer for about 5 minutes. Then, we took the jars out of the water (using a secure-lift jar gripper). Let them dry upside down to make sure all the water drains.

Next, we started the brine. We added the ACV, water, salt, and sugar to another pan. We brought the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. We let it boil for just a minute, and then removed it from heat. ACV is a strong smell – if you’re like B, you’ll need to turn on a vent or open a window.

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While the brine was beginning to boil, we cut up our cucumbers. For spears, we cut them into sixths. For slices, we used a 1/4″ slicer (we like them thin and crunchy). B sliced part of a thumb, but luckily the cucumbers were untainted. Oh, and B was okay.

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This was only like 4 cucumbers! You can see we still had more to go in the background.

Next, we added our ingredients. For our purposes, we just used a clove of garlic and a sprig of dill for each jar. However, if you like spicy or other flavors, this is the time to add jalapenos, onions, parsley, or whatever other flavor you want. We added these first, and then stuffed as many cucumbers in as possible. If your cukes are long, like ours, you may need to cut off the ends so the jar can seal. After you’ve added your cukes, carefully pour the brine mixture into the jars. Pour it as close to the top as you can, making sure to cover all of your cucumbers. If you don’t cover a portion of the cucumber, it’ll be a bright green of a fresh cucumber instead of the green of the dill.

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We should have added a little more brine to the second from the right. Live and learn.

At this point, we were ready to close and seal the jars. We brought our water in the stew pot back to a simmer (not a full boil). We put a lid and ring on each jar, and slightly tightened each one. Using the jar lifter, we set our jars into the simmering water. The water should come up to about an inch from the top of the jars.

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We covered the pot and let them simmer for about 5 minutes. Then, we lifted them out of the bath and let them cool. This is the fun part, because while the jars cool, you get to hear the POP of the lids letting you know they’ve sealed. Two of ours popped, so we will store them in dry storage. For the two that didn’t, we will store them in the fridge. Penny’s recipe will sit for 3 whole months (again, patience) so we have a while to wait.

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For the second recipe, use distilled vinegar instead of ACV, and omit the sugar. The rest of the process is the same. The second recipe only needs to sit for 3 weeks instead of three months, so we should have a treat pretty soon! We will report back!

We labeled our jars to let us know what day we can enjoy them. We are so excited to be saving and storing our food for future use! What veggies do you can, and what process works for you? We’d love to learn more!

-TBE

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