making pickles

so it takes a tornado for me to write this blog post.

i took the photos last week when i made pickles, and the days have since flown by. my days are mostly spent outdoors with little ones, and my evenings are spent catching up on novels, and an episode or three of madmen. how ever many episodes i can fit in between loads of laundry. i’m too fidgety to just sit and watch something without getting something else done in the meantime. about madmen, i’m halfway through season 4 now, and the pyrex sightings seem to have increased exponentially. did you notice that too when you were watching? welcome to the mid 1960s :-)

so anyhoo…there is a tornado warning here, and while i think it will mostly be just a thunderstorm blowing through, the kids are on a mattress in the basement, watching the lights flicker as the lightening strikes above. the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy is playing in the background, and here i am. writing about pickles.

i read labels when shopping, and try to choose the most natural, wholesome things. but there are times i slip up for whatever reason. there was that time i can’t believe it’s not butter followed me home. and somehow, this jar of pickles was in my pantry as well.

ingredient label on pickles jar

is all that really necessary? i’m writing this post not to admonish choices others might make in purchasing processed foods, or to preach about the virtues of all-natural foods. it’s mostly a reminder to myself that making food at home, from scratch, doesn’t have to be complicated.  more than anything, making things myself saves me a whole lot of time i would otherwise have to spend reading labels. i know exactly what’s in what i make. and there’s a certain satisfaction and relief in that.

now making pickles is easy, but you need a recipe you can trust. canning and preserving requires a balance of conditions and chemicals so that the food does not go bad. there are many recipes online. if the thought of heating up/boiling jars to preserve traditionally intimidates you, please check out prairie lemon’s great post about refrigerator pickles. much like freezer jam, these pickles are stored in the fridge, simplifying the process even more.

in addition to the cucumbers, vinegar and salt, here was my list of other ingredients used.

ingredients for pickling cucumbers

not a tartrazine in sight.

pickling spice ingredients

{ this particular pickling spice consists of mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, dill seed, fenugreek, red pepper, black pepper and cloves. }

i just followed the directions for the recipe, using clean, boiled mason jars. the vinegar and coarse salt were boiled together and poured into jars filled with all the other ingredients.

that’s it. i twisted the lids on (just finger tighten, don’t wrench it too tightly) and let the jars cool, listening for the little “pop” to tell me the lid had sealed. i love that sound! :-)

pickles in mason jars

and now that i’ve got a craving for pickles, the thunder continues to roll overhead… and the automatic doors continue to sigh sadly on hitchhiker’s. those in the way of this storm passing through, stay safe (and thanks for all the fish).*

* you had to be there. it’s from the movie.

here are some sites about home preserving, with recipes and tips:

canadian living home preserving guide

ball’s fresh preserving (nice recipe search tool)

i’ve also read and have heard good things about the complete book of small-batch preserving.

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16 Responses to making pickles

  1. 'Joyce' says:

    oh I love it, I love that you love it too. ‘it’ being homemade and minus the tartrazine.

  2. Sheri says:

    It’s sad that in just a couple of generations we have lost many of the do-it-yourself food skills that used to be taken for granted. It’s not just processed food with additive issues, either. ‘Fresh’ foods aren’t what they used to be.

    Your pickles look delicious! Mmmmmmm…

  3. Jess says:

    I think I’ll go eat a pickle :)

  4. Corey says:

    Another reason this is my favorite time of year! Looks nummy.

  5. Keep busy! I use to can and bake bread, sew my own clothes (now I have so many clothes). I once made hot pickled vegetables the old-fashioned way of soaking them in brim for several weeks before canning, they were delicious. falling from the sky…and you have time to catch up on Madmen, the new episodes won’t start until 2012…Pyrex you say…

  6. Jodie says:

    Yum pickles! We’ve been doing our own pickles here too. After doing them last year, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to buying them from the store. Just wanted to add that pickles are a super safe way to start canning. Since there is so much salt and/or vinegar the baddies really have a hard time getting in. The balance is much more delicate with things such as tomatoes in a boiling water canner.

    Also, can’t wait to start watching MadMen. Haven’t got trapped in that one, yet.

  7. Corey says:

    *One of my favorite times of the year.

  8. Beth says:

    Come December you will really enjoy those homemade pickles. And I’m like you in that I’d rather make something from scratch rather than open a box.

  9. Yum. These look great.
    By the way, (once you’re out of these beautiful babies) look for Polish Pickles from an actual Polish company/ store (not Bick’s that calls them Polskie Ogorki/ Polish Pickles, for example) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that they only contain the real things: cucumbers, spices and herbs! (try Starsky ;P)
    I read labels all the time and it is really frustrating to come across all these unnecessary additives when you expect the product to be as simple as dill pickles ;) jam, or juice….
    geez I could go on and on ;)

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