I love dill pickles and snack on them several times a week, so I decided to try making my own back in September. I watched a bunch of videos and read a bunch of articles, and one of my mom’s friends has made her own, so I got some info from her. With all the tools and ingredients gathered, I, with the help of my mother who is much more kitchen-savvy than I am, gave it a go. I wanted to blog about the experience way back when we did it (early September) but we did run into a few issues, and I didn’t want to advertise what we did/the method until I could guarantee they turned out edible.
Basically, everything had gone according to plan until it got to the sealing part. We boiled the can lids but we did it too early, so by the time the brine was in the jars, they weren’t as hot as they should have been. That was our first goof. The second goof was that we were using tall 1L jars, so even my mother’s biggest pot was too short for us to bathe the jars upright (a common thing done when canning food). So we bathed them sideways. This worked well enough, but one of the jars wasn’t sealed perfectly so some brine leaked out.
After we bathed the first four jars sideways, we paused to consult my mother’s friend on if we should continue them sideways. Said friend answered that she didn’t bathe her pickles at all, she just heats the jars before they’re filled and ensures the lids pop. So we debated not bathing the remaining six, or doing them upright or even upsidedown. My mother went into full parental mode and started worrying about bacteria and what ingredients could go bad over the several months they sit if they’re not boiled and properly sealed (she did not like my comment of “if I die because of a bad pickle, that’d be a decent way to go.”) In the end, we bathed five more sideways, and left one out as per Mom’s friend’s method. Some of the lids took a while to pop (signaling that they’re sealed), but luckily, we heard the last one pop during dinner, and let me tell you, the Beetlejuice musical got it wrong, because those pops are in fact the most beautiful sound.
So here we are in November, and we’ve opened two jars (the unbathed one [no one died!] and one of the regular ones) and things weren’t perfect. The pickles in the unbathed jar were a little too tough and tasted a bit too cucumbery, but I quickly got used to it and came to enjoy them. The pickles in the bathed jar weren’t as crunchy as I would have liked, so I’m kind of disappointed with that. My father thinks we shouldn’t have bathed them for 10 minutes, but literally every pickle recipe online involving bathing says 10-15 minutes, so I’m not sure what I could have done differently. Maybe only 5 minutes would have sufficed.
I didn’t use a fancy recipe, so if you want to do your own pickling, anything you find online will be fine. The only changes I made were that in one jar, I added a tiny bit of my father’s ghost pepper, and in another jar I added thyme. We’ve yet to try those ones, though.
Here are some pictures of my process. (Click them to enlarge)
The experience was harder than I thought it would be, and I’m very glad I had my mom there to help because the process took longer than I anticipated, and as I mentioned, there were some roadblocks, so having her to talk things through with was great. But it was really fun to do, and if you like pickles and want to try, I suggest it! It’s not expensive, and as long as you trust kids around knives and boiling water, they can help too!
It sucks that they didn’t turn out perfectly crunchy, but they’re still edible, and I look forward to trying it all again next year and improving!
That’s all for now!