“I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last…”

First of all, can you believe I found a Shakespeare pickle quote?!? Fur real. It’s from the Tempest and it makes me laugh. I had no idea that being “in a pickle” was from Shakespeare! But I digress…

This is really supposed to be a post about making pickles. Glenn’s Grandma Breckel always made pickles and early in our marriage he asked if I would try to make them. My sweet MIL gave me the recipe and we’ve been making them almost every summer since. People are funny about home canning. It has this mystique about it. Everyone is so impressed….until they try it themselves. And then it turns out, it’s not that big of a deal. Pretty simple, in fact.

So last week was pickle making here in Boring. Our friend Janet (from strawberry jam making) came and helped (she rocks!) and we knocked it out in one evening. Oh yeah! Here’s the super easy breakdown:

I purchased my ingredients at “The Barn.” It’s a local, fresh produce spot near my parents that has been there since I can remember. I love it. It’s all locally grown produce and therefore super fresh from the farm. I’m a fan of the “make local habit” campaign so it’s perfect. And they’re open daily so no waiting for the weekly farmers market because let’s face it, when you need cucumbers, you need cucumbers.

I bought two 10-pound bags of the super small pickling cucumbers. They have larger bags (25 pounds) that are a better deal but I love the tiny cucumbers because I love tiny pickles. So in my book, it’s worth the money. In general I can get about a quart of pickles for every pound of cucumbers. I also purchased two giant bunches of fresh dill (my car smelled uh. maz. ing.), pickling salt, garlic, pickling spice, white vinegar, and spring water. Next year I think I will try making my own pickling spice but for now I used the pre-mixed kind. And yes, I purchase bottled water. Especially here at camp, where we are on well-water, I want to make sure the flavor of the pickles isn’t affected by the local water.
Janet cleaned all of the cucumbers while I got the brine going. Then we set up an assembly line of sorts: clean cucumbers, pieces of dill, sliced garlic (Glenn believes if some is good, more is better,) pickling spice, and small red chili peppers. We ended up with 18 quarts of pickles. I also pickled some cauliflower while we had all of the brine and dill on hand. Yum!

Here’s the recipe:

Grandma Breckel’s Dill Pickles
(They are a smidge spicy but oh so yummy!)

Use medium sized, firm cucumbers. Let stand in cold water over night.* Next day drain and pack in sterilized jars with fresh dill, 1 tsp. mixed pickling spices, a clove of sliced garlic and 1 small hot chili pepper. (The recipe actually says a chilly pepper. Love that!) Cover with following brine:

1 cup salt
1 qt. vinegar
3 qts. water

Bring to a boil and pour over cucumbers in jars. Seal with lids that have been sterilized. Covers 8 quarts of pickles.

*Not exactly sure what this is about…we’ve tried the recipe with the overnight soak or skipped it entirely and can’t really tell a difference. If you know what it’s about, please share!

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