Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The First Batch of Pickles is Done

I learned how to make dill pickles over forty years ago. My husband's aunt was very patient with me - teaching me everything from how to pick the cucumbers, how to make sure they were free of any dirt or debris, making the brine, and packing them so tight that you think you have overdone it.  She explained to me that the cucumbers will shrink when they are processed in the water bath.

She was right on all accounts.  She was also a great teacher with a willing student.  I'm thankful for her time and patience.  I had no idea -at the time - that a person could make their own pickles.  As far as my mom knew, pickles came from a shelf at the local grocery store.  Although I found out just before she passed that she knew how to make pickles and a number of other things.  She just hated doing it as a child of the Depression.  Never once in her 89 years did she let on that she had such skills.

Today I made a batch of dill pickles.  Organic ones, from my garden.  I got six pints out of the 22 cucumber's I've collected over the past four days.  There was a time people canned to save money.  Not so much today unless your other veggies come up at the same time as the cucumbers.  Mine did not.  I had to buy celery and a green pepper.  Both being organic the cost was a bit more than it was forty some years ago.

I used half a pepper that cost 1.29 for the whole pepper.  So about .62 cents.  I had the garlic, but the celery was (on sale) 1.69.  I used 3 stalks.   I had to buy dill because I didn't have the foresight to grow it this year.  That was 2.49.  I used 1/3 of the bunch.  I also had the salt and vinegar.  Now that I see it in print I guess it was a frugal adventure.  Added up the cost was:

Pepper, .62 cents
Celery, .43 cents
Cucumbers, one seed, .00 cents
Salt, 3/4 cup, .19 cents (.50 for 2 cups)
Vinegar, 2 cups, about .34 cents (Gallon was 2.89)
Dill, 2.49  I used 1/3 of it, .81 cents

If my math is correct that is under 2.15 for six jars.  The jars were my birthday gift from a family member, as were the lids.

So, yes, I did pretty well on the frugal front.

I used the recipe that I used 40 years ago.  These (the above list) were the items in the recipe.  I double checked in a current canning book for processing time and they had all sorts of added ingredients such as pickling spices along with the basic ingredients.  I dismissed the recipe and used the tried and true one from my earlier years..

If all of the flowers on my plant turn to cucumbers, I will have enough for another batch of six and some for salads and snacks.  It will take 5 weeks for them to set and become pickles.  Well worth the wait.  Yum!

Six pints of yumminess.  I sliced some long and slender for sandwiches, one jar was packed with whole pickles and the rest were sliced.  In five weeks we will be enjoying the fruits of my labor.  This is where my patience is tried!

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