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Grandma's pickles. Homemade and super flavorful.
Last thing: Give a jar or two (or ten) away. Few gifts bring this much joy. You’re welcome. 🙂
These pickles are easy to make. Since there’s no cooking involved, just pickling, they’re hard to screw up.
But there’s several tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
Here are some of the most useful tips in making Grandma’s pickles.
Go to the farmer's market to get the ingredients. Shop local.
Late July is the prime season for pickling cucumbers. Any earlier or later, and you'll have a tough time finding the cukes you need.
Rinse and scrub the veggies. The cucumbers we got were mostly clean, but it never hurts to get any remaining dirt off the crevices.
Grandma's pickles come whole, but we experimented with coin slices for one of the jars. Will let you know how it went.
Use proper knife technique. That is, unless you have a drink in hand. And isn't that half the fun?
Wait until the end to clean up. Lots of preparation and slicing before you're ready to load the jars.
Fill the gaps between cukes with the other veggies (carrots, celery, etc). Insert the thinner end, first. Makes it easier to wedge 'em in the crevices.
This is pickling spice. Not the easiest to find, but in most grocery stores if you look hard enough.
Use a pitcher to add (filtered) water. Helps get the level perfect.
Yes, that's my Vitamix container.
Gently flip the jars upside-down and back to mix. No need to shake 'em.
Legend has it that the pickles end up more consistently flavored if they're set to "cook" in a cool, dark and quiet place where they won't be disturbed.
Or, perhaps that was just the natural condition of my grandma's basement!
UPDATE 2015: Learnings from Year 2: Break the process into two days. Day 1 is getting all the supplies. Day 2 is prepping, jarring, and pickling.
Do not used radishes or colored carrots.
If you get baby cucumbers, keep them whole. If you can only find larger pickles, don't hesitate to slice them into spears (quarters).
When picking pickling cucumbers, be sure to avoid the soft ones. They may be okay to pickle, but are probably close to going bad. (We learned this the hard, ehem, soft and squishy, way.)