questionsdoes anyone have any good pickling recipes?

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If you're making pickles for the first time, I strongly recommend that you don't wing it. I'd suggest looking for a copy of Ball's canning book, and using one of the recipes from there. You can probably find a local copy, or buy one from good old Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Blue-Book-Guide-Preserving/dp/0972753702

You may also find this helpful.

http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Complete-Book-Home-Preserving/dp/0778801314/ref=pd_sim_b_1

Even the USDA has a nice publication.

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Canning-Preserving-Revised-Edition/dp/0486409317/ref=pd_sim_b_2

(I've been canning since I was old enough to stand on a chair and help my mother, a very long time ago.)

I may be back, later, with more comments. This is early for me, and I'm not entirely conscious.

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I grew up on home canned foods, but I have never done it myself. As a kid I didn't like sweets, I snacked almost exclusively on tomatoes. We grew big beefsteak tomatoes in the summer back east, and my grandmother "put up" about a hundred quart jars of them for me to eat in the winter. I'd eat a quart jar every day after school. I must have eaten a million tomatoes over the course of my life. My second favorite as a kid was my grandmother's bread and butter pickles, sliced razor thin and packed with about 1/3rd onions, not nearly as sweet as the commercial ones. I am sometimes able to buy them at local craft market but they are never quite right. I also remember the butter churn of homemade sauerkraut my cousins would bury in the fall and dig out in the spring. Nowadays I get all my home canned goods at craft fairs, mostly jellies. My favorite is mesquite honey ginger jelly (for salmon) and grapefruit marmalade. The red chili chardonnay peach jelly I have open is also great.

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Sadly, I have only made quick pickles. I shall be perusing the above tips for information for future reference.

cf cf
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I sure like to eat HM pickles, but my sister always made them so.........
Now she stopped, so I'm going to have to learn. I'm going to check out the tips here too for future ref.

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@moondrake: Don't supposed you'd have a copy of her recipe for the bread and butter pickles by any chance?
I just came back from visiting my dad in PA. Had quite the experience picking wild blackberries from around the cabin and learning how to make jam. He had ordered a flat of blueberries while I was there, so I ended up making a spiced blueberry jam as well. Was so surprised to find how easy canning is, just a bit time consuming. Water takes so much longer to boil in the mountains!

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@lavikinga: Odd. For some reason, I always expected that you knew how to can, and had done it for years. Projecting, I suppose.

Fruits are usually easy, and it's hard to get it wrong. They're high in acid, and you can use easy methods for preserving them. Although all the modern books want you to do a hot water bath after you've made them into jam, I think it's nonsense. There's such a thing as over processing, which lessens the flavor and food value.

Vegetables are different, and that even includes pickles. The number of bad things that can happen when someone cuts a corner, or adds too much or too little of something, is unpleasant. The upside of pickling is that you are adding acidity to something that doesn't have it, and this makes it safer. Bread and butter pickles, like any pickles, depend on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. I'll come back in a bit, and post a recipe for them, and one for pickled beets (the sweet spicy kind).

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Pickled Beets:
Select small, young beets. Wash. Leave 3 inches of tops on, and roots. Cook until skins slip easily (about 15 minutes). Put into cold water. Remove skins, top and roots (I wear rubber gloves for this. I don't like purple hands).

Syrup:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Pack beets into jars to within 1/2 inch of top. Pour boiling syrup over beets to within 1/2 inch of top of jar. Process 30 minutes in Boiling Water Bath.

Recipe from Kerr Home Canning Book, which is no longer published, sadly.

(Notes. Although it says 1/2 inch from top, I always do closer to one inch.)

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@shrdlu: I played around year before last with putting up some very tiny pears in a spiced syrup. My Dad said they were pretty good. I've not opened a jar of them. I didn't really consider that canning as it was more peel & core, shove into jars and pour in a spiced simple syrup (and process in bath).
The making of the jam was much more involved, or maybe it seemed that way because I wasn't working in my own kitchen and using canning equipment that belonged to my grandparents.
I will say the spice blueberry came out very well indeed and I'll look forward to serving it to my in-laws during the holidays. Poor people think I'm some fabulous cook--truth is my mom-in-law is not a cook, so they've suffered as a result :) I had to ask my husband why they were raving about a simple garden salad one night. "Hon, my mom really doesn't cook." But it's a salad?! How hard is it to throw together a salad.
I want to learn to pickle beans and asparagus for cocktail time.

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Bread and Butter Pickles:
4 pounds 4- to 6-inch cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced (about 8 small)
1/3 cup canning salt
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp peppercorns
3 cups vinegar

Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt; cover with ice cubes. Let stand 1 1/2 hours. Drain; rinse; drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot; bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Use sterilized lids and rings, and process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

7 pints

From the Ball Blue Book in canning and preserving.

(Notes: I leave nearly 1 inch in headspace. Less chance for errors.)

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@lavikinga: Although she never voiced it, I am sure my grandmother felt recipes were for amateurs. She was a fabulous southern cook but never wrote anything down or read a recipe. She'd just go in the kitchen and cook, which is exactly how I do it today. My grandmother was lost in early onset Alzheimers in her early 60's when I was a teenager, before I got a chance to try to preserve her methods. I have tried without success for many years to duplicate the Mississippi Mud Cake that she and I used to make together for special occasions, but have finally realized that a large part of the problem is that cocoa powder has changed dramatically since I was a kid. I can get a similar result using baker's chocolate, but it isn't quite right. I know she never put anything but salt in my canned tomatoes. She used fat pale green pickling cucumbers and cut them much thinner for her b&b pickles than @shrdlu's recipe. I am not sure about the seasonings, I never got to make them with her.

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@moondrake: I learned to write my recipes from my mother. I made something when I was a teenager, and she said I should make it again. I said that I wasn't sure how I'd got there, and she gave me one of those special "I love you, my idiot child" looks. I've always kept track of what I do, ever since. It's worked out well.

My daddy's mother was a fabulous cook (also southern), and never used recipes. However, when my daddy was picking on me for needing them, she pointed out that at her age, she just had them memorized. Every woman in years past had a receipt book (recipe book), with instructions for everything from soap making to curing hams. I have recipes from my mother's side that start with things like "...take a peck of flour..." and I've even translated a couple of them.

Both pickle recipes are from canning books; I don't like bread and butter pickles, so I haven't made them in years. My mother sliced her cucumbers thinner, too.

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@shrdlu: When I have a particularly successful dish I write it down to share the recipe with folks at work. But I live alone, so recreating things over and over again from scratch works fine, as each time it will be balanced and seasoned to my tastes at that particular moment. I do occasionally read through recipes. Some friends and I have a cooking club and we pick a different ethnic cuisine and have a pot luck once a month. When it's a cuisine with which I am unfamiliar, I will read through a dozen different recipes for a single dish looking for common ground among them all, and the personal and regional variances that makes them different. Then I come up with a version which starts with that common ground as a foundation and incorporates those variances that interest me.

Baking is different. Other than the occasional substitution or addition and my tendency to throw in a half cup of Greek yogurt in almost any baking project, I generally follow baking recipes closely.

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@shrdlu: I think I'm gonna make the bread and butter ones. It sounds really good and I love bread and butter pickles. Thanks a lot!

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I've made my grandmother's recipe for watermelon pickles, but have found that no one but me eats them.