Pack a peck of pickles today
I like 'em crunchy, with lots of garlic and a kick of hot chili pepper.
I'm talking about pickles, in particular, my favorites - homemade dills.
Late each summer, hopefully before I pull the last jar of bread-and-butter pickles off the shelf, I call Casale's Farm in Aurora to place my order for pickling cukes.
We love a good crisp pickle at our house. My son Cole likes a snappy dill pickle, and eats them whole right out of the jar. Mark, my husband, is famous for his Dilly Beans, and his winsome Hot, Hot, Hot Peppers.
Pickling, one of the oldest methods of preserving foods, is simply adding acid to foods; when the acidity is high, harmful bacteria can't grow. Processing, or canning, stops the fermentation process and the growth of bacteria that can cause spoiling.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture first published instructions for making pickles at home in the early 1920s. In 1988, the USDA published new home canning procedures after doing extensive research. If you were using a recipe from before that year, it would be wise to call OSU's Extension Service to make sure it is safe.
Want to have some fun? Pack a peck of pickles. It's really an easy process that can involve the whole family or the whole neighborhood. It will fill you with pride when you look upon the gleaming jars you packed so carefully. You will be making memories as well as a delectable food.
Washing the cukes is a good job for the younger members. Fill a galvanized tub with water, dump in the cucumbers and let them go to town scrubbing off any mud.
This recipe for Quick Kosher Dills is one of several you can find in OSU's Extension Service publication 'Pickling Vegetables.' It is available through the service's Web site at http://extension.oregonstate.edu.
Feel free to enhance the seasonings (use more or less garlic, peppercorns or dill) but do not alter the amount of vinegar or water in the recipe, as that would change the acidity. If the flavor is too tart, add a little sugar.
Quick Kosher Dills
Yields 6 to 7 pints, or 3 or 4 quarts
4 pounds pickling cucumbers (4 inch in length)
14 garlic cloves split
¼ cup pickling salt
2 ¾ cups vinegar (5 percent)
3 cups water
14 heads fresh dill
Wash jars in dishwasher to thoroughly clean them. Keep in dishwasher until ready to pack.
Preheat lids according to manufacture's directions.
Wash cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Heat garlic, salt, vinegar and water to boiling. Remove garlic and place four halves into each pint or quart jar. Pack cucumbers into jars, adding 2 heads dill and 4 peppercorns.
Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers to within ½ inch of top. Run a table knife around the inside to release any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims and threads with a clean damp cloth to remove any bits of food that might prevent a seal. Adjust lids and use conventional boiling water canner processing or lower temperature pasteurization, following manufacturer's directions.
From 'Pickling Vegetables', PNW 355, Pacific Northwest Extension Publication,