May 11, 2008

What's the Dill?

My latest kitchen obsession is with canning. I love the idea of preserving food when it's at its peak freshness or when I have an overabundance of produce that I know will otherwise go bad.

To test the canning waters, I wanted to start with something I felt to be fairly benign and thought pickles fit the bill. I turned to my copy of the classic Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. This was the first cookbook I got when I moved out on my own. With little money and even less cooking skills, this was the perfect catchall for keeping sustenance on my table. Today it sits on my bookshelf, only occasionally referenced, but still revered. With recipes like Spaghetti Pie and Breakfast Casserole, some consider this cookbook a little outdated and June Cleaver-ish. By all accounts, that is probably a little true, but I still find it a great resource for basic cooking needs, no matter how advanced my cooking skills.

Dill Pickles
from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

2 1/2 pounds pickling cucumbers
3 3/4 cups water
3 3/4 cups cider vinegar
6 tablespoons pickling salt
12 to 18 heads fresh dill, or 6 to 8 tablespoons dillseed
6 cloves garlic, halved
Thoroughly rinse cucumbers. In a large saucepan combine water, vinegar and pickling salt. Bring to a boil.

Pack cucumbers loosely into hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Add 2 to 3 heads of dill and 2 garlic clove halves to each jar. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumbers, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes. Let stand 1 week.
These were pretty good, but a little too tart for my taste. Even still, it was a good first attempt and I am more comfortable with the process now. My June 2008 issue of Bon App├ętit arrived last week and it just so happens that the At the Market column was devoted to cucumbers and included a recipe Slightly Sweet Dill Refrigerator Pickles. As the recipe suggests, you can use rice vinegar in place of cider vinegar for a pickle that is less tart. Who knew? So, I will probably give pickles one more try using the BA recipe and then I'll branch out my canning from there.

Stay tuned for more canning adventures.


Anonymous said...

I LVOE canning and I love making pickles! These looks great!

Heather Lightfoot said...

Your pictures are great and instructions look idiot proof. I am going to try these dills, as you don't even have to peel anything!.

Do you have a sweet corn relish receipe?

Heather Lightfoot

Gretchen Noelle said...

I have definitely never canned dill pickles and they really don't exist here. They are a US visit delight. I will have to try making these sometime. I think all the ingredients are sold here - well except for the canning jars! Thanks!

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

Katie, glad to see someone else who shares my enthusiasm for canning. Do you have recipes planned for the near future? I'd love to try some of your canning ideas.

Heather, funny you should ask about sweet corn relish. I have a recipe I've been wanting to try. I don't have any feedback as to how good it is since I have yet to make it, but I am happy to share with you.

Sweet Corn Relish
from Emeril

~1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
~1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
~1 very large sweet onion, such as a Wadmalaw or Vidalia, chopped (about 2 cups)
~2 cups chopped celery
~1/2 cup chopped fresh chili peppers, such as jalapeno
~3 cups white vinegar
~1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
~1 teaspoon celery seeds
~1 teaspoon dry mustard
~1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
~6 cups sweet corn kernels (from about 12 ears)

Put everything but the mustard, turmeric, and corn in a nonreactive pot and simmer for about 5 minutes. Put the mustard and turmeric in a small bowl or teacup and mix together with some of the hot liquid from the pot, then add the mixture to the pot along with the corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Pack the mixture into 6 (1/2 pint) sterilized jars, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Serve this condiment with poultry, beans or rice.

Yield: 6 1/2 pints

Gretchen, if you can find all the ingredients, it was really easy. If canning jars are unavailable where you are, I imagine you can order them online. Maybe try Amazon?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, it makes me feel more confident that i could try it. Always wanted to learn!

SteamyKitchen said...

that's so cool u made your own pickles!

Anonymous said...

I have a few canning recipes in my blog, but most of the time I just make preserves. That's really all I eat in terms of canning. Oh and curds, etc. But there are some really fun recipes out there.

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