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Pickles are the Spice of Life

Home & Garden
Contributed by : Laura Matter

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Pickles Are the Spice of Life!

Sheri Hinsaw, Garden Hotline Educator, Seattle Tilth

Pickling cucumbers are starting to be harvested in our
gardens, and you can find them in Farmers Markets around Seattle. They are
small, bumpy cucumbers that are shaped like the letter "C". 

Dill, sweet, bread and butter- there are many types of
pickles and now is the perfect time to make them!  You can make pickles by using the
fermentation method, which can take up to 14 days, or you can make "quick"
pickles that are preserved using vinegar and salt and can be canned in a few
hours. Bread and Butter pickles are flavored with turmeric and are
traditionally cut in rounds.  Sweet
pickles are just that, made with sugar. 
Dill pickles are traditionally made with mustard seed, dill, and
"pickling spices".

"Pickling spices" are a mixture of spices that may contain
the following -  cinnamon, mustard seed,
bay leaves, allspice, dill seed, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, coriander,
juniper berries, mace, dried hot peppers, or cardamom.  Usually these spices are added directly to
canning jars before adding cucumbers, or some recipes call for a sachet of
spices to be added when creating the brind then discarded before canning.  You can use cheesecloth for this.

All pickle recipes include salt.  According to the National Center for Home
Food Preservation, both fermented and quick pickles can be made using iodized
or non-iodized table salt. However, many table salts include non-caking
materials that will make your brine cloudy. They do not recommend flaky salt
like kosher or sea salts, since the salt particles vary in density so much you
may not use the right amount to ensure a safe product.  You can find salt packaged specifically for
pickling veggies.

Quick Fresh-Pack Dill Pickles

Recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

 8 lbs of 3- to 5-inch pickling

 2 gallons water

 1 cups canning or pickling salt

 1 quarts white vinegar (make
sure the label says 5%)

  cup sugar

 2 quarts water

 2 tbsp whole mixed pickling

 About 3 tbsp whole mustard seed
(2 tsp to 1 tsp per pint jar)

 About 14 heads of fresh dill (3
heads to 1 heads per pint jar)

OR: 4 tbsp dill seed (1 tbsp to 1 tsp per pint jar)


Yield: 7 to 9 pints

Wash cucumbers well and cut 1/16-inch slice off
blossom end and discard, but leave -inch of stem attached.  If you leave the blossom end on, you will have
slimy, soft pickles rather than crunchy ones.

Dissolve cup salt in 2 gals water. Pour over
cucumbers and let stand 12 hours. Drain.

Combine vinegar, cup salt, sugar and 2 quarts
water. Add mixed pickling spices tied in a clean piece of cheesecloth. Heat to

Fill jars with cucumbers. Add 1 tsp mustard seed
and 1 heads fresh dill per pint. Cover with boiling pickling solution, leaving
-inch headspace. 

Screw on lids securely but not too tight.

Can the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes for
pints, 15 minutes for quart jars. 

More Canning Information:

National Center for Home Food Preservation:

Ball Corporation Recipes:


Call the Garden Hotline for personalized natural gardening help at (206) 633-0224 or email



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