Friday, August 9, 2013

Making Dill Pickles 101

There must be a club out there somewhere who believe that making pickles is hard.  They have spread the word to everyone on the universe and now, everyone just buys their pickles from the store.  Don't get me wrong...the pickles at the store are yummy, but these...are so much yummier!!!  I seemed to have mentioned on social media that I was making pickles one morning and the floods opened.  My friends were dying to know how to make these little green bundles of yumminess.  So I'm obliging. 
A few things before I get started.  You will need a few items before deciding to just randomly make pickles.  You'll need a water bath canner.  That's the giant blue pot I'm using that comes with a metal rack that sits inside.  More than the giant pot, you really need the rack.  You see, if you just place your glass jars at the bottom of a boiling pot of water you'll end up burning what's inside the jars.  Hence, the rack. Also, when you buy this giant pot of goodness, a few other things come inside it.  These are great tools you will need to fetch out the items you place into the pot when it's filled with scalding water. You will also need a few other ingredients.  Dill seed, which you can find in the spices isle at the store. Canning Salt, which is next to the iodized salt.  Canning salt usually just says 'plain salt'.  Reason being...canning salt keeps your brine clear and beautiful.  If you use normal salt you'll end up with a cloudy brine...and that's yucky looking.  You'll also need jars and lids.  If you know nothing about this just comment below and I can help you out.  Let's get started!!!!!
 When making pickles, you must use pickling cucumbers.  These are not the usual cucumbers you find in the grocery store.  They are usually a lot smaller and have little bumps on their skin.  If you used regular cucumbers they would turn to mush after being submerged in liquid hot magma(I mean water and brine).  So, make sure you get the right kind of cucumbers.  They sell them at Costco in bags or you can get them from the farmer's market...which I did!  After washing the cucumbers, cut them into 1/4 inch thick pieces.  I like to place my cut up cucumbers in ice water until I'm ready to shove them into the jars.  Meanwhile, sterilize the jars in the water bath canner.  Once the water comes to a full rolling boil, let the jars boil in the water for 10 minutes.

Get your brine ready!!!  Here's the recipe I use.
Dill Pickle Brine
4 c. water
4 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. canning salt
Add all ingredients together in a NON-STICK* pot and dissolve together
*This is very important!!! Your brine will be cloudy if you use a metal pot!

 Chop 1-2 heads of garlic.  By heads I mean the whole freakin clump of garlic.  It seems like a lot, I know, but aren't eating the garlic, it's just flavoring the pickles.

 Once the jars are done boiling for 10 minutes in the water bath canner, take them out of the water and add the garlic and dill seed to each jar.  These are large jars and I added about 2 heaping Tablespoons of dill seed to each jar and 1 Tablespoon of garlic to each jar. 

 Next, add the cucumbers.  I really jam these guys in there.  Once the jars are full, leaving about a half an inch of headspace(which just means from the top of the jar measure 1/2 an inch down and don't fill the cucumbers up beyond that), start filling the jars with brine.  You will also want to leave about 1/2 an inch of headspace with the brine too. If the cucumbers come up above the brine just remove some of the cucumbers so the brine covers ALL of the cucumbers. Now is the time to check for air bubbles.  I usually just give them a good tap on the sides with a knife and that does the trick.  If not, run a butter knife down the sides of the jars to release any bubbles.  Now, wipe the top of the jars so there isn't any brine left on the rim.  Take the lids for the jars and submerge them in boiling water for a minute or two.  This will soften the seal on the lids so they will really form around the rim when processed.  After the lids are ready, cover the jars with the lids and screw on the top.  Make sure they are on there really well.

 Put the jars back in the water, making sure the water covers the jars completely!  And I mean all the way above the tippy tops of the jars.  Cover and wait for the water to come back up to a boil.  When the water boils...start the clock!  5 minutes is all the pickles process for.  Make sure the water is boiling the whole time the pickles are processing.

 When the buzzer goes off, remove your jars and set aside to cool.  Don't touch them, turn them, hit them, drool on them, or anything.  Just let them be.  You'll hear the jars pop when they are sealed.  Then, you can write on the tops of the lids and such.  Let them sit for about a week before scarfing them down, they just taste better that way!  If they don't made a boo boo, but don't worry!  Stick them in the fridge and enjoy them after letting them sit for about a week. 
 My rule of thumb is the pickles are good for one year on the shelf, so I write the month and year I made them on the top.  Don't worry though, you'll eat these before that problem!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A better me!

I have days where I get deep in thought about random things and decide to change my life and my attitude.  It happens a lot.  Call it new years resolutions(in the middle of the summer).  Today I thought about what my life would have been like had certain things in my life happened differently.  For instance, if I had never moved here to Utah.  I would have never met my husband, which means I wouldn't have this house, this life, my gorgeous kids, and so on.  Or another, if I wasn't a member of this amazing gospel I am a part of.  I wouldn't be this happy, I wouldn't have hope or faith, and I wouldn't really know what to do with my life.  These things have made me think about how I need to be better in my life.  I get in a rut sometimes and then have to figure out how to pull myself out of it.  The gospel has really helped me with this many times in my short life!!!  Anyway, I set a goal today to be better.  I know that's pretty general but really it's not.  Think about it.  In everything I do I need to do it better.  I need to be better at being active.  Maybe that just means parking farther from the entrance of a building...well, I'll do it!  I need to be better at being there for my friends.  Maybe that just means sending them little messages here and there letting them know I'm thinking of them.  Today though, I'm going to be better for my wonderful husband.  He works really hard for our little family and I appreciate that so much.  The least I can do is get ready today.  Do my hair, put on a little makeup, and dress nicely.  Not for myself at all, but so he has something nice to look at when he comes home!!!  I love you babe!!!