How I make pickles – Part 1
Step 0: I am not mucking about with this one. Make darn sure your kids are not in the house. Get a sitter, call on grandma, send them out with your hubby, whatever. We are working with multiple pots of boiling water and doing things that might splash. There is also going to be mixing of bleach and pouring of vinegar. Evacuate the house except for the pickle maker. I mean it. Also, read all the directions before you start and if there is anything you don’t think you can do safely, do NOT start this project. You are responsible for your own safety as well as that of your kids
Step 1: In a large stock pot mix together 6 cups water, 2 cups vinegar, 1/2 cup of salt. Stir to dissolve salt, cover and set aside. This is your brine. It just looks like water, so I didn’t bother taking a picture. It makes about seven jars of pickles, which also is about one large 4 litre ice cream bucket of cucumbers.
Put your clean jars into your canner, fill the whole thing with enough water to cover the tops of the jars and bring to a boil. Your sterilization time is the same as your processing time. It’s based on altitude. Mine is about 13 minutes. Google will help you find yours.
Wash your sink. I use 1 part bleach mixed with 9 parts water. This ratio is important. More bleach isn’t better. Osmosis will suck the water out of the bacteria or spores if you have a stronger mix and some bacteria can survived dehydration.
Wash your dill. Use hot water and let it soak for a while. Dill attracts aphids. You will likely need to wash it several times to get rid of them all.
Start washing your cukes. Use tepid water and a scrubby brush, not soap or anything else, it can leave residue and ruin all your work.
When you are done, your sink will look like this:
Put your cukes and dill back in the sink and and soak in room temp water.
Put your jar rings into the other side of the sink. Your water should be boiling by now.
You need some special canning tongs to get the jars out. You want to keep most of the water in them as you remove them. If the water stays in the canner, it will over flow when you put the jars full of pickles back in. This is the part where you need to be darn careful or if you can’t, don’t try this at home. We are going to use the boiling water to help sterilize the jar lids. They don’t need to be as clean since the rings don’t touch the food and the lids are one use only. Carefully pour the hot water into the sink with the lids and set the hot jars on a clean tea towel on the counter
This isn’t the end. But it is pretty much the end of the prep work. This post is too big to be one entry without problems. Stay tuned for part two. In real life this whole project is one continuous 2 – 3 hour stretch.