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Grandma Rachel's Homemade Pickles PDF Print E-mail
Written by Cris   
Thursday, 09 February 2006

grandma's pickles



This recipe was perfected by Rachel Knight of Denison, Tx.

It was passed on to me by my dad and 2 uncles who grew up on these pickles, and when done right, there are none better.

Read on for the recipe...

I have made a few modifications here and there but always return to the core recipe as it is truly the best, but I now substitute pickling lime for the alum since in side by side testing I found the lime to produce a crisper pickle.  (Go here for my step by step pictorial)

pickling cucumbers
Alum or Pickling Lime
Pickling or Kosher salt
at least 1 quart white vinegar
2 dill heads and/or 2 tsp dill seed per quart jar (I like to do both)
2 dill sprigs per jar
1 tsp peppercorns per jar
2 cloves garlic per jar
1 red jalapeno per jar
(In examining my jar from last year- I noticed that I also added 1 tsp black and yellow mustard seeds)
filtered water

Yield: It is hard to give an exact yield since the size of the cucumbers, the jars and how you pack the jars makes a huge difference, but Since you have 6 quarts of liquid, you can probably at least count on 12 quarts of pickles. Like I said the amount of brine needed per jar will vary.  With my last batch, I used a 1 1/2 times batch of brine and got 4 1/2 gallons of pickles (18 Quarts) with a little brine left over. 

(Where can I find Pickling Supplies?)

Step 1:
Buy a bunch of small cucumbers and the other ingredients- and gather enough jars to accommodate all of the pickles.

Step 2:
Soak the cucumbers overnight in a large bowl in a solution of 2 tsp alum and enough water to cover.
(this is where the recipe was a little fuzzy- as the solution strength depends on the amount of water)


Soak the cucumbers overnight in a solution of 1 cup pickling lime to 1 gallon of water.

(this step can also be done with just a solution of salted water like 1/2 cup to a gallon, but really- the lime works the best)

Step 3:
Wash the soaking mixture off of the pickles.  With the lime you really really have to make sure you get it all off.  It helps to have a veggie scrubber because it really sticks, but trust me do not skip the soak!  The extra work is well worth it!

Step 4:
Sterilize the jars and lids.  This can be done in the dishwasher on HOT or in boiling water.  Either way- do this very close to when you are ready to pickle so they are still piping hot when you are ready for them.  You also want to inspect the jars. Jars with cracks or chipped rims should be replaced.

Step 5:
Mix up the brine in a ratio of 11 oz pickling salt (this is about 1 cup but it's better to go by weight) to 1 quart white vinegar to 5 quarts of water and bring to a boil.  (here is where I take it one step further- I take some extra dill weed and boil it IN THE BRINE to help flavor the liquid a little bit more)
With all of the ingredients at the ready....

Step 6:

Working one jar at a time and as fast as safety will allow, pack the 2 garlic cloves (smash them a little to break them open) the dill weed and seeds (and the heads if you can find or grow them) the peppercorns and the jalapeno with enough cucumbers to fill the hot jar.  Then ladle in enough brine to come about 1/2 inch from the top of the jar (do not overflow- your spices will escape!) 

Cover the hot jar with a hot lid and screw down the sealing ring and move to the next hot jar (I keep them prepped in the hot water until ready for use.)  If done right, the jars will still be hot enough to seal without any additional boiling or steaming.  Check the seals after the jars have cooled.  You should be able to pull on the lid without it coming off if there is a good seal.

A note about safety!

This is an old fashioned recipe!  The USDA would not approve of any canning method that did not include a REALLY LONG BOIL to insure that all of the bacteria that somehow made it into the jars was killed, but that is not how Grandma Rachel did it.  If you do boil the jars, the pickles with not be as crisp, but they will be 100% safe to store in the cupboard.  Never EVER eat any pickles that have are soggy, smell bad or look somehow "off".

Step 7:

If any of the jars did not seal you can either just put them in the refrigerator until they are ready to eat, or you will have to process the jars in a 20 minute boiling water bath to get them to seal and be safe enough to store in the cupboard.  In my own experience, I have lost too many jars to spoilage that I thought were sealed that I never store them at room temperature any more.  I have my own shelf in the refrigerator, and that's where the pickles go.  I just push them to the back and let them be for at least 6 weeks.  After that- they are ready to eat and only get better with age.

I have one jar left in the fridge that must be at least 9 months old, and are still awesome.  I've been eating a them every night for dinner this past week a spear at a time with one of my Nathan's hot dogs, and I have to say, they are just as good as any restaurant pickle, and don't even get me started on the brine!  It is such a shame to waste, that I save it to sip by itself sometimes when the pickles are all gone.

The nine month old pickles.  (these are the same pickles used in the banner of this website)


This weekend I was able to make up a batch.... Go here to read my step by step tutorial with pictures!

If you try this recipe- let us know what you think!  And please please, if you choose to share this recipe, make sure to give my grandmother the credit she deserves, by including her name with the recipe.

-cris {moscomment}

Last Updated ( Saturday, 13 May 2006 )
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