Easy Homemade Dill Pickles

The perfect formula for making homemade dill pickles…

Last summer I had two friends: one with too many cucumbers and one with too much dill. This worked out very well for my family, seeing as I had too many empty jars and too many hungry children to feed who really like pickles. (Not to worry. I also had more than two friends.)

So I took the cast-off cucumbers and dill, and I searched online for how to make pickles. Some recipes seemed complicated and some included weird ingredients – so in true Laura “can’t we just keep this simple” fashion, I played with a mixture of all the ideas I found to see if I could make the pickle process easy.

Not only is this easy…it is toooooo easy. We’re talking: wash cucumbers, slice cucumbers, stuff them into a jar with a few other ingredients, water bath for 5 minutes. That easy.

Homemade Dill Pickles

Easy as it was, I had to wonder: would the pickles taste good? Would they crunch like they were supposed to? It’s not like I had much money invested in them (thanks to my generous friends who supplied me with free cukes and dill), but I sure was hoping for a happy pickle experience. If successful, I knew this would be a wonderful food to be able to pull out of my pantry to quickly add to a meal.

Bingo! My family loves these. And they crunch like they are supposed to. No soggy pickles here.

Here’s the key to keeping the crunch in your pickle: Do not over water bath them. We’re not trying to kill the cukes. Just boil the jars long enough to get the lids to seal – about 5 minutes.

Now about the dill. Hey, what’s the big dill? (I’ve always wanted to say that. My life is now complete.) But about the dill. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to in the recipe when I say “1 Dill Flower” I’m talking about this:

So this is dill.

See how there are little tiny bunches of yellow plants all joined together into one giant – bigger than your hand – bunch of yellow plants? When I say “1 Dill Flower” I’m talking about the entire giant big huge bunch all attached to each other. I made this recipe up all by myself based on other recipes, so whose to say if I’m right? But my pickles turned out amazing, so I’m going to go with, “yep. I’m right.” Use an entire, big flower.

And now I want to read To Kill a Mockingbird for the 26th time. If you’ve read it, you know why. But seriously, who names their kid Dill? Or Scout for that matter. (Like for rill. What’s the dill? Okay now my life is complete.)

Easy Homemade Dill Pickles Yum

Easy Homemade Dill Pickles
 
Author:
Serves: 6 pints
Ingredients
  • About 12 cucumbers
  • Per jar:
  • 1 Dill Flower (a full, big one)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 minced clove of fresh garlic
  • Liquid mixture for 6 pint jars:
  • 2¼ cups white vinegar
  • 2¼ cups water
  • 3 Tablespoons sea salt
Instructions
  1. Wash and sterilize 6 pint-sized jars.
  2. Place the following into the bottom of each prepared jar:
  3. Dill Flower (a full, big one) plus ½ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 minced clove of fresh garlic
  4. Wash 12-ish medium-sized cucumbers, then cut them into spears or slices. Pack them into each jar. (I averaged about 2 cucumbers per pint jar.)
  5. Stir the vinegar, water, and sea salt together on the stove over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until the salt dissolves. (Do not boil the mixture.)
  6. Pour the hot liquids into each jar, immersing the cucumbers, allowing ½ inch of space at the top.
  7. Secure lids and rings, then place in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove jars and be sure they seal properly.

Easy Homemade Dill Pickles

This is, by far, the easiest canning recipe I’ve ever tried. How about you? Have you tried making pickles? Are you a To Kill a Mockingbird fan?

P.S. Here’s my Sweet Pickle Relish recipe if you still have too many cucumbers. :)

Confessions of an Applesauce Maker

I’m not making any applesauce this year.  Not even a little bit. As much as I love making and preserving applesauce for my family, and as easy as it is to make applesauce with my Victorio – I am very happy to take the year off from this endeavor.

Why am I not making applesauce? Because I counted up jars I have leftover from the stash I made last year, and I found that I have plenty of applesauce to last us through the winter. I don’t need any, so I’m checking that task off my list. Yay!

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For those of you who don’t have a pantry full of applesauce, I did want to remind you of what I learned last year:  Making applesauce with a Victorio is by far the easiest method I’ve found.

So how about you? Are you making applesauce this year?

I Should Become a Victorio Salesman

I think I might just do it.

I love the Victorio Food Strainer so much that I may just go into business. I’ll pack a bunch of apples and tomatoes into my kids’ wagon, then I’ll go door to door, demonstrating to everyone I meet how wonderful the Victorio is for making applesauce and tomato sauce. I’ll show everyone how easy it is to set up, how much time it saves in making these great sauces, and how lovely the finished product is. Once they see it, they will hug me and thank me for sharing this invaluable kitchen tool. Then they will excitedly begin chopping some apples so that they too can easily make applesauce in their brand new Victorio.

It will be beautiful. Can’t you just picture it?

Sure, some will be skeptical. They will say to me, “Thanks anyway, but I already know how to make applesauce. It’s easy. You just have to core the apples, cook them, then run them through a blender.”  And then I will tell them that as easy as that is, using the Victorio makes the process even easier and saves even more time! And I will add some exclamation marks to the end of my sentence because of how much time this will save them.   !!!!!!!

Yes, it just might be my new career. But first, I’ve got to finish using my Victorio in my own kitchen to make my own tomato sauce and apple sauce…

This message was brought to you by the Heavenly Homemaker after quickly and excitedly finishing a delicious batch of tomato sauce.

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce – easy!

When you make tomato sauce on the stove-top, it takes several hours, plus you have to stir the sauce quite often to keep it from scalding on the bottom. No biggie – I’ve done it this way forever and it hasn’t killed me yet.  But guess what? My friend Anne just figured out a way to make tomato sauce in the oven and it’s even easier!!!! (Maybe some of you  have been doing it this way all along and it’s only new to Anne and me?)

If you’ve read my stove-top tomato sauce directions, you already know that I do not peel my tomatoes nor do I take the seeds out. I just blend up the tomatoes and call it good. Some might call this lazy. Shucks, I call this lazy. But this is one instance where being lazy works fine. You are very welcome to take off the skins and take out the seeds if you prefer.

I never measure or weigh my tomatoes, but in doing a little searching on the internet, I find that it takes 35-45 pounds of tomatoes to make 7 quarts of sauce. How many tomatoes equals one pound? It totally depends on the tomato. What kind of tomatoes can you use to make sauce? Whatever kind you want. We always plant a variety of tomatoes and throw them all together into our sauce.

Because tomatoes are very acidic (especially heirloom tomatoes), I’m not terribly concerned about adding lemon juice to my sauce. However, if you feel more comfortable adding lemon juice for safety, you’ll want to use about 2 Tablespoons in each quart jar.

Now, how to make Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce:

First wash your tomatoes (unless you enjoy the grit of soil from your garden…mmm).

Next, cut up your tomatoes and throw them into a roasting pan or any large baking dish. I usually cut my larger tomatoes into fourths and my smaller tomatoes in half.

Place the container of tomatoes (uncovered) into a 350° oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until the tomatoes are all shrivelled up and are floating in their own juices.

Run them through a strainer so that all you have left is the shrivelled tomatoes.

Place the tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Or better yet!! Run them through a Victorio!!!

Can them in a water bath (you can read more about this process here) for 25-30 minutes.

Are you a canner? Have you ever tried making tomato sauce this way?

Tattler Lids and Flying Knives

If you recall, I was sent some reusable Tattler canning lids to review several weeks ago. I wrote the review based on positive feedback I’d heard from my friends about Tattler, but I’ve been waiting for my tomatoes to finally turn red so I could actually can something myself and use my new lids!! Finally, last weekend I was able to play with my new “toys”.

I’m very excited to share, in response to many of you asking about Tattler lids, “Do they really work?”  YES! They really work!

Because I was so giddy with excitement over my first canning experience of this season, and because based on this happy jar sealing experience, Tattler and I are going to become extremely close friends, I got a little bit camera happy.

Here we have my Tattler lids sealed on tomato sauce jars with okra, peppers and cucumbers in the background:

Here we have an extreme close up of the Tattler lids sealed on the tomato sauce jars. I think their smiles look so nice in this one, if in fact Tattler lids can smile (and I think we would all agree that they can, indeed, smile):


Here they are again, sitting next to their box with my water glass to the right, and my bouquet of last week’s birthday flowers in the background:

And here is a picture of three of my boys painting last Tuesday. While I love my Tattler lids, I love my children more. Sometimes I’m guilty of snapping pictures of weird things like butter splattered on pineapple and taking umpteen pictures of canning jars at a variety of angles, and I fail to take pictures of my children painting dots with q-tips.


We have been studying Australia, and came across a special painting style the Aborigines use:  Warlpiri. We decided to try it. Unfortunately, all of our paint colors except red and yellow were dried out and crusty. Therefore, my kids got to paint Warlpiri art using only red, yellow and orange for color choices.  All of our paintings looked kind of like an Australian sunset, but it sure was fun.

How does the picture of my boys relate to Tattler and canning tomato sauce? It doesn’t. Although, if you look real close at my pantry doors right behind Elias, you can see a plastic knife stuck through the door handles. I first noticed that Malachi had parked his “weapon of the day” between the pantry door handles while my arms were full of freshly canned tomato sauce jars, which made it impossible to open the doors with my foot, which had been my original plan. After setting all of the tomato jars back down, I may or may not have yanked the knife out with a grimace and flung it into the living room so that I could resume my task.

I bet you didn’t know that sometimes finding my boys’ toys in precarious places all over the house causes me to fling knives into the living room.

Although now that I see a picture of it here, I find the knife through the pantry door handles rather endearing.

Remind me of this cuteness tomorrow after I’ve just tripped over a lightsaber.

Gratituesday: Oh, the Abundance

gratituesday

I am writing this Gratituesday post as a reminder to myself to be grateful for Pete’s sake. You know why? Because lately I have been a whiny baby who has been feeling very sorry for herself. 

What in the world is wrong with me? 

I’ve been whining because I have tomatoes and peppers needing to be picked at a crazy fast pace. I can hardly keep up with making them all into tomato sauce and salsa. They are constantly covering my counter-tops.

salsa_1

Also, my friend gave me a huge bunch grapes that I need to hurry and do something with.  And I have two sacks of apples that I keep tripping over that really should be made into applesauce. And there are more apples to be picked if I could ever get around to going to pick them.

My kitchen is exploding with abundance…and I am whining.

I’m whining because I have too much food.  Really Laura? I’m whining because I have so much work to do, really?

It’s time for me to stop whining and be grateful. 

Thank you for letting me confess my rotten attitude and for holding me accountable to changing it.

God is good and if I can’t remember that…perhaps I should just take a good look around my kitchen at all the abundance. Because of Him, my family will not go hungry. 

Nope, in fact…we’ll be eating like kings.

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday? Write about it on your blog, then come link up with us here. If you don’t have a blog, be sure to leave a comment letting us know what you’re grateful for!

If you are linking up a blog post for Gratituesday,
please copy and paste the following sentence into your post! Thanks!


Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Freezing and Canning Peaches for Winter

I mentioned that over the weekend I received millions and millions (okay, maybe not millions) of peaches from a lady in town. I’ve been busy preserving them for winter and thought I’d walk through the steps with you.

Please note:  These peaches were so awesome and juicy, and since there were so many of them, I felt that none of us needed to hold back on how many we ate. So, as I was standing in my kitchen peeling and slicing peaches, and  peach juice was running down my arms…I was also biting into peaches as I worked, because I just couldn’t resist. Therefore, I also had peach juice running down my chin. But with peach juice all over my hands and running down my arms, it’s not like I could do much about my chin, you know? Not one of my finer moments.

Thought you might like to picture that.

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If you remember, I was given four boxes of peaches. (I did share a few with some friends.)

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In the past, I’ve always peeled my peaches with a knife…and that’s been fine. But I had so many peaches this time, I went ahead and tried this method of peeling, and whoa was it a time saver! Just put your peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds…pull them out…

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And those skins just peel right off!! It was awesome. Except for when they didn’t peel right off, which happened with a few of them for some reason. (Just thought I’d tell you that so that if not all of them peel right off for you, you’ll know that you aren’t the only one!) 

(You don’t have to peel your peaches if you’re going to freeze them. They’ll be more nutritious if you leave the peelings on, and it will save so much time too!) 

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To freeze peaches, just peel, slice and lay the peach slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put the pan into the freezer until the peaches are frozen, about two hours. (Or longer if you forget they’re in there.)  Then put them into a freezer bag and you’ve got great peaches for smoothies and slushies!! And cobblers and crisps! (If you feel like skipping this step and simply just putting your peach slices directly into a pan without freezing them individually like this first, you can…but you’ll end up with one big gallon sized frozen peach-sicle, and you may be very frustrated when you want only part of the rock hard peach-sicle for a smoothie. Just so ya know.)

Now…to can peaches…this is what I do. There are other ways to do it…this is just the way I do it! Please be sure to go back and read Canning 101 for the canning basics!

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I make a honey/water solution on my stove…which is 2 T. honey to every 5 cups of water. Heat it on the stove and let it sit warm while you prepare your peaches.

Sterilize your jars.

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Take out a hot jar and put in about 1/16 teaspoon of ascorbic acid to keep your peaches pretty. Just dump it into the bottom of the jar. (Some people use lemon juice)

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Ascorbic acid is powdered vitamin C. I get mine at a health food store.

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Fill the jar with sliced peaches. Then, use a funnel to pour your honey/water into the jar, to about a half inch from the top. Place a sterilized lid and ring onto the full jar.

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Now it’s time to give your full jars a hot water bath to seal the lids.  Put your full jars into the water. Once the water is boiling,  boil the jars for about 25 minutes. (And yes, this is actually a picture of applesauce jars boiling…I forgot to take a picture of the peaches boiling and I’m too tired to go can more peaches just so that I can go take a picture of the jars boiling.)

Oh, and boil your jars with the lid on the water bath pot…I just took off the lid for the picture. :)

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After the jars have boiled for 25 minutes, take them out with tongs…or better yet, this cool gripping tool made especially for jars and hot water baths.  Then you get to listen for the caps to seal. I can’t think of a way to blog the way it sounds…but after all your hard work, it sure is a cool sound to hear them seal! (Thhhhp!) (Or something like that!)  You can be sure they sealed if you can push down on the top and it is down firm. It takes anywhere from 1 second to 30 minutes for the lid to seal after you’ve taken it out of the water. 

Then, just leave your canned peaches out on the counter for a few hours or several days so that you can admire them and smile and feel happy every time you walk into the kitchen and see them. (Okay, that’s what I like to do anyway.)  (Because I’m weird like that.)