Gram Ettlin’s Dill Pickles
Gramma Ettlin really wasn’t my grandma, but we all called her Gram Ettlin. She wasn’t a round, roly-poly, pink-cheeked type–in fact she was tiny and wiry and had the energy of ten men.
And she could cook.
And I was smart enough to get her dill pickle recipe and have her write it out on a recipe card for me. It makes me smile every time I get it out.
But first I had to find some pickling cukes since I don’t have a garden.
A trip out to the farmstands along Hwy 24 just north east of Kansas City, Missouri (it’s The Old Santa Fe Trail and lots of fun to visit farm stands, wineries and orchards) and I had my pickling cukes.
And I have my super neat Ball FreshTech electric canner! I was so happy to find this last year.
Then it’s all about the prep. Washing the jars, lids and rings (and appreciating yet again the large sink I put in during the kitchen remodel two years ago).
Taking the vegetable brush to the cukes and washing those.
The brine was starting to simmer, and I got all the spices, and garlic, and bay leaves, and dill ready.
Some of the jars ready to go into the canner:
I ended up with 12 quarts. 1 per month. I hope it will be enough.
Here’s the recipe:
1 Cup pickling salt
3 Cups cider vinegar
13 Cups water
This makes enough brine for 7 quarts – the number of quarts that fit into a standard canner, conveniently enough. Bring to a boil, stirring until the salt is completely dissolved. Keep over medium heat while preparing the jars.
Per quart jar:
Bay leaf – about 1/3 to 1/2 piece of bay leaf
1 whole clove
1 very small red pepper or 1/2 large one (I’ve used cayenne, and I’ve used birds-eye. I like mine spicy so tend towards larger pieces)
1 tsp pickling spice
1 tsp mustard seed
1 clove garlic
2 heads dill
This isn’t from Gram Ettlin, but I like to put a grape leaf in the jar if I have them. It helps keep them crisp. If I don’t have grape leaves, I will use the Ball pickle crisp (not alum).
Packing the jars:
Into hot, sterilized jars place the spices etc, along with one of the dill heads. Pack tightly with the cukes. Usually I add the second dill head after the first layer of whole dills are in the jar. Fill free to quarter or place chunks in the jar to fill the space. But don’t pack them too high.
Pour hot brine over the cukes, wipe the jar rim and threads with a wet cloth, top with the hot lid and rings and hand tighten.
I follow the instructions in the Ball books, and water bath process the jars 15 minutes at a full boil.
When to eat
Per Gram Ettlin “PIckles Best not to use till well aged” and “Best to age 6 mos. or longer 1 yr. I do. Makes them mellow.”
You can of course eat them whenever you want.
Please note that I haven’t listed all the details about canning in this recipe–sterilizing the jars, keeping the lids hot, getting the air bubbles out, cooling etc. I figure the best resource for that is the professionals, like Ball.