Sour face

I love me some sour face.  Especially when it comes to pickles.

I’ve been in love with homemade dill pickles since childhood (and in love with pickles, in general, as long as my family’s memory holds out — my grandma tells a wicked story of the time she broke my heart at the tender age of 2 by stealing the pickles off my McDonald’s cheeseburger.  Good thing I don’t hold a grudge…)

My husband and I met over pickles.  So to speak.  I’ve been canning myself since, oh, age 22 or so?  I’ll write more about canning as it happens, but a former colleague pinged me today asking about pickles, and I thought it might be wise to preserve my response here:

Q: Is pickle-making hard?  Does it take a lot of special equipment?

A: It’s not hard at all; just takes some patience and a little precision.  And not a ton of equipment — just a huge soup pot (that holds a couple gallons of water plus room to submerge your jars at least 1 inch underwater).

I’d also recommend a jar funnel, which runs about 2 bucks at any hardware store, and a jar lifter, that runs about 5-7 bucks, same place.

You’d obviously also need to get jars, rings and lids… once you buy the jars and rings you can use them over and over, but you have to buy new lids that seal every year.  Not a huge expense after the first year.  Or alternately, you can hit up an estate sale or Goodwill; they always have tons of secondhand jars.

I think Alton Brown does a good tutorial: (this one’s for jam, but readily applicable to pickles).  come to think of it — I bet he has a pickle episode, too!

If you want to read about it, Ball has a book called Home Preservation that’s super.

And, lastly: The National Center for Home Food Preservation, which is a trove of information (if you don’t mind sifting through government publications in your spare time…)


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