Guest Post: Basic Guide to Canning Dill Pickles

My dad’s cooking is delicious.  I’ve already posted “Dad’s Badass Chili” and the pesto was his original creation.  I’m sure there will be more.  Anyway, he has taken up a new hobby of pickling everything and anything in his sight (his salsa is insane).  I’ve asked him to guest post for me with a how-to guide to canning.  Here is his dill pickle masterpiece:

Canning Hints for Making Dill Pickles –

-In advance of your pickling day, buy and wash plenty of quart size canning jars, rings and new lids.  You can’t re-use lids!  Have on hand your large boiling kettle, a kettle for preparing brine, a quart-sized pan for heating lids in near-boiling water, and a canning tool for grabbing hot jars in the boiling water bath.  In addition, I use a magnetic extension tool for retrieving lids from hot water (available at hardware stores).

-Purchase pickling spices and supplies in advance.  See spice options below.

-Wake up early on a Saturday morning in late July or early August (in Minnesota, anyway).  Stop by your local coffee shop for a cup of your favorite dark roast then head to the nearest Farmers’ Market.

-Wander the rows of vegetable displays and scope out the best – freshest – cleanest pickling cucumbers.  Buy ½ bushel of pickling cucumbers or however many you feel ready to can.  I prefer small sizes (2” – 3” long…about like your index finger).  Process soon – while fresh.

-In your kitchen sink, rinse the cucumbers multiple times until water runs clear.  Get your hands in there and stir them up – they hold a lot of dirt.  A good friend actually tumbles hers in the washing machine in a pillow case.

-Cut off any stems.  Sort to maintain quality.

-Pack baby cucumbers in ice for at least 4 hours.  I suggest simply holding them in an ice water bath in the kitchen sink while you prepare the canning materials.

Pickle Ice Bath p.s. I totally love how my parents wash and reuse Ziplock baggies. Can you find the drying baggie? haha -Mads

The Pickling Process –

-Begin a boiling water bath in your largest canning kettle (to sterilize empty jars and then to boil filled jars for last step of the canning process);

Sterilizing cans in boiling water

-Prepare a brine solution in another large kettle (make more or less depending on amount of cucumbers purchased – sufficient to fill all jars):

  • 16 cups water
  • 8 cups white vinegar (I’ve used apple cider vinegar before with successful results)
  • 1 cup pickling salt
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

-Bring the brine to a boil until salt and sugar are completely dissolved.

-In the bottom of each of the sterilized jars, place 1) sprig of fresh dill, 2) wedge of white onion, and 3) 2 cloves of fresh garlic.

-Add combinations of pickling spices to the jars – depending on your preference.  I usually add mustard seed, 5 or 6 whole cloves, and allspice (they’re dominant flavors – make sure to judge accordingly).

-Pack the cucumbers as tightly as possible with various sizes (they float once the brine is added), and add another sprig of dill, onion wedge and garlic clove midway during packing.

Packing pickles

-Pour brine into the jars to above the “shoulder” – about ¼ – ½ inch from top.

-Heat lids for a couple of minutes in steeping water in quart-sized pan to activate the rubber seal material.

-Seal jars with lids and rings.  Make sure jar lips are clean and free from ingredients.  Continue with the rest of the jars and pickles.

-Making sure boiling water bath continues at a rolling boil, grasp top of each jar with your canning tool and insert into bath for 4 minutes.  I usually boil 5 jars at a time so that you can maintain temperature.  Boiling water must cover the jars.

-Remove jars from bath with canning tool and let cool on counter top.  As they cool, the lids should “pop” as ingredients contract.  If you can push the lids down after cooling, they probably haven’t sealed properly and you need to re-do the bath with a new lid.  Clean rims of the jars…

-Store in a dark, cool place for at least two months. Chill and eat!

Wait 2 months before eating

Homemade Pickling Spices –

Bunches o' Dill

2 large bunches of fresh dill (purchase at Farmers’ Market or produce department of grocery store)

1 jar mustard seed (3 oz.)

1 jar whole allspice (3 oz.)

Dried red pepper flakes

1 jar coriander seeds (3 oz.)

1 jar whole cloves (3 oz.)

2 jars cinnamon sticks (2 inches – add a stick to each jar)

Have you ever pickled before?

What is your absolute favorite canned treat?

Guest Post: A Furry Foodie

This post is brought to you by my big brother, Jason.  He’s not a blogger, nor do I think he reads my blog.  However, he shoots me ideas for posts every now and then.  When he gave me the idea for a furry foodie, I knew that I needed him as a guest-poster.  Enjoy!


Last Thursday evening, I had the opportunity to partake in a bold and unique delicacy completely new to my palate.  As is typical with my finer banquets, it began with me hearing the pantry door open upstairs.  My ears picked up a crackle and crunch; a sound signifying guaranteed freshness (until the printed date).  The plastic bag exploded open and the air seemed to be filled with a bold scent.

It took all of my patience as I waited for my turn to taste this spicy treat.  The drool in the corners of my mouth built with the anticipation of my first taste.  The spittle hung from my mouth like shoelaces as I watched the amber and mahogany bag intently.  The remainder of the contents in the bag, which was now near empty, was mine.

A flick of the wrist and a golden flash in the air was all it took for me to launch myself skyward.  A flavorful powder, covering a small curled chip, hit my tongue like a shockwave.  Chili!  Cheese!  I have licked the bottom of a chili bowl from time to time.  Often, I will take medicine enveloped in a piece of Swiss or sharp cheddar.  But the combination – in the form of a bite-sized snack – was truly breathtaking; literally (my muscles tensed, my neck jutted out, and I began to froth, snort, and convulse). Together these powerful flavors coated the corn chip just as a hump-blanket covers one at night.  When my wheezing stopped, I awaited for my second helping to be thrown into the air.  Unfortunately, in my spasm, the bag was crumpled and tossed into the garbage bin.  Apparently to sniff the inside of the bag and lick the last flecks of flavor would be a vulgar sign of disrespect to the preparer of such a fine dish.

Before the door of the pantry closed, I noticed several other similarly-sized bags that were kept within: a black one with a handful of flat orange chips and a blue one with a triangle-shaped chip.  More blog entries to come!  In the meantime, I won’t tire of chicken liver flavoring lightly dusted over chicken by-product meal.



I’m still here

Hi team,

I realize how cryptic my last post and then seeming disappearance from the internets must have been.  In all honesty, my dad got real sick real fast and then did a 180 and felt real healthy.  It scared the crap out of me.  Plus, work was crazy and the apartment was falling into a state of abandonment.

I needed a break.

I hope that’s ok.

Since my last post, a lot has happened.

The prince got married, Osama got killed, and earthquakes tore countries apart.  I hope everyone you know is safe and healthy right now.  Jonathan’s family living in Japan is perfectly fine…in case you knew his family was in Japan, which you most likely didn’t.  Especially because he is Chinese, which seems confusing.


I quit my job, I got accepted into graduate school, Josie got fat, and we all sang karaoke.

So, hey, I’m still here!  I will be posting on a regular basis again.  Thanks for letting me have my little hiatus.  And thank you so much to the blogger friends who have still been checking my site for posts and sending me quick messages.  I am so lucky to have awesome readers like you!



The 10 minutes when my soul was sucked out

Let me just run you through the constant hell that is my drive home from work:

(this conversation takes place with my bluetooth headset)

Me: Call mom.

Bluetooth: Reading contact details of mom.

Me: Call mom.

Bluetooth:  Text message mom.

Me: Call mom.

Bluetooth:  Command not recognized.

Me: Call mom.

Bluetooth:  Command not available with flip closed.

Me: Call mom.

Bluetooth:  Reading contact details of…


Bluetooth: Reading contact…


Bluetooth: Reading…


Bluetooth: Calling mom.

Mom: Sorry I can’t talk right now.  Bye!

Life is horrible.


Extended family is the best!

My cousin’s baby is the cutest baby I have ever seen.  Not only is he cute, but his personality makes him like a million times cuter.  He is always happy, smiling, and ready to play.

I love him.

My cousin stole my baby name, Charlie, but I am going to let it slide because he is so darn adorable.

Yes, this is me (with a few glasses of wine), dancing with Charlie in the dark, while wearing sunglasses. Go figure.

Aaaaand I just found out he’s going to have a baby SISTER!!!

World, in the words of Samuel L. Jackson in Jurassic Park, “Hold onto your butts.”