Great-grandma’s pickles

Yay! Pickle-making weekend has finally arrived. And just in time, as I was out of pickles.

My folks arrived Friday night with freshly-picked cucumbers from Imperial’s Garden outside of Wapato. They also brought with them my 13- and 11-year-old nephews. (A couple of hours later, the kids’ mom arrived with beer for me from her man, who knows I like good beer. That deserves an extra yay*!)

On Saturday, my 11-year-old nephew and I woke up early to go for a morning run through the wheat fields as part of our training for our 10k race that takes place on 10-10-10. We’d expected to come home to the smells of breakfast cooking, but the rest of the house was still sleeping! When they (finally) woke, we had a big breakfast to fuel us for a long day of pickle production.

My family’s dill pickles are the best! We use my (maternal) great-grandma’s recipe – with a couple of minor tweaks because of modern-day USDA guidelines. Despite the government’s intrusion**, they’re fantastic pickles!

My 13-year-old nephew and my foster daughter helped a bit with sorting cucumbers in the beginning, but spent most of the day hiding in the kid’s room playing. My other nephew, however, spent the entire day helping make pickles with an amazing amount of enthusiasm! To reward him for his hard work, he will get to taste the first pickle when they’re ready. To remind the other two that today was a team effort, they did all the dishes whilst the rest of us relaxed in the living room. (This reminder didn’t sit well with the dish-doers!)

I know you wish you were here with us for this exciting pickle-making weekend, so I come bearing fun things for you! Yes! A video, a recipe, and a photo gallery!

Mom’s Dill Pickles

(But really, they’re my great-grandma’s)

Put 1-quart cider vinegar, 1-quart water, and ½ cup pickling salt together in a non-reactive**** saucepan and boil for a few minutes. Then pour the mixture over small cucumbers which are packed tightly into jars along with garlic, peppers, and fresh dill. (Ratios to your taste.) Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Want to try one of the totally awesome pickles that I made? Well, unless you’re a close friend or family member with plans to visit me in the next wee while, you probably can’t. Sorry about that!

* I haven’t decided if the extra yay was for the beer or my sister’s arrival.
** We are not bound by these guidelines, but if we want to enter things in the county fair, they must be made to USDA standards. Oh, and it’s meant to be safer.
*** Ratios of water/vinegar have been changed from the original to be in line with what we made. Dad also points out that some of the reasoning for this is that ‘in the olden days’ vinegar was more acidic than it is today.
**** Non-reactive saucepans are stainless steel, chip-free enamelware pan, or glass pans.

7 Replies to “Great-grandma’s pickles”

  1. still sounds way too technical for me to attempt, even though i have about seven years experience bench work in a medical lab under my belt (nope, can’t square that one either).
    sounds delicious btw (do they travel well, she asked innocently?)

  2. What does process in a water bath mean??
    I’m with Mrs Ebb on this one, sounds way too technical for me. I think I’ll just buy my pickles, or alternatively raid Mum’s cupboards next time I’m home – altho she doesn’t do pickled gherkins sadly!

    1. Water bath processing is a way of ‘cooking’ foods you’re canning – the other method is a pressure cooker. Water bath is used for jams and jellies as well as pickles and fruits.
      Basically, you lower the jars into a big pot of boiling water for however long they need to process then remove them to cool.

  3. OMG, I’ve just watched the video. Fabulous!! Round of applause to the camera operator too.
    And I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the pickle orientation comment! who would have thought it of you 😉
    You really must have a regular Just Frances YouTube show, you’re a natural.

    1. Ah, blush…
      This was a one-take video so I am very pleased with how it turned out. I should really use a script or something though so that there is less ‘blah blah blah’ but then you’d miss my ad-lib comments about my obsessive compulsive nature!
      I have had a lot of people say that they enjoy the videos – I don’t know if it’s because they really like them or because they really like laughing at me. I’m going to try to do them every-so-often, but don’t want to commit myself to a schedule because I don’t want to put something up ‘just to put something up’ – if you know what I mean.
      I do have my own YouTube channel (, but at the moment Schrodie is more the star. That may change…

      * Edited to add that my Dad was the camera man on this one. Way better than the self-recorded webcam ones, huh?

  4. In response to your points:
    1) I would be worried if a video of a cute girl (that’s me) couldn’t distract you from the not-so-cute (but very good in Our Friends in the North) Daniel Craig.
    2) This was a demonstration on packing the jars, not the complete process. My 11-year-old nephew can attest to the number of times I enforced proper hand-washing techniques.
    3) If you’ll look carefully, you can see the steam rising from the sink throughout the video. After they were washed with hot, soapy water, the jars were placed in the sink where boiling water was poured over them. Other than the video, gloves were worn to remove the jars to prevent scalding burns.
    4) I can almost give you brine, though would argue that in the evolution of the English language (at least in American English, which is an officially-noted dialect) the term brine for the pickling process can include vinegar. Language is, after all, merely a theoretical thing. And I’m sure that the ever-ingenious Scots would have found a way to invent salt-n-sauce regardless.
    5) The cloth was a clean, food-grade cloth. And should there have been any contamination the act of processing the jars in a boiling water bath would have sorted that out.
    All of the above should demonstrate that I am stubborn and always must be right.

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