Preserving The Harvest: Easier Dill Pickles

by Texas Homesteader ~

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Recently I was given a handful of cucumbers from the veggie garden of a sweet friend.  RancherMan won’t eat cucumbers any way but pickled, and a girl can only eat so many raw cucumbers.  Instead I set out to preserve them.

I use dill pickles often in deviled eggs, making pickle relish and in other dishes but especially in  my homemade ham salad, So the decision as to what to do with these cucumbers was easy for me – DILL PICKLES!

We love dill pickles but I've never been happy making my own brine. I've found the secret weapon - a SUPER EASY brine. Check it out. #TexasHomesteader

My Secret For Making Great Dill Pickles!

Now I’ve made pickles before completely from scratch but I’ve never been pleased with the results.  The pickles were often soft even when using special pickling cucumber varieties, adding addition, etc and the brine (no matter what the recipe I used) was always too strong for me.

But one day I happened to be visiting a family member who had grown & pickled some of the cucumbers from his garden.  He offered a taste of his finished pickles and I loved them!  I asked what his secret was and he whispered “Mrs. Wages”.

I had never even heard of Mrs. Wages so he described the package to me and I went looking for it.  (by the way I found that you can get various flavors of * Mrs Wages Pickling Mix from Amazon)  I gave the Mrs. Wages dill pickle mix a try on our own cucumbers – finally, SUCCESS!  That’s the only way I’ll make pickles anymore.

We love dill pickles but I've never been happy making my own brine. I've found the secret weapon - a SUPER EASY brine. Check it out. #TexasHomesteader

Preparing The Cucumbers

So now that I have a supply of cucumbers to pickle I washed & dried the cucumbers and cut about 1/4″ off each end. (supposedly if you don’t cut off the bloom end it can lead to soft pickles.)

I didn’t know what variety of cucumbers these were since they were gifts, they may or may not have been pickling cucumbers. Some of them were harvested a bit large for pickling. You usually want to pick the cucumbers when they’re still slender and the skin is dark green & bumpy.  After the cucumbers have grown larger they usually have already formed larger seeds inside. Ad sometimes the cucumber will taste a little bitter or the skin will be tough.

But for those larger cucumbers I figured I had nothing to lose.  So I tasted a slice off of them to make sure they were not bitter.  It was easy to peel them if the skins were tough, and cut the seed section off of each cucumber spear that had seeds formed.

I washed & dried my jars and heated water for my canning lids.  The flat disk of the 2-part canning lid was placed into the hot water to soften the rubber seal & then I went to work on the preparations.  The cucumbers were all cut up with some with the seed section cut out, some peeled, some just sliced into spears.

Using Mrs. Wages

Then I mixed up the Mrs. Wages mix per the package directions and got the mixture boiling, stirring constantly.  I poured the hot mix into the packed jars leaving about 1/2″ from the top of the jar.  A rubber spatula was used to remove any trapped air bubbles between the cucumbers.

I wiped the rim of each jar, screwed on the 2-part canning lid and turned the hot jars upside down.  I don’t like to process my pickles using a water-bath canner, as I’m concerned that may be one of the reasons my pickles were always soft.  This procedure typically seals the lid fine overnight, then I can store them in the fridge.

Canning Safety Message:

I MUST say here that I’m not recommending that you skip the canning process, I’m  just showing what I did with these cucumbers.  I figure back in ‘the day’ they made pickles by soaking raw cucumbers in brine in big crocks in the cellar, so it must be the brine itself that preserves the cucumbers.  This time I decided not to put my cucumbers through the water-bath canning process.  BUT you’ll need to read the USDA’s recommendations on safe canning and decide for yourself.

Anyway I let the dill pickles sit in the brine for about 3 weeks to allow the pickling process to continue.  The dill pickles were delicious!  Although since they apparently weren’t pickling cucumbers they were still softer than we like for snacking. But they are great chopped into sandwich spreads like our homemade Egg Salad or even deviled eggs.

UPDATE:  I planted heirloom pickler cucumbers and use them with Mrs. Wages mix to make pickles and they always turn out GREAT!  I read that including a leaf from a grapevine right inside your jar will help keep the pickles crisp.  Now I don’t know if it’s an old wives’ tale or not, but my pickles are always crisp now!

~TxH~

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36 thoughts on “Preserving The Harvest: Easier Dill Pickles

  1. Katy SkipTheBag

    My whole goal for planing cucumber is to be able to make pickles. Sadly I don’t think my cukes are going to make it (dang caterpillars!). I really want to ferment them, but if that doesn’t work out I’ll be sure to check this out! It’s always good to have a back up method. Thanks for sharing on the Waste Less Wednesday Hop!

    Reply
  2. Alicia Owen

    I think that’s what my husband used to make his pickles too. It’s our first year and we haven’t tried them yet. Actually, I won’t be trying them at all because I hate pickles, but I hope they turned out for him! ha ha

    Reply
  3. Grandmas House DIY

    I’m definitely going to have to try this! The Wednesday “To Grandma’s House We Go” link party just started over at grandmashousediy.com and I thought you might be interested in joining it, thanks!

    Reply
  4. Lisa M

    My pickles never turn out how I’d like them to! I’m definitely trying this!

    You post was featured at Green Thumb Thursday this week. Stop by and grab a featured badge for your blog! I hope to see you again this week!

    Lisa

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Awesome Lisa – thanks for the feature! I’ve been pretty pleased at the pickles I’ve been able to put up using this method, although I’m also experimenting with refrigerator pickles and I really like that too.

      Reply
  5. Chele

    You can also find Mrs Wages canning products at most Walmarts too. I love their seasoning for dill pickles. But I also came to the same conclusion that the hot water bath was quickly turning them to mush. So, now I just jar them up and put them in the fridge. I haven’t tried your flipped jars for pickles. I do that method with my jams/jellies, so I’ll definitely try it with the pickles next summer. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve seen them at some WalMart stores Chele, seems it’s hit & miss whether or not they carry it in our area. I’ve stocked up, I hope to have some fall cucumbers to make pickles with this year.

      Reply
  6. Jamie | anderson + grant

    These look so good. I’m going to have to file this one away for next summer. I had a friend who “donated” cucumbers to me over the summer and like you, there are only so many raw ones I can eat. He thought I needed them to be healthy. Love the thought, but I thought I was already healthy! In case you need another way to use up your cucumbers, I ended up making sauteed cucumbers. (http://www.andersonandgrant.com/2014/08/sauteed-cucumbers.html)

    Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe with us this week at Your Turn to Shine!

    Reply
  7. Kara @ Home With Purpose

    We love homemade dill pickles here and put up as many as we can every year! We don’t do the water bath canning, we ferment them the old-fashioned way, and our secret for making them crunchy is to put a few oak, blackberry, or grape leaves in each jar. The tannins in the leaves make the pickles crisp and crunchy! Thanks for linking up at Simple Lives Thursday!

    Reply
  8. Kimberly

    Hello gorgeous! What an amazing recipe. Oh Yum! I love easy! Pinned. We hope to see you at our party tonight at 7 pm. It is so fun to party with you! http://loulougirls.blogspot.com/
    Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

    Reply
  9. CTY

    I have not tried the Mrs Wages Dill mix because I make refrigerator pickles that taste just like Claussen (if you know that brand). I have however, used Mrs Wages Bread & Butter Pickle mix & it is perfect for sandwiches. When I had an uber harvest of zucchinis I turned them into b & b pickles–they came out fabulously.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Ummmm…. zucchini pickles. I love when you can make a great product out of garden overage like that. D’ya think you could make them into dill pickles as well? Do they taste similar when pickled as cucumbers? Inquiring minds want to know. ~TMR~

      Reply
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  13. Susan Kay Fidler

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Fidlin’ Fridays a few weeks ago! We are back up and running after having our baby and would love to see you again! Linking party for the week is live http://www.fidlersunderoneroof.com/2013/11/fidlin-fridays.html

    Reply
  14. Madge @ The View From Right Here

    LOVE homemade pickles… I haven’t made any in years… I used to put by much of summer/fall harvest, but then began working again 15 years ago and it all fell by the wayside… I just retired and am looking forward to doing all of these things again… sewing, baking, canning… oh yes, and cleaning the deep way… thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply

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