In Search of Dill Heads

dill_headsDave writes in:

Where can you easily find Dill heads for use in making dill pickles. I cannot find them when I need them.

So, some of you might be wondering what a Dill head is. It’s the flowering part from the top of the dill plant.  Let it dry out on the plant and you’ll have dill seed.

 

Dill heads can be found in some grocery stores a little later in the season or at farmers’ markets.  Many folks grow their own to make sure they have a supply for the season.

Hope this helps.

Shirley

Pickle Problems? Shirley Has Answers.

CucumbersI get great questions about canning and, specifically, about pickles.  Susie wrote in the other day:

I process about 90lbs of dill pickles each summer.  I discovered Mrs Wages pickle mix a few years ago and love it!  I’ve tried several of the Wages mixes.
One in particular I’d like help with is the pickled mixed veggies.  I’ve tried twice and both times the carrots and cauliflower turn out so mushy!  I want them crisp like when you buy them in the store.  What am I doing wrong?
Also, when I have extra dill pickle brine, I put up several pints of dill carrot sticks. They are so yummy!!!
I look forward to hearing from you!
Susie

Here’s what I sent back to her via email: Continue reading

Pickled Okra from Food In Jars

Our friend, Marisa McClellan (who writes the Food In Jars blog) shared this recipe via the Mrs. Wages Newsletter earlier this month (click here to subscribe).

According to Marisa:

During my early canning days, I spent a week in Austin, Texas. It was there that I had the chance to try the most delectable fried okra I’d ever encountered. It transformed my opinion of this sometimes texturally-challenging vegetable and sent me running to the kitchen to try it as a pickle. It was transcendentally good. Pickling manages to eradicate the interior slime and just leaves you with a crunchy, brine-filled pickle. It’s a dream eaten alongside a plate of spicy food. 

Makes 4 pints

Ingredients

2 lbs okra, washed and trimmed
3 cups apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp pickling salt
1/4 cup mixed pickling spices (1 tablespoon per jar)
4 slices lemon (1 per jar)
4 peeled garlic cloves (1 per jar)

Directions

  1. Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 regular mouth pint jars. Place lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
  2. Combine vinegar, 3 cups water, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Put a slice of lemon and a tablespoon of pickling spice into the bottom of each sterilized jar. Then pack the okra in, first laying them in so that the points are up. Then insert another layer with the points down, so that they interlock. Poke a clove of garlic in among the okra.
  4. Slowly pour the hot brine over the okra leaving 1/2 inch headspace. After all the jars are full, use a wooden chopstick to work the air bubbles out of the jars. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.
  5. Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes).
  6. Let these pickles cure for at least a week before eating.

Note: You’ll note that this recipe calls for you to make more brine than many of the other similarly scaled recipes. Because okra pods are hollow, they will absorb a great deal of the brine. When you’ve finished filling and bubbling all the jars, they will invariably require topping off. What’s more, the brine level will drop radically after you remove the jars from the canner: do not be alarmed. It has simply migrated inside the okra pods. There is no need to remove the lids to top off the liquid; as long as the seal is good, they are safe to store and eat.

 

In Search of Better, Crunchier Pickles

New Pickle Product Review: Mrs. Wages® Xtra Crunch™
By Master Canner Shirley Camp, MS, LD, LDN Retired

mrs-wages-xtra-crunch-4When making pickles at home, most of us want crunchy pickles just like those in the store. Because of the high water content of cucumbers, when heated in brine, the crunchiness may be lost. Mrs. Wages® has just added a new product to their line of canning products, Mrs. Wages® Xtra Crunch™, that will put some of the crunch back into your pickles!

Continue reading

Pickling Questions with Extra Crunch

I’ve received a few really good pickle questions over the past week.  Here are two:

From Susie:

I process about 90lbs of dill pickles each summer.  I discovered Mrs Wages pickle mix a few years ago and love it!  I’ve tried several of the Wages mixes.  One in particular I’d like help with is the pickled mixed veggies.  I’ve tried twice and both times the carrots and cauliflower turn out so mushy!  I want them crisp like when you buy them in the store.  What am I doing wrong?
Also, when I have extra dill pickle brine, I put up several pints of dill carrot sticks. They are so yummy!!!

And another from Pam:

Is it ok to ad the white powder (can’t think of the name) that makes pickles stay crunchy to a store bought mix?

Both good questions that deserve answers: Continue reading