The Secret to Good Pickles

The Secret to Good Pickles

By Beth Kramer – A wise homemaker clued me in to the success of pickles — your water source. The minerals in water can interfere with the pickling action of the vinegar. Find someone whose pickles you like and ask them where they get their water. An alternative would be the reverse osmosis water dispenser found in grocery stores.

Dill Pickle Recipe 

Makes 6 quarts

Place clean dill head and garlic clove in a jar and fill with clean, freshly picked cucumbers.

Brine: 8 cups water

1-1/2 cups vinegar

½ cup pickling salt.

Bring brine to a boil and stir. Pour hot over cucumbers.

Seal jar with clean lid warmed in water and a ring. Submerge in a kettle of warm water until cucumbers lose bright green color —about 10 minutes. I keep the heat high under the kettle of water and check the color frequently to avoid overheating that causes mushy pickles. Store in refrigerator.

These recipes will be a nice alternative to the high fructose corn syrup taste of relish and ketchup found in the grocery store.

Cucumber Relish

Makes 10 pints

24 cups finely chopped vegetables: cucumbers, sweet green or red peppers, carrots, onions

2 tablespoons canning salt

Combine with vegetables. Let stand 3 hours, drain.

Bring to a boil:

1 quart vinegar

7 cups white or brown sugar

4 teaspoons mustard seed

4 teaspoons celery seed

Add vegetables and simmer 20 minutes. Pack into hot jars. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.



Makes 5 pints

Chop in blender with water:

12 medium cucumbers, seeded

6 small onions

1 bunch celery

Green pepper, optional

Strain juice to use in next batch. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons canning salt. Let stand 1 hour, drain.


2 cups cider vinegar

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon mustard seed

¼ teaspoon turmeric

Combine and add vegetables. Boil 5 minutes. Pack in hot jars, seal and process 10minutes in boiling water bath.


Tomato Catsup

Makes 5 half pints

Place in cheesecloth bag and add to vinegar:

1 stick cinnamon, broken

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1 teaspoon celery seed

½ – 1 cup vinegar

Bring to boil and remove from heat. Let stand.

Simmer until soft, then press through sieve or food mill:

8 lbs. tomatoes (about 4 quarts, quartered)

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon paprika or ¼ teaspoon cayenne

1 cup sugar — add to tomato pulp. Bring to a boil; simmer until reduced by half.

1 tablespoon canning salt — add with vinegar to tomato mixture. Simmer until desired consistency, about 30 minutes.


May freeze or pour into hot jars, seal, and process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

Note: I use a steamer to soften my tomatoes, eliminating much of the simmering to reduce the liquid content. Sucanat is a healthy substitute for ½ of the sugar in this recipe.

Originally published in 2011 and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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