In a real pickle

Homemade Grape Leaf Pickles

Who doesn’t like a pickle? Ok, well, I’m sure there are some who don’t, but that’s OK, more for us!

Summertime is in full swing and my cucumber vines are producing like crazy. I’m pretty excited about it because I love to can pickles.

This year I am growing a regular green pickling cucumber as well as a white cucumber. Both of these varieties look great in jars.

My biggest problem is making sure to check the vines thoroughly every day, otherwise I end up with a cucumber the size of a zucchini and too large to can. I have had quite a few that were almost too big, but I hated to waste them so I sliced them into spears to can.

So far this year I have made several different kinds of pickles and at the rate my vines are producing, I’ll probably make a few more kinds before summer is over. I have made a few batches of a spicy dill pickle, grape leaf pickles and I tried a Sriracha pickle as well.

I prefer salty, sour and spicy pickles. I’m not a sweet pickle fan, but my Dad does like bread and butter pickles so I will probably make a batch of those for him. The spicy dill pickle is really simple to make and the recipe is actual for a small batch so it’s great if you just have a few cucumbers from your own garden or the local farmers market. You can always increase the recipe to make a larger batch.

This year I’m also attempting to make some pickles the really old fashioned way — in a stone crock. My Mamma bought this crock at an auction a number of years ago and it has been sitting in our basement every since. Last year, at my friend’s suggestion, I made a jar of fermented pickles. They were very different, but delicious and fermented foods are supposed to be very good for you. I’m hoping my pickles fermented in the crock will turnout well.

Grape leaf pickles are my personal favorite, but that wasn’t always the case. I remember as a child we always canned green beans, tomatoes, stuffed peppers and pickles every summer. We normally just made dill pickles or sweet pickles, but one year Mamma wanted to make grape leaf pickles. Everything my Mamma ever cooked or prepared was normally delicious, but something didn’t go well with the pickles and they were terrible. It was a family joke for a long time. A few years after that, I tried some grape leaf pickles that my cousin had made and they were delicious. Now they are one of my favorites.

I couldn’t find a recipe online that I liked for the grape leaf pickles so I dug out all of our cookbooks from area churches to find one. The recipe is super simple. Put two grape leafs and a few grapes in jar then pack with cucumbers (I did some jars of whole and some sliced.) Make a brine with 10 cups water, 2 cups vinegar and 1 cup pickling salt. Heat to near boiling. Pour hot brine over pickles in jars Gentle shake jars to remove air bubbles. Top with heated lids (bring lids to boil in a small pan of hot water) and then add rim to jar. Put jars in a near boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Carefully remove jars from water (you can buy a special tool to lift jars out with) and place on a rack to cool. You will hear the lids make a popping noise when they seal. I would let the pickles pickle for at least three to four months before eating.

Grape leaf pickles do tend to be on the salty side and not everyone likes them. My dad and fiancé

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles

both dislike them, but my great Uncle Ken and I love them so I made a special batch this year. I was particularly proud of the labels I made for my jars. I found a picture of my Mamma and me when we were canning pickles a few years ago and printed that out to use as the label for the jars.

Speaking of labels, if you like to can and give your canned goods away as gifts, there are tons of free label templates you can find online to make your canned gifts look really nice. Add ribbons or other extras to make them even more special. Most people realize the time and effort it takes to can and it’s not something a lot of people do anymore so most will consider a home canned gift a very special treat.

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