Making Pickles: Dill Spears, Bread and Butters and Dilly Beans Recipes

Small-batch canning has become a popular trend. What better way to preserve summer harvests than by making pickles?

| August 2, 2012

Relish summer harvests by making pickles and enjoying them throughout the fall and winter. Savor a crisp dill spear with a sandwich or top a hamburger with delicious bread and butters. With The Pickled Pantry (Storey Publishing, 2012) by Andrea Chesman, you’ll love making these and dozens of other fresh, contemporary recipes for pickling everything from apples to zucchini. These recipes are excerpted from Chapter 3, “Single Jar Pickles.” 

When I started making pickles, I was often frustrated by recipes that required making pickles in big batches, usually seven jars at a time, a canner load. If it was my first time working with a recipe, how would I know whether I’d like the end product enough to eat my way through seven jars? Working in large batches took effort, especially in the heat of summer. And if I only had enough produce for, say, five jars, the math was excruciating.

Then I had an idea: Why not figure out how to make pickles a single jar at a time? Initially, my goal was to introduce more variety to my pickle shelf and make the math simpler, but as I undertook the project, more and more advantages came to light.

By working in small quantities, I could take advantage of the limited amount of surplus my garden produced, while the vegetables were still at their peak. No waiting around until the refrigerator filled with cucumbers or beans. I could make pickles whenever I had an extra quart of fresh vegetables kicking around. When I had a little of this and a little of that, I could make a jar of mixed pickles, turning odds and ends into very delicious and showy pickles.

Experimenting with new recipes and new ideas became very easy with small batches. If it turned out I didn’t really like a particular recipe, there were no extra jars of an unpopular pickle. And when I chose to work with a large quantity, I just multiplied the recipe — the math was easy! Thus, my second book, Summer in a Jar, was born.

That book is now out of print. But small-batch pickle making remains popular with many. I was a little ahead of the curve when I wrote Summer in a Jar; since then small-batch canning has become the rule rather than the exception. It’s just one more trend in pickle making that has made our preserving efforts different from the way our ancestors used to approach the task.

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