Canned pickles and Coyotes

A friend of mine who can wrangle any horse, kick rattlesnakes toothless and train a wild coyote to howl cowboy ballads at Arizona’s desert moon, called me one day in a dilemma.

“I need to ask a question!, What the heck is the difference between pickling salts in a box and pickling salts in a sack? This recipe says not to use the one but the other! I am trying to can pickles and I don’t understand any of the terminology they are using. I’m not a gall dern cook! (Actually, there was a bunch of swear words said but gall dern it will have to do for now.)

I said I had never heard of a ‘sack’ of salts before but wondered out loud if they are like the small sacks of spices I use in my chili recipe.

I advised that making pickled eggs is a whole lot easier and I have a super tasty recipe that is easy enough for any beginner to make My friends response was…”I hate eggs!”

“OK, then back to canning pickles it is…”

After trying to understand my friends over the phone recipe I’d finally had enough.

“Hold on, if you are really determined to make your own pickles, even though it’s sooooo easy to just drive to the grocery store and pick up a jar of Claussen Dill pickles and much less frustrating, then I’ll blog my pickle recipe and you can take it from there, OK?

After a minute my friend said, “I see! So this is how you get people to read your blogs. You wait until they’re helpless then force ‘em to drag their dusty eyeballs over your ponderous (insert labored and dull here) writing.”

“You got it my friend, it’s the price you gotta pay… it’s either that or pickled eggs!”

“I hate pickled eggs… go ahead an’ write yer gall dern blog then!”

So in response to my dear friend who has wrangled many a sway back, kicked more rattlesnakes into having to buy dentures and has been known to perform duets with howling coyotes in the Arizona desert during full moons… this blog is for you!


4 lbs cucumbers (3-5 inches, fresh)
2 cloves of garlic for each jar (peeled)
2-3 fresh sprigs of dill for each jar
4 or 5 black peppercorns for each jar
1 small fresh hot red cayenne pepper or banana pepper for each jar (optional)
2 quarts of water
2 quarts of white vinegar
scant 1/2 cup of pickling or canning salt NOT TABLE OR ROCK SALT, these will turn your pickles dark


Set aside enough jars to hold all of your pickles

Cut the blossom end of the pickle off, about 1/8th inch. (like a cigar)

Soak freshly picked cucumbers in a tub of ice water overnight. (Do not use old cucumbers or the pickles will be rubbery). Wipe the pickles dry. Pack sterilized jars* with several sprigs of dill, one clove of garlic at the top and bottom and the cucumbers.

Boil the 2 quarts of water, 2 quarts of vinegar and 1/2 cup pickling salts for 5 minutes. Pour the boiling brine over the cucumbers to the top then place the lid over the jar top, Screw the jar lid ring on to prevent the lid from being knocked loose. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes by placing the jars in a canning pot or large stock pot. Remove then let cool

Let jars sit in a dark cool place for 3 weeks to allow the pickles to absorb the vinegar, spices and salts.

*To sterilize jars. Boil 2 gallons of water. Meanwhile, fill all jars with hot tap water. Wait one minute and then the empty jars. Place dry towel in bottom of sink. Set hot but empty jars in sink. Pour enough boiling enough water into jars filling completely to the top. Wait 5 minutes then using hand protection empty hot jars and place upside down on a CLEAN towel. They are now sterilized.