The pickle “how to”post

If you want to make fermented pickles, this post will help you do it. I followed this recipe a few weeks ago with great success

You’ll need stuff first:

Jars– I use 1 1/2 pint, quart, and 1/2 gallon mason jars. You’ll have to figure out what size you prefer, but I suggest you use at least pint jars with large mouths. You can even use gallon jars, if you have them. Large mouth jars will accept 4 oz. jam jars, which are excellent to use as weights to keep the cucumbers below the brine surface. But Ziplock bags work perfectly well.

Ziplock plastic bags– or 4 oz jelly jars if you’re using wide mouth jars to pickle in- to keep the cucumbers submerged in the brine so they don’t mold. Moldy pickles turn to mush, and suck.

Lids– I used “Tattler” brand lids because they were easy to drill with a hole saw. I’d avoid steel lids because they’ll rust.

Grommets– I bought mine at a local brew store, but they can be had at Grainger as well. You want 3/8″ i.d. and 5/8″ o.d.

Airlock– Once again, you can get these at a brew store as I did, or order them online.  You don’t need expensive ones.

A 5/8″ hole saw– to cut the holes in the lids to accept the grommets. I bought one for less than $10 at a local home improvement store.

Jar rings– use old ones, because the brine will make them rust.

Cucumbers– I get mine from a local fruit truck, but farmer’s markets and small farms are a great source as well.

Salt– nothing fancy, just non iodized salt. I prefer sea salt, the cheap stuff.

Garlic cloves, peeled. The more the better, in my opinion.

Dill– I used a head of fresh dill in each jar and a tsp. of dried dill in each jar.

Mustard seed

Whole black peppercorns

Crushed red pepper

Pickling spice (if you want)

Reverse osmosis water– you don’t want chlorine in it.

Get your Tattler lids out and use the hole saw to cut a hole in each tattler lid, then install the grommet. it’s pretty easy. Make sure there aren’t any plastic shavings on them- I washed mine in the sink to get rid of the cuttings.

Wash everything squeaky clean.

Put a head of dill, mustard seed, peppercorns, crushed red pepper, clove of garlic, and pickling spice in each jar. I used about a tablespoon of each, or thereabouts. I didn’t use pickling spice in every jar, either. But I kept track of which jars I put it in so I can tell if I like it better.

Prepare the cucumbers by scrubbing each one with a brush, and scrape the blossom off the end. As I scrubbed each one, I put it in a jar, arranging them as I went. Leave a couple inches of headspace in every jar: this allows you to use some sort of weight or spacer on top of the pickles so the pickles don’t mold and turn to mush. I figured this out the hard way, after ignoring the advice of others. I did ignore the advice of others and omitted oak, grape, and other leaves. My pickles turned out fine.

When the jars are full, prepare a brine with 1/2 Tbsp per cup of non-chlorinated water. I went to a local grocery store and bought a couple gallons of reverse osmosis water to ensure I wasn’t adding chlorine, which will kill the bugs you’re trying to grow. Fill each jar, leaving enough space for a ziplock bag with a small amount of water or brine in it to weigh the pickles down and keep them from poking out of the brine. If you’re using wide mouth jars, you can use a 4 oz. jelly jar for a weight, and it fits perfect in the mouth of the wide mouth. Fill the jelly jar with brine before you lower it into the jar

Put the gasket that comes with the Tattler lid on the lid, and cap the jar, screwing the bands down finger tight.

Fill your airlocks with water, and put them in the grommets. Store the jars at room temperature. Resist the temptation to open the jars- lacto bacillus fermentation is an anaerobic process, and oxygen will stop the fermentation.

Now you wait for three long, miserable weeks, smelling the pickles bubbling away without being able to eat them. I’ll confess that I opened a jar after 2 weeks, and it was fabulous.

Eat, and enjoy great, heathy  pickles.

See also:

Many thanks to Sally Fallon

Another nice score

I answered an ad on Craigslist for a 3 burner Coleman stove, which the seller (who was 250 miles away) said was new, and that he had lit it to ensure it worked. I received pictures, and decided to make the trip.

Turns out the stove was beautiful :

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 photo IMG_0839.jpgI’m glad I made the trip. It was hot-96 degrees and long, but worth it. I visited some friends in a nearby town while I was there.

My old Coleman 414 will be relegated to occasional and emergency use.

I’m also going to build a storage box for it out of some Baltic birch plywood this winter…

More pickles 

The fruit seller finally brought a case of cucumbers on Friday, and when I returned from my trip out of town (stay tuned) I put them into jars. Three weeks from now, I’ll have a bunch of lacto fermented pickles. And a full fridge.  

Wikipedia is at it again

They’re begging for money, again. if you go to any page on Wikipedia, it has a banner asking for help.

I urge you not to contribute to them. Wikipedia is inaccurate and biased, and full of feedback loops (look up “Brazilian aardvark”)

But don’t take my word for it. Check out this article and come to your own conclusions.

New brakes

The front brakes on the Nissan have been squeaking practically since I bought it two years ago. There was plenty of pad left, but the were cheap- AutoZone’s DuraLast house brand.

I bought a set of Wagner ThermoQuiet pads from Rock Auto, as I’ve had good success with Wagner on the Ford truck. This is the first time I’ve used Rock Auto, and they were easy to do business with.

The first thing I noticed was how easy the pads were to change- the manual says to loosen the top bolt, remove the bottom bolt, then swing the caliper up and out of the way, and it’s not kidding. I went ahead and took off the caliper from the knuckle in order to compress the caliper piston more easily.

After a test drive, it appears the new pads work great.

Happy birthday, Samuel.

I’ll likely use this day each year to sing the praises of a man who was useful in the events of 19 April, 1775.

Samuel Whittemore was a serious badass. From Wikipedia:

Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols and killed a grenadier and mortally wounded a second. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked.[6] He was shot in the face, bayoneted numerous times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found by colonial forces, alive, trying to load his musket to fight again. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 96.

They leave out the fact that he fathered more children after he recovered from his wounds.

A less (very much so) version can be found here. Language warning.

Long live the spirit of this sort of man.

From the field to the jar

 I bought a bagful of pickles from a roadside fruit/ vegetable vendor and got busy getting them into jars. I’d ordered a whole box, but the vendor sold most of them before I got there. Next week, they ought to have more.
I’m using the lacto fermentation method, similar to the process for making sauerkraut, but with different spices. I’m looking forward to the finished product.


I love going to junkyards. They’re almost as much fun as camping trips: in fact, when I can combine a camping trip and a trip to a junkyard, I really enjoy it.

Today I took the Ford truck (because it has all the tools in it) and drove to a yard at a nearby-ish town, looking for three or four 15″ wheels for my utility trailer. I’m specifically looking for 5 on 4 1/2″ pattern wheels, and I took the trailer to make sure that whatever I found would fit the trailer. But before I found wheels for the trailer, I found four 14″ wheels with good tires on an ’87 Nissan pickup that will fit my ’91 Nissan pickup. It took me about a half hour to get them off, and the fellow who owns the place charged me $40 for all four wheels/tires, a brand new set of brake pads that were behind the seat of the truck, the jack rod/handle,the dome light lens, the windshield washer reservoir cap, and the lug wrench. Wish I had more time, I’d have stripped off the starter, alternator, door handles…and more, probably.

I was able to mount the “new” tires on the truck, and on the way back from storage (put the snow tires in the shed across town), drove the truck on the interstate- they work great. I’ve probably saved myself from purchasing new tires this season.

I’ll tinker with the lens on Sunday, and use the Sabbath to rest my aching back. I’m looking forward to the relaxation.

I’m sure pleased that so few people deign to get their hands dirty at the junkyard.