Pickles to Relish book recipe

cindy_7August 15, 2013

I have questions about the recipe on page 101 - Sweet Dills.

For the spices it says:

4 dill heads,
1/4 t. mustard seed,
2-4 garlic cloves
1-4 serrano peppers

Does that mean per jar or for the entire batch of cucumbers?

Also, I could not find dill heads, so how much dill weed/seed do I substitute?

Thanks for any help.


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Is this the book you are talking about?

Never heard of it before so I had to look it up. And I've never seen it mentioned here before either. No way to know if anyone else has the book to check the recipe or not so you will have to post the entire recipe word for word for us to figure out your first question.

If the recipe doesn't make it clear then I'd question using the recipe. Otherwise my best guess is it means per jar as that wouldn't be much for a whole batch.

As to the substitution rate for 1 head of dill, you get a range of answers and the resulting tastes are very different which is why substitution is a problem

About 3/4 teaspoon of dill seed equals and average head of dill

1 t dill seed = 1 head of dill

1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed to equal a four-inch sprig of dill.



    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:14AM
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Yes, that's the book.

The entire recipe:

1.5# cucumbers
3/8c. brown sugar
1/4 c. pickling salt
2 and 1/4 c. cider vinegar
2 c. water
4 dill heads,
1/4 t. mustard seed,
2-4 garlic cloves
1-4 serrano peppers

Use baby or small cucumbers. Boil the sugar, salt, vinegar and water. Jar the cucumbers with the dill, garlic, cloves, mustard seed and peppers leaving 6% headspace. SP/RWB10-15(16OZ) 15-20 (32OZ) OE JSP180dF/30(16OZ) Increase the processing time for larger pickles.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:49AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

leaving 6% headspace. SP/RWB10-15(16OZ) 15-20 (32OZ) OE JSP180dF/30(16OZ) Increase the processing time for larger pickles.

WOW! None of that makes any sense at all. What a lousy set of instructions. I have never have seen any recipe written that poorly much less a canning recipe.

Best I can tell it is talking about making 1 jar (of unknown size) pickles. 1.5 lbs (#) of cukes isn't much at all.

Sorry but you are on your own with this recipe I'm afraid. I wouldn't touch it.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:06AM
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SP - seal and process
RWB = Rolling water bath

I won't need this info because I will be canning (OE JSP180dF/30(16OZ) ) in the 16 oz size.

Does this help?


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:55AM
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1.5 lbs of cukes sounds like about a quart? So per jar, or split it into 2 pints. Closest recipe I found in Linda Z's Joy of Pickling (I haven't checked other books yet) is for Dutch Lunch Spears by the Quart

1 1/4 lb 3" pickling cucumbers
3 Tbsp plus 2 tsp pickling salt
1 quart plus 34/C water
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small onion, peeled
1 dill head
2 grape leaves (optional)
3/4C cider vinegar
1/4C sugar
1 tsp mixed pickling spices

Calls for washing and quartering the cukes (after removing blossom end), brining for 8-12 hours in 3T salt dissolved in 1 quart water, rinsing and draining.

Pack cucumbers, garlic, onion and dill into 1 quart jar. Boil the 3/4C water, 2tsp salt, sugar, vinegar and spices, stirring to dissolve. Pour hot liquid over cucumbers, cap jar and let it cool.

Store in fridge for at least 1 week before eating. Refrigerated, they will keep for several months, at least.

There is a note that these can be processed (though she says to multiply everything by 4 since it's not worth processing a single quart of pickles.) Processing time is 10 minutes.

Your recipe sounds very salty. If you want to make it, I'd cut back on the salt and store it in the fridge even though it's got slightly more vinegar than water, b/c you have the peppers (instead of the onion) too. Sounds like a lot of dill too. So make a test jar (or 2 pints) and just keep it in the fridge.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 12:02PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I have that book. It's by Beverly Alfeld, who is very reliable. However, that book is in part a study of pickling and the issues related to safe processing, so the nomenclature is different.

The reason Alfeld uses a % figure for headspace instead of the common fraction of an inch measure is because she studied the various jars and discovered a half-inch in say, a round-shouldered jar doesn't yield the same volume of space as it would in a straight-sided jar. She noticed this variation is especially true for those who use some of the less-common European canning jars from Weck or Leifheit. Alfeld explains all that in her extensive forward.

In this recipe you would apportion the cucumbers into the pints or quarts and then apportion the dill, garlic etc. accordingly.

The SP/RWB10-15(16OZ) means Seal, Process Rolling Water Bath 10-15 minutes in 16 oz. jars.

It's really important to note in this recipe that she bold-faces this statement Increase the processing times for larger pickles or "Refrigerate Only".

When Alfeld says this, I go with the Refrigerate Only option. Alfeld is very meticulous in her methods and when she recommends a more conservative option, I do it. She's the only writer I know of who notes that product thickness can affect the safety of the recipe.

This is an excellent book, thoroughly researched, but not a good "starter" I would recommend for a novice. You do have to invest time in reading the extensive introductory chapters.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:24PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Does this help?,

I understand what it supposed to be saying but the majority of canners would not.

My point is it a a very poor way, and potentially hazardous way, of writing a canning recipe

And that fact, not to mention the several bad reviews it has on amazon, makes me question at least the value/cost of the book and the safety of the book as a whole. At best it can only lead to confusion such as you are having and at worst potentially unsafe results. So there simply is no justification for writing a canning recipe in this manner and given the author's reputation she should know better.

So IMO there are likely valid reasons why it is a relatively unknown book and should be used at your own risk.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:27PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Ball recipes and NCHFP recipes are written to be as close to foolproof as possible regardless of one's experience. They are designed to allow for safety within pretty broad parameters.

Alfeld's book is not written for that audience. It is written as a science-based exploration of issues relative to pickling. It assumes an interested and committed readership who are reasonably knowledgeable about food preservation or willing to become knowledgeable.

She is very straightforward about degrees of risk.

As I mentioned before, I don't believe this is a suitable book for the novice nor would most home food processors have the time or energy to invest. It is almost a food science textbook. It is also quirky, even eccentric.

But it can be a valuable resource if used in the manner intended. I don't think it's just to judge a book designed for one purpose in terms of another.

If I were contemplating additions to a library collection, I would add Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Pickling and reserve Pickles to Relish for a university collection (assuming that university had a food science program).


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 3:46PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I can't dispute what you are saying Carol but I guess i would have to ask Cindy if that was clear to her when she bought the book because it definitely isn't marketed as such.

Specifically designed for ease of use by anyone-homemaker or professional chef and everyone in between-

within reach of even those home cooks with basic skills, limited time, and access to simple ingredients

But I am not just judging the book in terms of comparisons to Ball and NCHFP but the light of all the other canning books I have read over the years.

I know Alfred's reputation but as some reviewers put it this book "is so full of quirky nomenclature and fear-mongering" and "recipes [that] veer wildly between scientific precision and seat-of-the-pants variations", so "frustratingly hard to decipher", "will burden you with details", etc. that I would certainly expect better from her. So much so that I couldn't recommend its use to anyone regardless of their level of experience.

But as I said, that is JMO


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 4:52PM
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I don't have this book but I do have her Jamlady Cookbook. I will admit it took me a couple of years to assimilate all the information she put in her book (and to make a bookmark deciphering exactly what her abbreviations mean and translating it into my language).

Her Jam cookbook does contain a lot of science based information (and I'll assume her pickling book follows her same quirky nomenclature - which is a great description), and, as Carol stated, I would not recommend it for a novice.

But I do enjoy reading it and learned a lot from it (but gosh, I wish she wouldn't refer to herself in the third person as the "Jamlady".)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:19PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The problem I have with the Amazon reviews is there are only 13 online and it takes only a few negative or positive reviews to skew the results.

Nor do I put much store in publishers' or sellers' descriptions of books (though I know that leaves buyers nearly helpless). One phrase in the Forward of her book seems more apt . . . Although a bit complex for novice canners . . .

I do find Pickles to Relish less accessible than her Jamlady Cookbook. I learned a ton from Jamlady and regard it as a valuable resource.

I think I'm coming at it more from a librarian's perspective in that there's a place in the world for more specialized and idiosyncratic books, even though their readership will be much more narrow.

I'm also remembering how hard I had to fight for Ellie Topp's Small-Batch Preserving. It is also somewhat less precise in its measures and more individual in its approach.

There is an art to writing technical material clearly and even the clearest resource will confuse someone. We've seen that errors slip through even with The Ball Blue Book which must have been edited hundreds of times through multiple editions. It's even more likely now that there's a whole new population of home food preservers with no prior experience whatsoever.

I guess I'm just averse to branding a book as poorly-written or lacking in value merely because it isn't conventional. Or maybe it's because being eccentric myself I'm averse to homogenization.

But it's a philosophical difference. We do agree that Pickles to Relish is not a book for the great majority.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 9:36PM
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Thank you for the additional information.

I am not adverse to reading the information contained in the introduction in the front of the book and have read much of it. And I didn't find the recipe difficult to understand.

I just needed to know if the spices were for one jar or multiple jars of pickles.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 4:42PM
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