Tuesday, August 4, 2020

My Mother's Pickle Canning Recipe None Of You Asked For, Which Was Rude

I'm basically Martha Stewart now, except I've been to less prison and I look better in skirts. I thought I might as well fully lean in and turn Stranger into a quasi recipe site. My recipes are better than most because you don't have to scroll past a 5,000-word essay about some woman's husband. Instead, I INCLUDE THE ESSAY WITHIN THE RECIPES! (Also, for past recipes, I've started a Recipe tab at the top of this very stupid website. I don't even know what Stranger is anymore.)

The below is one I've been meaning to write up since before the war. It's my momma's famous (D-list celebrities, but that's big for vine plants) pickle canning recipe. I grew up on these and they have forever ruined all other pickles for me. Once you have a Cathie pickle, you'll never go back-thy . . . shnickle. That rhyme didn't really work out but I'm too lazy to delete.


Ingredients (This will probably make about 8 quarts. Or it will make more. Or it will make less. I don't know. I'm not a damn physisisisist.)

18 pounds of cukes (3 to 5 inches. Yes I'm already resisting many off-color jokes)
A shit ton of un-iodized granulated salt
6 cups of white vinegar (4%-6% acidity)
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
9 cups of water
2 Tablespoons of pickling spice
Mustard seed (enough to do 2 teaspoons per jar)
Like, so many garlic cloves (at least 15-20)
Dill plant (enough for 3 heads per jar)
Dill seed (enough for 1 tablespoon per jar)

1. Scrub the cukes in a sink where there are soggy Cheerios and wonder where those came from because you were pretty sure this house of two adult men doesn't have Cheerios in it. 

Pro tip: This isn't really a tip. I just needed to tell you that last week Skylar found a dead rat in the backyard and he spent a whole day building the courage to "deal with it" and obviously I wasn't going to help. He eventually put it in a garbage bag, threw it into our garbage bin, and then poured half a bottle of Pine-Sol(????) on it. 

2. Soak the cukes in a brine made by combining 2 gallons of water with 1.5 cups of un-iodized salt overnight. Apparently this softens their skins so they have a harder time dealing with internet criticism.

Pro tip: my momma says if you do this with iodized salt it will make the cukes mushy. No, nobody knows what "iodized" means. And yes, this is the same mother who told me a mole on the back of her neck was a third eye that allowed her to see what I was doing at all times and I believed this UNTIL I WAS ELEVEN.

Pro tip 2: Use a heavy pan lid to keep the cukes under water in case any of them are still alive. You could also consider tying a string to their fingers and connecting it to a bell so they can ring it if they aren't quite dead.

3. Assemble all the other ingredients for a like so way cute picture you can post on Instagram in order to let your followers know your house is about to smell like shit for five days.

4. Drain the cukes and then slice off one end just in case it survived the water bath; this will ensure that it's dead, once and for all.

Pro tip: I'm told that slicing off the end both removes any stem remaining and helps them pickle. I don't know why. I just work here.

Pro tip 2: If you unnecessarily place all of these salty cukes in a new bowl instead of just leaving them in the original pot where you had soaked them, my husband will show up and say "WHY ARE YOU DIRTYING MORE DISHES I'M GOING TO HAVE TO CLEAN THIS MESS UP." Tell him you are doing all of this for him and he should really be more grateful so he can respond "I DON'T EVEN LIKE PICKLES WE STILL HAVE NINE QUARTS FROM LAST YEAR WHY ARE YOU MAKING MORE."

5. Combine and boil the vinegar, 3/4 cup of un-iodized salt, the sugar, the water, and the pickling spice in a large pot so that it looks like you are cooking backwash.

Pro tip: thanks to this step, you'll never have snot in your nose again. Husband almost started crying when he walked into the kitchen during this part.

6. Pack the cukes into clean hot quart jars and then add to each jar: 2 teaspoons of mustard seed, 1-2 whole garlic cloves, 3 heads of dill plant, and 1 tablespoon of dill seeds.

Pro tip: my momma says you can do either the heads of dill or the dill seed, but my family does not believe it's possible to put too much dill in anything (except maybe an open wound) so we do both.

7. Pour the boiling vinegar backwash water into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom. Spill and scream vociferously during this part. 

Pro tip: wear your husband's clothes during all of this. That way his favorite t-shirt smells like vinegar instead of yours. Also, be emotionally prepared to hear him yell, "why are you wearing that!? You are going to stretch it out!"

8. Last time I posted a recipe someone noted that my teapot and stove make a face and now I can't unsee it and I'm starting to wonder if this thing is somehow responsible for COVID-19.

9. Lid and process the jars for 25 minutes.

Pro tip: Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On is 4 minutes and 39 seconds, which means, you have enough time to listen to it 5.37634409 times while the jars process. Look, I'm not telling you how to live your life. I'm just giving you options. 

10. Place the jars on a shelf for 4 to 6 weeks I NEVER SAID IT WOULD BE EASY I ONLY SAID IT WOULD BE WORTH IT.

Pro tip: I think these probably "pickle" a little faster than that but I'm always too scared that I'm going to open them too early.

And that's it! Now you have pickles and you can open a restaurant that only serves pickles and it will definitely get shut down immediately because who would go to that restaurant SUCH A STUPID IDEA DON'T DO THAT.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. It warms my heart that you have someone to yell at you for wearing their clothes and complain when you make dishes. Turns out the true meaning of marriage is having someone who acts like you're their annoying sibling, but still chose you til death do you part. ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Re: Skylar and the dead rat
    Today, my cat had her first run in with a real live mouse (she’s an indoor cat so doesn’t have many opportunities to meet critters other than bugs). Once I realized what she was playing with, had my initial freak out, told myself what I needed to do, had a second freak out because that didn’t sound pleasant, and called my dad so he could tell me what I needed to do which was the same as what I told myself but a lot more helpful hearing it from him anyway, I managed to successfully trap it (my cat helped! She chased it out into the open where I easily placed a glass container over it) and safely relocate it to the garden outside my condo building. My cat then savagely attacked her Sasquatch toy for a while which was not quite as fun to her as the live mouse had been.

    I proceeded to spray disinfectant everywhere and washed my hands several times.

    1. I just let my cats kill the mice. Then they leave them on the floor outside my bedroom door and this is why you always wear flip flops when you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And why you call a pest control man to come to your house NOW and make it so they can't come in any more.

      I prefer the mice to the bats though. 2020: the year I invested my child's college fund in the pest control man.

    2. It 100% was horrifying. 😂
      Next day my cat and I flew to Arizona (unrelated) and my condo is gonna be empty for a few months so some friends are checking on it periodically. I sincerely hope the mouse was a one-time thing since nobody is there to catch them...

    3. We had a mouse come into our house in a Chewy box a couple of months ago (the box was damaged and the bag inside ripped and it sat on our front walk for a couple of days before my husband brought it in - IT WAS NOT CHEWY'S FAULT - WE STILL ORDER FROM THEM!). It was probably in the house for a week (because we're lazy and didn't open the box yet) when the dog discovered it. I screamed and got my husband. In the meantime the mouse found a hidey hole on the bottom of our cedar chest. So my husband wanted me to help him carry said chest outside and pick it up on the side the mouse was on to do so.

      HELLS NO!

      He finally gave me the other side and we put the chest outside for a week and the mouse found it's way back into the woods.

  3. I see a trend here. He wants us to start asking for recipes. So, tell me what to make for dinner tonight and post the recipe. Thanks, love you bunches.

    Also, this was my favorite recipe so far- and the commentary was 🔥. Devin and I have been can i t pickles, too.

  4. Good informative blog. :)

    Pro tips tweaked .... :)
    Uniodized salt keeps your canning fluid clear. Iodized salt makes it cloudy.

    Cutting ends off cukes helps keep pickles crisp instead of mushy. There is an enzyme in the stem that makes pickles soft and also unsafe to eat.

    Probably not important to know why but important to just do it! :) :)

    Mom XOXOXO

  5. Dill! Wonderful dill. I didn’t even realize I was such a fan until I went to a cheese factory in Wisconsin and got dill cheese curds. SO good.

  6. Now I need to send you my recipe for polish pickle soup so you can use last year’s Pickles.

  7. Vociferously is my new favorite swear word to yell.

  8. I can't stand blogger recipes; just get on with it pleeease... but this was fantastic. My attention deficit riddled raisin-for-a-brain was treated to little breaks from the 'serious' bits with the pro-tips, love it. Keep adding recipes, this will be the only blog I go to for them :D

  9. If Skylar doesn't love Minnesota Sushi made from your plethora of pickles, then I guess this isn't America anymore! https://www.grinningcheektocheek.com/mn-sushi

  10. Have you ever considered setting up a camp stove in the backyard and doing your canning outside? It mitigates both the heat and smell problems by passing them on to the rest of the neighborhood instead of confining them inside the four walls of your home. Also, if things boil over you just spray off the patio and walk away.

  11. But where do you get the cucumbers? I just planted 8 plants hoping I get enough to make pickles. The couple I planted earlier in the summer wasn't enough.

  12. What do you mean by "process the jars for 25 minutes"? Asking for a friend because obviously I would know this information!

    1. This. I need a blog tutorial on how to can in general.

  13. Ok sounds like I need to boil some backwash stat - I have been stuck at home with children with colds that won’t quit and I would really like there to be no snot left in my house. I know it’s not the ‘Rona but I also don’t feel like I can go anywhere with snotty kids right now - it just feels rude??? Cold season is going to be fun.

    Pickles only restaurant is a terrible idea BUT you could have a market selling your pickling backwash juice as a backwoods cold remedy!