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Making kosher dill pickles

Last year I decided to make Kosher dill pickles.  Not just any dill pickle – I wanted to recreate the pickles I remembered and loved from Duke Ziebert’s restaurant in Washington, DC.  It was one of those iconic places.  You will always remember it.  At Duke’s it was Duke himself.  A larger than life character who made everyone believe he remembered them and was so happy they came back.  Then there were the onion rolls – warm and so flavorful.  But I loved the dill pickles.  Every meal started off with a plate of big fat dill pickles that you cut yourself.  Some insisted that they had to be cut in spears, others  chips, I imagine some may have picked up the whole pickle and started munching.  I didn’t care how they were cut, I just loved the strong garlic dill taste.

I searched the internet for recipes that sounded like they would give me something at least close to Duke’s.  Most recipes were for pickles that got canned with the traditional water bath method.  What I remembered was bright green fresh looking cucumbers.  I was sure they must have been prepared in the refrigerator.  After all as many as they went through he had to have a constant supply.  After searching some more I found some recipes where the cucumbers were fermented a few days then refrigerated.  That must be how he did it.

So I picked the ingredients and portions from various recipes that sounded the best to me and made a batch.  This is what was left a year later:




Surprisingly, these were still crisp and delicious – just lost the bright green color.

Time to make some more.  I have gathered all my ingredients:



We have several pounds of cucumbers, fresh garlic, fresh dill, distilled water, vinegar, pickling salt and pickle crisp.  My mason jars are sterilized in boiling water while the tops are in another pot of simmering water.  In the meantime, make your brine by combining distilled water, pickling salt and vinegar – use 1/4 cup each of salt and vinegar per 6 cups of water.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then allow to return to room temperature.





Now to each jar add about three cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of dill, pack in your cucumbers either whole or cut – your choice.  I left the ones on the bottom whole but cut the top layer to get more in the jar.  Now add a few more cloves of garlic and some dill plus about 1/4 teaspoon of pickle crisp granules (optional).  Cover completely with brine and put in refrigerator four plus days.  Most recipes will tell you that the refrigerated pickles will last for weeks but my experience has been they last a lot longer if you happen to make too many.  Although these are so good you won’t get a chance to test this.

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Another option is to allow the jarred pickles to sit on a window sill or porch where they have a temperature of 80+ for a few days and you have fermented (aka sour pickles).  These would then go in the refrigerator after fermentation.  Since I have an abundance of pickles this year I am trying both ways.


Then the next pickle project is going to be bread and butter pickle chips for my granddaughter.


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Peacock Swirl Challenge – Third and Final Try

My first two tries didn’t make the cut. I was willing to give it one more try since I really like the way a peacock swirl looks and I want to add it to my soap line up.

This time I decided to go with red, white and blue since I was running out of time to make a 4th of July soap.  Since we were supposed to use four colors, I added a little yellow in the design.  I was afraid to tinker with the colors because I didn’t want another failure but I needed a darker blue and a red red.  So I added a little black oxide to ultra marine blue and for the red I remembered that someone had shared that they added red brick oxide and merlot sparkle to Brambleberry’s Electric Bubble Gum mica.  This was a gamble as I don’t have much experience at mixing colors.

I had just received some new supplies that included Raspberry Lemonade fragrance oil (it smells so good I just had to try it).  Besides what could be better on a summer’s day then raspberry lemonade?

Here is the freshly poured soap:


Another angle of the raw soap – you can see what I did with the left over mix – I love that little mold Brambleberry gave us at the Soap Guild conference in Raleigh.Image:

I described the problems I had with my other tries in the posts below. This time I just covered the soap and put it on one of my plant propagation heat mats to help with the gel.  When I uncovered it the next day I couldn’t believe it.  The colors were still bright an beautiful.  Have a look:


There are some cut pics:



It was a lot of fun and I am already looking forward to the next challenge.  Thanks Amy for putting this together for all your hard work to make it happen.

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Second Peacock Swirl – Another failure

Okay. so I don’t give up.  This time I decided to use different colors – pink, purple, yellow and green.  Again all the prep and actual soap making went great.  I’ll skip those pics this time.  I got the soaps poured and squirted all the color.  It looked beautiful when I used the rake.



Now time for the peacock swirl part.  I got out my chop stick and made my first pass at “S” curves.  It for some reason didn’t look right.  Was I supposed to do the “S” in the other direction.  I turned the mold and started in a different direction.  Mistake.  The swirl is now ruined.  The soap gremlins must not want me to learn this technique.  Here’s how it turned out.



A peacock swirl it is not, but If you didn’t know what I was trying to accomplish you would probably think it was a pretty swirl.  No way I was going to put this in the oven.  But since I soaped at a low temp I thought I best put it in the frig to insure that it didn’t do a partial gel.  I sprayed with alcohol and the gremlins struck again.  The soap got a film on top from the spray and as I was walking to the frig I slightly jarred the mold and one end got wrinkles.  Then the colors faded.



Well that is only 2 strikes and if this were baseball, I’d have one more chance.  Can I actually get a batch made and keep the soap gremlins at bay????  I will post the results in the next day or two.  Let’s hope the third time is a charm!

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First Peacock Swirl – I got warts!

Well I tried the peacock swirl for Amy’s challenge and everything went great.  I was so very organized (for me) and took lots of photos to show you.  I’ll include some.  The first below shows my brand new soap mold — I made it!  Very proud of that.


Lots of colors out to choose from.  Finally decided to go with the colors that would look most like a peacock.  Here are the colors mixed and another pic of the soap in the bottles with a few lines pouredImage.


Got it swirled and it looked pretty good to me.  See:


I decided to put it in the oven for what is known as CPOP (cold process oven process).  The heat is supposed to make the colors pop.  The way it works is you set your oven as low as it will go.  For mine that was 170 F. You leave it for about 30 minutes to an hour than turn the heat off and let the soap stay in the oven over night.  Okay so when I go to turn the oven off, I peaked.  OH NO.  There were bubbles on top of the soap.  When I took it out of the oven, my soap had ugly warts.


I was very disappointed to say the least.  After I cut it, I planed the soap and was able to salvage it.  Those who don’t read this blog will never know there was a problem with the soap.


The one on the left looks great after a visit to the planer.  I am happy to say the rest now look good too.