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“I wish I had a nickel to buy a pickle.”

August 5, 2011

That was an old song my grandma used to sing when I was a kid. I always thought it was the silliest song I ever heard, but sadly I never asked her where exactly she heard it. I know she went to Salvation Army summer camp (which she HATED and refused to go again) one year with her brother, Tom, when they were very small in the early 1920’s. That is where they learned the famous song “Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut just now…” but I don’t think the pickle song was learned there. As a matter of fact, I’ve only found one source on the internet that has it listed. It might be that she meant this song, if so, then the lyrics are really “My mom gave me a nickel to buy a pickle…” Hey, don’t laugh, Dean Martin & Ella Fitzgerald both covered that one.

I miss my grandma terribly. I think about her every day, as there’s always something that reminds me of her. But grief is a funny thing. I feel better about things when I’m busy or being constructive, so I decided to “turn my sorrow into treasured gold” and keep myself busy at the same time by making some pickles. My grandma loved my homemade pickles. When I say loved, I mean loved. She ate an entire jar by herself, and her and my mother split one on the 4th of July. That’s what I mean when I say ‘loved.’ She was waiting patiently to open her new jar of pickles, but they hadn’t fully fermented yet before she passed away, so sadly she never got to try them. So in the spirit of all that, I went out and bought some locally-grown, farm fresh cukes, and I came up with a generic pickle recipe using dill seeds, pickling spice, garlic and a little bit of hot pepper flakes. I know it may seem crazy to some, that I miss my grandma so I made pickles. But to me it makes perfect sense. I also made a recipe using some stuff from my garden– fresh dill heads & some coriander (cilantro) that had started to go to seed. Yep. Coriander pickles! Two pickle recipes in one post.. how lucky are you!

Yes, I realize I’m nuts. Don’t hold it against me.

Right after Nana died, there was a terrible heatwave- I’m talking 105° temperatures. It was too hot to breathe. Yet here I was, canning/jarring almost every day. Jams, jellies, canned hot peppers in oil, pickles; you name it, I canned it. So I started experimenting with recipes so I wasn’t making the same thing over & over… & that’s where the coriander pickles came from. And HOLY SHIT were they famous around here! But first, let’s just talk about the straight up “spicy” pickles. They aren’t hot, not at all, they’re just made with pickling spice & cumin so therefore they are “spicy.” It’s really just a basic pickle recipe, nothing fancy.

I clearly like to pack the cucumbers before I add the spices, haha… what a mess I make…

Pre-water bath; this time I made some pickle slices too, just to shake things up




  • 8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice (divided into fourths)
  • cumin seeds (a dash per jar)
  • hot pepper flakes (to taste, I only used a teeeeeny weeny bit because I didn’t want these hot, just “spicy”)
  • 4 small cloves garlic


  1.  Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. This prevents a “mushy” pickle, as the ends of cucumbers contain an enzyme that makes them mushy. Place jars in canner to sterilize them and place lids in hot water to soften seal.
  2.  Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove hot jars from canner. Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 tsp dill seeds, ¼ teaspoon pickling spice,a dash of hot pepper flakes and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers.
  3. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within ½ inch of rim (head space). Process 10 minutes for pint jars and 15 minutes for quart jars.
  4. Allow jars to sit for one week before opening for optimal flavor.

Spears and slices, slices and spears…

I used wide mouth jars this time. I know some people prefer regular mouth for pickles because they tend to rise a little, but I find it doesn’t matter if you pack the cucumbers well enough. And it really is necessary to pack them tight, because they shrink up quite a bit. I actually had 3½  pounds of cukes, and it filled the jars perfectly but the second jar of slices is a little short on pickles. Oh well! I always make that mistake, somehow & end up with one jar that has less than the others. I actually find I prefer wide mouth for pickles, because it’s easier to pack them tighter. But to each his/her own.

As far as the coriander pickles, it was something I came up with after noticing my cilantro had started to go to seed. I had tons of sprigs of it with little, round, green coriander seeds starting to grow and I had no idea what to do with them. I basically decided I’d use them & the dill heads in with a pickle recipe, and see how that turned out. Coriander is often found in pickling spice mixes, so I thought there wouldn’t be any harm in adding it. Although I know there’s probably a difference between dried, mature coriander seeds and young, green, fresh coriander. The recipe is very simple, being that it’s just off the top of my crazy head. Using an equation of 1 parts vinegar to 3 parts water and ¼ of the vinegar measurement in pickling salt. For example: 1 quart vinegar, 3 quarts water, 1 cup pickling salt. The measurements should match the amount/size of jars & pickles you’re using, obviously. Then boil the mixture in a non-reactive pot, meanwhile slicing your Kirby’s (or other pickling cucumbers) lengthwise after removing the “nibbly bits” on the ends. Pack the jars with the sliced cukes, adding one clove of garlic, 2 sprigs fresh dill heads (preferably gone to seed) and one sprig coriander that had started to seed. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture into each jar, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Place lids & bands on top and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Annnnnnnnnnnnnd you’re done.

This jar I added a bit of extra dill to in the form of dill seeds… just because the one dill sprig I had left was pathetic looking & small, as you can see.

You can see the garlic, coriander sprigs & fresh dill sprigs in the bottom there…

The fresh, green coriander seeds have a very different flavor than the dried ones. It’s a citrusy, bright flavor that’s a sort of cross between coriander and cilantro. If you can’t get your hands on them (which you often can at ethnic shops), then it might not be worth using the dried. I grow my own, so it’s easy for me to take advantage of these little green pods. If you have a cilantro plant, let it grow. Use those seeds fresh or dried, you won’t be disappointed. The taste of these pickles was so unique, you could really taste the taste of cilantro.

Cheese & rice, could I be any paler?


Coriander Seed is an important source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese. In holistic and traditional medicine, it is used as a carminative and as a digestive aid. Coriander seeds reduce fever, and promote a feeling of coolness.


I love the color of these pickles. That’s probably from the reduced vinegar amount. If you want to keep them whole and not slice them, you might want to add a grape leaf and/or some alum to each jar. Those things help keep them crisp despite keeping the “blossom” ends on them. Also the garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. That is absolutely no big deal, nothing to be alarmed about, it is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic. Mine never has, but I’ve read it can happen, so just be prepared. Like I said above in the other recipe, I’d let them sit for at least a week to really get the flavors set but if you have no willpower, don’t worry- my father can’t keep his hands off them & always eats them before they’re “ready”, and not only does he not get botulism, he claims they taste wonderful. I have no idea, because I always wait until the jars are ready before I open them. I usually try and wait two weeks, really, just so they’re really all soaked in & stuff. But that’s just me.

I know, I’m crazy, I even tied them in pickle-colored ribbons to give away as gifts.

The coriander pickles are milder than regular pickles, due to less vinegar. Even with the garlic, they have a lemon-y kind of essence to them, very herb-y. Delicious and different, but more of an “artisan” pickle than a regular pickle. It’s not your typical Kosher dill or garlic pickle… it has a different twist. Not too different, I mean vinegar + dill = pickle. But it definitely has a unique flavor. And obviously, if you don’t have the Cilantro gene, then you are not going to like these.

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  1. I know it may seem crazy to some, that I miss my grandma so I made pickles.

    It doesn’t seem crazy to me at all; it seems wonderful. You are honoring your grandmother’s memory every time you set foot in your kitchen. Everyone deals with grief in different ways, and frankly I think making ginormous quantities of canned deliciousness is much, much healthier than, say, taking up drinking. (Not that there’s anything wrong with raising a glass to our honored dead, just that getting blitzed every day isn’t maybe the safest way to deal, you know?)

    If anyone tries to tell you that your canning projects are a weird way to respond to bereavement, may I suggest that you cordially invite them to kiss your ass?

  2. Elizabeth I love this comment you wrote. I agree. I came home from my grandmother’s service & made 8 jars of pickles. The next day I made jam. The next day mint jelly, the next day peppers in oil, etc etc. And I kept thinking to myself “People would think I was nuts if they saw me, I come home, take off my black dress & heels & start pickling” but it helped. It really did. When I was immersed in doing things it helped me to not be as sad & miserable & angry, etc.

    And then I thought, who really gives a shit what people think? I certainly never have. So why the hell would I care if people thought I was crazy now? Haha. It definitely wouldn’t be a new concept anyway 😉 And yep, they can 100% kiss my white ass in Macy*s window as far as I’m concerned.

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