Hattie’s Pickles and Her Tips for Jarring
Giving the gift of pickles you’ve jarred yourself is such a great “Good Neighbor” thing to do whether you’re welcoming new neighbors or giving hostess gifts. It’s so old-fashioned and thoughtful and conjures up images of days of yore before that silly Vlassic stork started delivering them. So when I learned that my friend Hatti Davis (who bears an “uncanny” resemblance to Bette Davis) started her own small pickle business, I had to find out more. What was driving this young thirtysomething to can a classic? As it turns out, it was pure love….
Q: How did this whole thing get started?
A: This whole business started with my love of pickles. In fact “pic-wee” was my first word. Guess it was meant to be. I moved away from my hometown of Topeka, Kansas several years ago, and every time we went home to visit my folks I wanted to be sure to make a stop at Porubsky’s Deli. It’s an old Russian Deli and Grocery just outside of downtown Topeka. My family and I have been going there for lunch for as long as I can remember. We always ordered the “Cold Plate” which is assorted deli meats and cheese, white and wheat bread and hot pickles. These things were the best. When I moved to California I couldn’t find anything like them, so I decided to make some of my own. It’s a simple pickle as you use store bought dills and add flavor to them. A gateway pickle if you will. If anyone is looking for an easy pickle to make at home, here’s the recipe:
Buy a large jar (32oz or more) of your favorite store bought dill spears. Take all the spears from the jar leaving the juice in the jar. Cut the pickles into bite sized chunks. Add to the brine in the jar a small pot of prepared horseradish and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Stir the mixture and add the cut up pickles back in the jar. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and blammo! Hot pickles!
Q: And this gateway pickle led you where?
A: I loved this recipe, but I wanted to make some homemade pickles from scratch. So I did a lot of online research, read a bunch of recipes and books, and came to the recipe I have today. Tony (Hattie’s handsome boyfriend) thought they were great and suggested we sell them. So I had all my friends over and used them as guinea pigs. They loved them and insisted that they be able to buy them right away. So back to the kitchen I went, and I’ve been making them ever since. There is one really special recipe, and that’s for my BB’s. It’s actually an old recipe passed down from my family and the families of our friends from back in Overbrook, KS. It’s as old as the farmland there, and it’s no surprise to me that they are everyone’s favorites.
Q: How can John Q. Public get his hands on them?
A: I sell them online on my website pickled.bigcartel.com and through facebook. You can call me, email me, whatever. I’ll take any order any way you wanna give it to me! I also work in trade. In fact, I traded 3 jars of Hottie’s for my dining room table.
I have four flavors:
Hattie’s Hotties – Spicy Dill Pickles
Vampire Slayers – Garlic Dill Pickles
BB’s – Old School Bread and Butters with a kick
Bloody Buddies – Spicy pickles veggies (okra, asparagus, green beans, carrots) depends on what’s in season
Q: Do you work alone?
A: I do most of the work myself. I do enlist Sous Chef Tony to help stuff the jars. It’s the most time consuming part of the process. I always have volunteers offering their help to shuck garlic and other mundane tasks. You’d be surprised what people will do for free pickles.
Q: How did you learn how to jar/can properly?
A: I learned everything I know about canning from reading books, online articles and by doing it. I found it to be really easy, if not a little time consuming. There is nothing in the world more satisfying to me than hearing the “pop” of the jars sealing! I love it! I do a little dance every time I hear that sound!
Q: Do you have any tips for the beginner?
A: You can buy a cheap canning set online or even at Target, and they come with a metal cage for the bottom of the pot. This is the pot you use to seal the jars in a hot bath. The cage is to keep the jars from hitting the bottom of the pot and exploding. The metal cage that mine came with initially got rusty really fast. I suggest finding a stainless steel version. Make sure not to let it set in the water for long after you are done. Take it out, and wipe it down with a little vinegar. We have hard water here in LA and it leaves a residue behind. A little vinegar cleans it right up. I also get a white residue on the outside of my jars. Again just wipe it down with a dry towel or with some vinegar and it will disappear.
I have found jars to be cheapest at Smart and Final. If you are looking to order online, I use Fillmore Container. The shipping is kinda steep but they have the stuff I like.
Use your cucumbers when they are as fresh as possible! It makes them crispier. I also use calcium chloride to assist with the crispness. You can find that in the grocery store in the canning section.