Last week I did a pickling workshop at Darrol Henry’s school. I taught the kids how to make dill pickles, and it was such a blast!
Of course, you don’t need any toddlers to make this recipe. And the recipe below is for a regular sized batch of refrigerator dill pickles – about three pints worth. If you’re doing a workshop, you can just scale up the recipe to make enough for however many kids you’ll have.
In case you are wondering how to make dill pickles with kids, though, I thought I’d share how this workshop went down. The kids so much fun!
How to Make Dill Pickles with Toddlers
I wanted to keep things simple, so I adapted my pickle recipe from Okra Day to be slightly more kid-friendly. Since I was going to have limited time to work with the kids and didn’t want them to get bored, this was structured a little bit differently from my usual pickling demo.
With this class, we broke the kids up into groups of six to eight, and there was a teacher present to help wrangle the kids. The youngest class was the almost-twos, and there were three of them at school that day. You’d think that the group of eight would have been toughest, but getting those younguns to focus was super tough. Especially since Darrol Henry was one of them, and he kept trying to climb over all of the pickling things to get hugs from mommy.
I’d definitely recommend doing small groups and having a teacher present to manage the kids. A smaller group and a little help means you can focus on keeping the kids engaged.
If you want to teach your own kids how to make dill pickles, here’s what I recommend:
- Bring a couple of clean jars. The school asked parents to bring jars for the kids, but there’s a pretty good chance one or two parents will have a hectic week and forget to stick a jar into their kids’ bags. Having jars for those couple of kids will mean the world to them and to their parents!
- Pre-chop your veggies. I chopped everything that required a knife beforehand. Darrol’s classmates are ages two to four, so handing them sharp knives was out of the question. I chopped my onions, dill, and carrots and peeled all of the garlic in advance.
- Salt your veggies. This really depends on your kids. This pickle recipe calls for salting your veggies and letting them soften for an hour. If you think your kids will be into salting, leaving, and coming back, by all means involve them! For a live workshop on a time budget, you’ll want to salt the veggies in advance. You can show how to salt and rinse, then pull a magical switcheroo, so they’ll have salted veggies to put in the jars.
- Use a garlic press. Seriously. A garlic press is inexpensive, and kids think that it’s super fun. They were arguing over who would get to press the garlic!
- Give the jobs names. Don’t ask for a volunteer to scoop the dill or press the garlic. Say that you need A Dill Scooper and two Garlic Pressers. This was a last-minute thought, but the kids ate it up. It was sweet to see them so enthused about scooping onion into a pot.
- Give every kid a job. They’ll be much more engaged. You can always stretch things out. For a group of six, I had: a Dill Scooper, two Garlic Pressers, an Onion Scooper, and two Vinegar Pourers. Everyone got a chance to stir the pot of brine. With eight kids, I added another Vinegar Pourer and another Garlic Presser. An extra clove of garlic never hurt any dill pickle recipe!
How to Make Dill Pickles
For the preschoolers, I made pickled carrots and green beans, but you can adapt this recipe to make dill pickles from basically any veggies that you want. Harder veggies, like cauliflower or carrots, need to be salted. Softer veggies like cucumbers don’t. Mix it up, and have fun with it!
Yield: about 3 pints
- 3 large carrots, cut into sticks that will fit into your jar
- 2 cups green beans, with the woody ends snapped off (the kids can help with this)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 3 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- Combine the carrots, green beans, and salt in a colander, and toss to combine it really well. Let the veggies sit for one hour, then drain and rinse well. Show the kids how the salted veggies look different from the raw ones!
- Meanwhile, combine the onion, vinegar, dill, and garlic right in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture on high until it comes to a boil, then simmer for just a couple of minutes, until the onions begin to soften. For the workshop, we didn’t heat the brine since we didn’t have a stove. The pickles come out crunchier this way, but they’re still nice and pickly.
- Divide the carrots and green beans between your jars, and ladel the vinegar mixture over them.
- Screw the caps onto your jars loosely, then tighten them when the jars have cooled to the touch. Let your dill pickles chill for 24 hours before serving. Use within 3-4 weeks.