‘Pickle Princess’ wins big at the State Fair

Elk River woman’s dill pickles, pickled vegetables capture Gedney contests

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
Just five years after canning her first pickle, Teresa Craig has won big at the Minnesota State Fair.
Craig, of Elk River, captured two blue ribbons in the Gedney Foods Contest. One was for the best dill pickle recipe and the other for the best vegetable, which was a cucumber, carrot and radish mixture with a Thai seasoning that Craig developed.

Teresa Craig is pictured by the winning Gedney contest entries.

She received a $150 prize for each winner and there’s a chance that her pickles could be featured in Gedney’s State Fair product line.
Craig also won ribbons in several other State Fair canning categories, including:
•Pickled sweet peppers, 1st (see recipe below)
•Dill pickles with garlic but no other vegetable or spices, 2nd
•Cucumber relish, 2nd
•Tomato mixture, Minnesota style, 4th
•Mild picante or salsa relish, 5th
Her prize-winning entries are all on display through Labor Day in the State Fair’s Creative Activities building.
Craig jokingly refers to herself as the “Pickle Princess.”

Teresa Craig won several ribbons at the Minnesota State Fair, including two first in the Gedney Foods Contest. Pictured here are her award-winning dill pickles.

This is her third year competing at the State Fair. She also won a Gedney first prize in 2015 for her pickle relish. In 2016, her bread and butter pickles placed second in one of the fair canning contests.
Craig taught herself to make pickles after getting her first canner at the age of 30. Now she develops her own recipes.
She said one of her secrets is to add a grape leaf to each jar of pickles to make them crisper. She also recommends using fresh ingredients.
Craig has been inspired by her grandmother, who made her own pickles.
“They were so good,” Craig said.
Craig would like to leave a similar legacy to her children, Ryland, 3, and Oren, 7 months. She hopes that they will someday have fond memories of her canned goods.
She also makes pickles for practical reasons. Craig said she hates to waste any of the garden produce that she grows, and canning it is one way to preserve it for later use. She began gardening in earnest after moving to Elk River from Shakopee seven years ago.
Craig said when it comes to pickling, she’s still learning.
“It’s hard work. I fail a lot. There’s plenty of disasters in my kitchen,” she said.
She once had a jar of pickles explode in the canner after she filled it too full. Another time her pickles turned to mush when she cooked them too long.
Still, she described it as a labor of love.
This year she has already canned about 190 jars of pickles and other pickled vegetables, despite working full time and having a busy family life. Ironically, her husband, Lee, doesn’t like pickles. She gives a lot of her pickles away as gifts.
Some day she hopes to share what she has learned by teaching others how to make pickles, adding, “I think it’s a dying art.”

Teresa Craig’s Award-Winning Pickled Sweet Peppers
4 pounds of sweet peppers (Hungarian, Sweet Cherry or Gypsy work best)
3 cups vinegar (5 percent)

2 cups water
4 teaspoons canning salt
1 -1/2 cups sugar
Yield: About 6 pints
1. Wash and rinse pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids and bands according to manufacturer’s directions.
2. Wash peppers well and remove stem end; slice peppers into 1/4-inch thick rings OR can leave whole (if leaving whole, you have to stab the ends with a knife). In a four-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt; heat to boiling.
3. Fill pepper rings into jars.
4. Cover pepper rings with boiling hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids.
5. Process pints in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
(Note: This is one of the first recipes Teresa Craig created. The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to eight weeks if you don’t want to can them.)