My 16 year old loves pickles. He'll put a heap of 'em on a hamburger or eat them straight out of the jar.
When my mom gave him a jar of her canned dill pickles, he looked at me with those sweet hazel eyes of his...
Mom, can we make some pickles?
Sure! I said.
Thanks to a sweet gift from Debby, from A Feast for the Eyes, I had my canning supplies on hand! Thanks, Debby! This method uses water bath canning, which is so easy to do ....
The ingredients were surprisingly simple and my mom was happy to donate:
"Cukes" (cucumbers) from her back yard garden.
Some fresh dill. Very fragrant...also from the garden.
Pickling Salt. It's not your ordinary salt.
And the Heinz pickling recipe booklet.
All I needed was some white vinegar. 5% acidity.
It is important to bottle foods at their peak. Cukes don't wait.
These are pickling cukes.
The next morning, I washed and weighed a little more than 4 pounds of cukes.
Before slicing, it is important to cut about 1/8" off both ends of the cukes.
I dug up my cheapo mandolin slicer that only has a waffle blade (that's why it was on clearance!).
Sliced them into 1/8" slices. Pretty!
Put all the slices into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, I dissolved 1/2 c. of pickling salt with 4 cups of water.
Poured the salt/water on top of the cukes.
Put a dinner plate almost as large as the bowl on top...
and weighted it down with my humongous jar of vinegar.
The recipe suggests a large jar filled with water~ you can use anything that comes to mind....
Let the cukes brine for 2 hours.
In a large sauce pot, I combined 2 3/4 c. vinegar, 3 c. water and 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and split in half.
I keep my garlic whole, double bagged, in the freezer. Over time, they will become stronger, but I love having fresh garlic on hand!
Heat this to a boiling.
Removed garlic and put 4 halves into each of the 5 clean bottling jars.
Added 2 heads of fresh dill and 4 peppercorns to each jar.
*tip* put 'head' side down.
Now close your eyes and pretend that I have a picture of draining the cukes, rinsing, and draining again.
Put the rinsed and drained cukes into the hot vinegar mixture.
Heat to just boiling.
Put on simmer while packing the jars.
Close your eyes again and pretend that I have a picture of a jar that has a funnel on top. A funnel really helps make getting the slices in easier~ Also, tongs don't work. Use a ladle.
Put as many pickles as you can into each jar and fill with the hot vinegar solution.
Fill to within 1/2" of the top, making sure the vinegar covers the cukes.
One last time, since I don't have a standby photographer, imagine the following:
A saucepan with lids and rings on the stove that have simmered for at least 10 min.
Wiping the rims of the jars clean with a damp paper towel.
Taking a hot lid with a magnetized lid lifter and putting it on the clean jar.
Screwing on a hot ring (band) until it is firm and snug...not fingertip tight.
While I was putting on the lids and bands, I had my water bath canner filled half with simmering, not boiling water.
I used my jar-lifter to immediately place each jar in the water.
Filled the canner with more hot water, 1-2" above the jars.
Covered the water bath canner, put the heat on med-high, until it came to a rolling boil.
Began timing. Recipe calls for 5 min. At my altitude (5-6,000 feet), I added 5 minutes.
Keep the water boiling during the entire processing time.
Turn off heat.
Use jar lifter and a towel in the other hand (to catch hot water drips), place each jar on a heat safe cutting board that is covered with a towel.
Leave 1-2" of space between each jar while it is cooling.
Put a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign by the pickles.
Let cool for 12-24 hours before checking for a seal. You should hear the lovely 'pings' each jar makes. When jar is cool, you can push the center of the lid. If it does not flex, it is sealed.
I use a sharpie pen to date the lids, as they will not be reused.
These will be ready to eat in 4-6 weeks.
This was a lot easier than I imagined...I wished I had done more than 5 pints!
My 16 year old can't wait!