This years garden has been an amazing adventure in the hands off approach. My dear husband put the plants in the ground, laid out weed fabric and hay. Then he weeded out some rows once a few weeks after planting. Otherwise, we’ve just been to busy to do anything else until the last few weeks. And the last few weeks have been harvesting and processing green beans, zucchini, peppers, and now CUCUMBERS!
I say this with capital letters because it means, PICKLES! Also worthy of capital letters.
Today’s recipe is for Dill Pickles. We had a lot of different size cukes, so we are doing spears and sandwich slices.
We also have a mix of Boston picklers and lemon cucumbers. If you haven’t ever had a lemon cucumber, you need to find some. Just make sure they are small. Like the diameter of a quarter to half dollar, no more. And white to light yellow in color. Not dark yellow. They get very seedy and very bitter once the get any larger. But if you get them small and yellow, they are sweet and firm – great for pickles and eating fresh.
Here’s a link to a Maine seed company that we love. When we go to the MOFGA Common Grounds Fair in a few weeks they’ll have some wonderful displays.
This recipe yielded 8 quarts. We ended up with 4 jars of spears, 3 jars of slices and one jar of mixed. We don’t waste a pickle oppurtunity in this house.
Dill & Garlic Pickles
- 10 cups water
- 6 cup vinegar
- Lots of Fresh dill enough for a good 2 to 3 large fronds per jar
- 1 clove of fresh garlic, per jar- cut in half
- 2/3 cup Canning salt
- 4-6 Black peppercorns per jar
- 1/2 tsp alum per jar
- Optional – 1 tsp mustard seed per jar
- A big old bowl full of pickling cukes of your choice
So early in the day, is when you want to cut up your cucumbers. This is so you can ice bath them for a few hours before pickling them. It’s an old wives tip, to supposedly help keep the cukes crisp threw the canning process. We don’t know if it helps or not because we always do it. Better to be crisp, then soggy in our opinion.
I make sure to always use a nice sharp paring knife to cut up pickles. For sandwich slices, cut off the blossom end. Then just keep cutting slices in your desired thickness. I cut my slices fairly thick. I like the crunch.
When cutting spears, first cut off the blossoms and stem ends. Then, cut the cucumber in half lengthways. Now, placing the cucumber cut sides down on the board slice it in half, lengthways again. Take each of those quarters, and slice them in half lengthways one more time, leaving you with 8 spears.
To make the brine, simply grab your large pot and mix together the water, vinegar and canning salt. Get this to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally. This mixture doesn’t take long to boil so you want to get your quart jars, rims and lids cleaned and sanatized pretty quickly. Also, don’t forget to get your lids relaxed in some simmering water.
Now it’s time to take one of your nice warm, sanatized quart jars and pack it full.First goes in the dill, garlic halves, peppercorns and if you’re feeling plucky, the mustard seed. Now, pack those jars full of cucumber slices. And when you think you couldn’t possibly fit another, try anyway. Just don’t let any stick up above the fill line. It’s important that your brine cover the entire cucumber.
Once your jars are all packed full of your spices, herbs and cukes, it’s time for your pickle crimping agent. We use Alum, but I know other pickle crisps work just as well. We just have a readily available source of cheap alum.
Since Mr. Gillis and I can together, one of us fills the jars with pickles, while the other one fills it with brine, and covers it. If you were working by yourself, I would recommend filling your jars with all your spices and cuckes first and then doing your brine. But really, do what is comfortable for you. Pickling should be fun… Hot, sweaty, work-like fun, but fun.
Now that all your jars are filled with your cucumbers, brine and spices, and are all closed up, it’s time to process them in your hot water bath canner for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, pull the jars out, set them on a towel and leave them alone for 24 hours.
After your waiting period is over, if any of your lids didn’t seal, store in the fridge. Otherwise these pickles should sit for at least a month before eating, even tho that doesn’t stop my dad from digging right in.
There it is, our dill pickle recipe. It’s pretty simple, but we think that it really highlights the dill flavor.
With such a large cucumber harvest we’ve already done a bread and butter pickle, a sweet chili relish and these pickles. Tonight, we make a special recipe that we cannot take credit for. I’ve read that it’s an old French recipe… It is a lemon cucumber recipe but we’ve used regular picklers.
All I know is that it is a different, but delightful pickle. And it’s my next blog post- but you’ll have to wait till then to find out.
Until that time, have a wicked good day.