My grandma was known for her amazing dill pickles. Seriously. In college I would get so excited when she would give me a bottle. Or two. Yeah, that was a good day. They were delicious. Better than store bought. And I realize that in order to feel justified in doing all the work that it takes to can food, it either has to be cost effective or just plain delicious. Or both. And while I haven’t done the math to find out if canning pickles is cheaper than buying them, it is definitely worth it when it comes to taste. After consulting several family members (thank you!!), here’s my best interpretation of my grandma’s recipe:
To make 7 quarts/1 canning batch:
60 small, 50 medium or 35 large pickling cucumbers
7 garlic cloves
fresh or dried dill (stems and flowers)
7 teaspoons dill seeds (1 teaspoon per jar)
2 quarts cider vinegar
2 cups pickling salt (found in baking aisle)*
Tip: Soak cucumbers in ice water for 4 – 5 hours prior to pickling. It will crisp them up.
Before preparing pickles:
Fill canner half full with hot tap water. Heat on stove over high heat while preparing cucumbers.
Simmer lids covered in warm water over low heat.
Fill quart jars with hot water and let sit while preparing pickles.
In large pot make brine by bringing 6 quarts water and 2 quarts cider vinegar to a boil over high heat. Add pickling salt. Bring to boil again. Turn off heat.
Peel skins off garlic cloves.
Peel and slice onion.
Wash cucumbers and slice 1/16 inch off blossom end (since the blossom end harbors microbes that can cause softening). Empty hot water from jars. Drop 1 clove and 1 section of sliced onion in bottom of each jar. Fill each jar with two stems and one flower of dill. Add 1 teaspoon dill seeds to each jar. Snugly fit cucumbers into each jar. Fill each jar with brine to within 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Wipe jar rim with clean cloth. Place lids and bands on jars. Place jars in canner, making sure water comes up to the neck of the jars, no more. Return water to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes. Remove from canner and cool on wire rack covered with towel for 24 hours. Once cool, make sure each lid sealed by checking for indentation. Store in cool dry place. Pickles will be ready to eat in one month.
*Table salt can be used but it turns pickles dark and the pickling liquid cloudy.