Our little gardens are growing three things right now: pumpkins (nothing promising yet), tomatoes (slowly coming, tasting great so far), and cucumbers. The cucumbers by far have been the most productive. I had 12 pickling cucumbers in my fridge yesterday, with many more little ones on the vine, so I decided it was time to break out the ol’ Ball Introduction to Canning booklet that came with my little canning kit and look up “pickles”. Since we usually use pickles for hamburgers and sandwiches, I decided to go with the dill pickle recipe, but use little round slices instead of long slices. Here is what the recipe calls for:
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups water (use distilled or purified for taste)
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c pickling salt (not regular table salt!)
2 Tbsp Ball Pickling Spice
3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic
3 heads fresh dill
1 1/2 tsp of mustard seed
Ball Pickle Crisp granules
8 cups of pickling cucumbers, clean and sliced in 1/4″ slices
(These are basic instructions, not a lesson in canning) Wash jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water and set aside in a hot water bath (if you ladle hot brine into cold jars they will break). I ran mine in the dishwasher, so they were hot and ready to go. Place the 2 Tbsp of pickling spices in a cheesecloth (I used muslin) and tie into a bundle. Next, combine the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and spice bundle in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat but maintain a boil, boil for 15 minutes. While this is boiling, heat the water in your canning pot/stock pot to boiling. When the brine mixture is ready, fill the jars with 1 garlic clove, 1 dill head, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and tightly packed cucumber slices, and leave 1/2″ head space. Ladle hot brine over the cucumbers. Use a plastic spatula handle to remove excess bubbles of air, and top off with more brine, leave 1/2″ head space. Lid and finger tighten the rings. Place in boiling pot, cover and process for 10 minutes at a rapid boil (if you live in a high altitude area, you will have to look up time adjustments). Turn off heat and let sit covered for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and set on a towel or heat safe surface, and leave undisturbed for 12 hours. Check lids, and if any flex, refrigerate and consume within 6 months. The rest can be stored in a dark, cool area, out of direct light. This particular recipe did not specify, but other pickle canning recipes recommended waiting 2-6 weeks minimum before eating so the dill flavor can develop. One poster stated that eating the pickles too soon will taste like salty, vinegar cucmbers instead of a pickle flavor.
The recipe says it yields 3 pint jars, so I did go buy 1 dozen wide mouth pint canning jars when I bought the other needed ingredients, and I am so glad. My dozen cucumbers looked like 8 cups to me, but the 3 jars only held half the cucumber slices! I had to make a second batch of brine to do the rest of the slices. My house smells pungent like cider vinegar. Hope that does not last till our next house showing. I did however neglect to purchase mustard seed, so my dill pickles may taste a little differently than intended without it. Oh well! I guess I’ll find out in a couple of weeks when I open a jar to taste. Of course, I will come back and update.
On a side note, I had to buy the fresh dill, so I had to pay almost $3 for a little package of dill. Since I only used 6 heads for the pickles, I am trying something I read in Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food book. She recommends putting extra fresh herbs in ice cube trays with water and freezing for future use. We’ll see how well it turns out the next time I need some “fresh” dill…