pickled + preserved

addictive homemade dill pickles

fitting-pickles-in-canning-jar

Pickles and I go way back. I remember as a young kid asking my mom for the huge gallon jar of whole dill pickles and eating them by the bowl full. They have always been one of my favorite snacks. And I may or may not still request pickles from her (and now even my mother-in-law). This past Christmas, my mom even got me a “pickle snatcher” (a helpful tool to get the pickles at the bottom of a big ole jar).

As much as I love them, I am picky about my pickles. My pickle of choice, dill pickles. I don’t do any other kind, not the sweet, nor the bread and butter. Unfortunately, those were the only types that both of my grandmas made. I had never eaten a homemade dill pickle, until now.

canned-dill-pickles

We have been blessed with a healthy crop of ‘Boston Pickling’ cucumbers this summer. So much so, that it has been more than we were ready for. Sadly, our compost has enjoyed quite a few of them. Though, now that we have canned 9 jars, I can’t get enough. I have been eyeing the vine for more pickle babies. Then I wouldn’t have to hold back from devouring.

first-day-eating-pickles

Pickling cucumbers was surprisingly easy and rather fast. After a day of errands and giving our all to the garden, we decided to try our hand at making our very own dill pickles. Last year, we pickled jalapenos, so we weren’t total strangers to the process. We found a great recipe that works for both canned and refrigerator dill pickles. There we were, 9:00 and ready to get started. Here’s how it went down in the Ball kitchen….

ingredients-for-canning-dill-pickles

Homemade dill pickles

What you’ll need:
(Quantities of cucumber may very so we decided to give list ingredients per jar )

3  pint size mason jars (wide mouth)
2-3 pounds cucumbers (washed and cut the way you like)
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons of pickling salt or 2 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt
6 garlic cloves (2 per jar)
fresh dill (2-3 sprigs per jar)
1/4 teaspoons per jar red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoons per jar whole black peppercorns
 
Before doing anything else look each jar over making sure there are no cracks, nicks, warped edges, etc that might cause it to break or  prevent it from sealing.  Check out the lids too. (We even  found a couple that couldn’t be used, for canning at least.) When you are canning (versus refrigerator pickles) you want to heat the jars (not lids) before using them. Place them in a pot with hot water and let them simmer, not boil, until you are ready to load ’em up.

With my cucumbers washed and sliced, I started in on making the brine.

cut-cucumbers-for-pickling

set-for-canning-pickles
In a saucepan combine the water, vinegar, and salt to create a brine. Once this is brought to a simmer, it’s ready to use.

I stuffed as many sliced cucumbers as I could into our mason jars. Then, added the garlic and dill to the jar and finally topped it off with red pepper flakes and black peppercorns.

red-pepper-in-dill-pickles

Once the jars were filled with all the ingredients and the brine was heated and simmering, we poured the brine into the jars filling each jar to ½ inch from the top.

filling-canning-jars-with-vinegar-and-water-mix
Using this handy tool that came in a canning kit we recently picked up, we broke up any air bubbles and were able to settle the cucumbers and all the ingredients in the jar. If more room is created fill the jar with more brine.

fitting-pickles-in-canning-jar
If you don’t have this sweet tool (or a make shift one), they suggest tapping the jar against the counter to eliminate any air bubbles.

After we wiped the rims dry to assure the jars seal, we placed the lid on the jars and tightened the ring until finger tight. At this point, you have two options: placing them in the refrigerator for 48 hours to let them marinate, or putting them through a hot water bath for instant pickle goodness that will last for a year on the shelf. If you decide to go the refrigerator route, your pickles will last 2-3 weeks.

simmering-dill-pickles
We processed all but two jars in the hot water bath. In a large pot, we added enough water to cover the jars and brought it to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, we started the clock and removed the jars after 10 minutes.

One by one, we set the jars out and let them cool to room temperature and waited for the lids to pop! If you don’t hear the jar pop and seal after cooling, store it in the refrigerator and eat them first.

home-canned-dill-pickles
I hope you enjoy as much as I have- I find myself in the pickle jar every couple hours. Let me leave you with this…. “Now that’s the best tasting pickle I ever heard.

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