I LOVE a good dill pickle. And after making them homemade, the store-bought ones are often second-rate. But I've read that many people have trouble making their pickles have the taste and the texture they are looking for. I have now successfully made PERFECT PICKLES twice, and I want to share what I did so you can enjoy the dilly, salty, crisp goodness yourself!
The secret is in the method. Pickles can become soggy if they cook too long in the brine. But you want the jars to cook enough to seal correctly and safely for preservation of the food. I will share the method that has worked for me. More information on safe pickling procedures can be found here: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can6b_pickle.html.
I started with this mess of cukes from Bountiful Baskets. They were ripe and ready for pickling. They were too big to pickle whole, so I decided to do spears and slices.
1. First, prepare your pickling brine: 8 1/2 cups water, 2 1/4 cups white vinegar, 1/2 cup pickling salt. Bring brine to a full boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Second, prepare your cucumbers. I sliced mine lengthwise into sixths for spears, and into about 1/4" slices.
3. HERBS: One thing I LOVE about this recipe is the simplicity of the ingredients. You'll need fresh dill, fresh garlic, and fresh parsley (optional).
4. In each sterilized quart-size jars, place a clove of garlic, and 1 sprig each of parsley and dill.
5. Now, STUFF the pickles into the jar. Spears should stand up and and have seeds turned inward as much as you can. Finish each jar with another sprig of dill, parsley, and garlic clove.
6. Prepare your water bath canner by filling about halfway with water. Bring to a low simmer.
7. Pour brine into filled jars, leaving 1/4" of headspace. You may need to tap the jars gently on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles and make room for more brine.
8. Wipe rims and place sterilized seals and rings (tightened just slightly) on the jars.
9. Place the jars into the simmering water, making sure the water only comes to the neck of the jars. Process pickles for 15 minutes, beginning timer as soon as you place them in the water. Avoid letting water reach a rolling boil, but keep it simmering. This will seal the jars, but won't cook the heck out of the pickles.
10. Remove jars and cover with a towel as they cool. Listen for the glorious POP that lets you know they have sealed. Wait at least 3 weeks to enjoy your pickles. The "pickling" happens as the cucumbers sit in the brine and soak in all the yummy flavors, so don't cheat and open them early. We had to put a countdown calendar up in our house so the kids would know when they could dig in!
Perfect Dill Pickles
Makes 7 quarts
8 1/2 cups water
2 1/4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt
Picking Cucumbers (30-40 medium or 10 lbs), washed and cut into slices or spears
Fresh parsley (optional)
1. Prepare your brine by boiling water, vinegar, and salt, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In the bottom of each sterilized quart-size jar, place a sprig of dill and parsley, and one peeled garlic clove. Fill the jars with cucumber slices or spears, turning spears seed-side in if possible. Finish with another sprig of dill, parsley, and a garlic clove.
3. Fill water bath canner about half-way with water and bring to a simmer on the stove.
4. Use a funnel to pour brine into the stuffed jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, and top with sterilized lids and rings.
5. Place jars in water bath, making sure the water reaches just to the top of the neck of the jars. Process in water bath for 15 minutes, avoiding a rolling boil, but maintaining a simmer.
6. Remove jars from water bath and cool on the counter, covering cans with a dish towel. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 3-4 weeks before opening.
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