Posted by Matty
This weekend, while at the McKinney Farmers Market, I was hypnotized by a vendor’s crate of pickling cucumbers. I’ve never pickled anything before, and to be honest, I like pickles, but I’m not c-r-a-z-y about ‘em. But Nancy is a pickle nut.
I did what had to be done, and a few dollars later, I was the proud owner of a bag of cukes.
Back at home, we had a bunch of mason jars, so I went to the grocery, and got some new lids, some vinegar, and some other odds and ends. A few hours later, we had more pickles than you can shake a stick at.
For posterity, here’s the recipe that I used.
Polish Dill Pickles
- 8 pounds 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 4 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup pickling salt
- 3 tablespoons mixed pickling spices. (You can also mix your own, with Celery Seed, Mustard seed, and anything else that sounds tasty.)
- 16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 8 heads fresh dill weed
- Wash cucumbers, and mix in 1/2 cup of pickling salt in a big bowl. Get ‘em coated in the salt. Lay a thin kitchen towel on top and cover with ice. Put in fridge for four hours. When finished, rinse and drain the cukes a couple of times to get rid of most of the salt.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, vinegar, water, and 1/2 cup of pickling salt. Tie spices into spice bag and add to vinegar mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Sterilize 8 (1 quart ) canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. The dishwasher on hot also works a treat here.
Get water boiling in the canning pot, which should have a screen of some sort on the bottom, so that the water can flow all around the jar. The water should be an inch or two over the height of the mason jar. You want the water to be around 180 degrees for canning. Even if you use the dishwasher to sterilize, put the jar and lid in for a few minutes to warm it up. This will help the sealing goodness to happen.
- In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, (for crisp, crunchy pickles, also add 1/2 tsp of Alum) then enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about 1 pound). Then add 2 more garlic halves, and 1 sprig of dill. For some heat, you can also add a red pepper or two, pepper flakes, Tabasco sauce, or anything else that strikes your fancy.
- Fill jars with hot brine, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Try to get rid of any air bubbles that might be hiding between the pickles. Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar’s rims of any residue. After tightening the lid, unscrew the lid a little. Maybe an eighth of a turn. this will allow the remaining air to escape in the bath.
- Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes. After pulling them out, tighten the lid down the rest of the way. As they cool, the lid should suck down, making a good seal.
- Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.
If you want to do fridge pickles, buy the packet at the store. Then you’re done in 30 minutes and can try out the pickles as soon as they’re cold. The downside is that these will only last a couple of months, and you have to store them in the fridge. The upside? No sealing necessary.