Summer has arrived, bringing with it my first crop of cucumbers. Two cukes to be exact! But that's enough for one jar of pickles. I'm hoping to get a glut so that I can pickle more than one jar at a time, but for now, this will have to do. Notice how the lettuce comes in all a once but the pickles in ones or twos!
Not wanting to buy too much fancy canning equipment, I tried to get by with as little new stuff as possible. I belief in reduce, reuse, recycle, and I'm a stingy git!
You do need the special jars and lids. I use wide mouthed quart (approximately 500ml or a pint) jars.
After nearly scalding my self a few times, I gave up trying to use BBQ tongs and sprung for the special "jar grabber" thingy-ma-jiggy. Good job I have a camera because I've no idea what these are called.
8 pounds 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
4 cups white vinegar
12 cups water
2/3 cup pickling salt (i.e. table salt will do as long as it is non-iodised though I did use iodised salt last year and got away with it!)
16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved.
8 sprigs fresh dill weed
8 heads fresh dill weed (the seed bit)
1. Wash the cucumbers. I slice mine but the original recipe didn't mention it. I guess if you use more smaller pickles - like when that glut happens - then you don't have to slice them.
2. For really crunchy pickles, soak them first in iced water for at least 2 hours (I'm impatient and have gone a lot less time and it seems okay) but no more than 8 hours, refreshing the ice if it melts.
3. Sterilize 8 quart canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. You can use this hot water again to process the jars, so don't throw it out.
4. Combine the vinegar, water and salt over medium heat and bring the brine to a rapid boil. Use it at this rapid boil to keep the pickles crisp.
5. Into each jar put 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, enough cucumbers to fill the jar, 2 more garlic halves and 1 spring of dill.
6. Fill the jars with hot brine and wipe the jar's rims of residue before sealing the jar.
7. Place the jars in a water bath so the water covers the jar and boil for 15 minutes.
8. Remove the jars from the water bath. As they cool and the air inside contracts the lids will depress. You can hear them pop. This is how you know you have a good seal.
9. Label the pickles with the date they were pickled and also the date they can be eaten - 8 week later.
10. After 8 weeks they are ready to eat. Refrigerate after opening. Unopened and stored in a cool dry place, pickles will keep for up to 2 years - but they taste sooo good they'll never last that long.
Be brave. Give it a go. You won't be sorry.