Monday, September 26, 2011

Canning Cucumbers, Part Two: Dill Pickle Spears

I may not be too fond of sweet pickles, but I love a good dill pickle. There are a variety of ways to make dill pickles -- fresh pack, brined, cooked, canned, refrigerated, lacto-fermented. For my foray into pickle making, I decided to try a simple fresh pack recipe.

Although this recipe doesn't produce the crisp dill pickles I like most (I'm determined to make this recipe next year), they are still delicious and work well in a variety of recipes and on a hamburger or in a sandwich.

Fresh Pack Dill Pickles - from The Ball Blue Book of Preserving

Yield: about 7 pints or 3 quarts

8 lbs. 4- to 6-inch cucumbers, cut lengthwise into halves (we cut ours into quarters)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canning salt (can be found in the canning section in your local grocery store)
1 quart vinegar
1 quart water
3 tablespoons mixed pickling spices (also can be found in the canning section)
Green or dry dill (1 head per jar)
Cheesecloth and kitchen string or a store bought spice bag (For instructions on how to make a spice bag, check out this link -- it's really easy.)

Wash cucumbers; drain. Combine sugar, salt, vinegar, and water in a large saucepot. Tie spices in a spice bag; add spice bag to vinegar mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pack cucumbers into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Put one head of dill in each jar.

For those who are wondering what a head of dill looks like, there it is. The head is made of up the flower at the top of the plant, the part with several stems and little buds at the ends. These heads of dill came from my mom's garden, but you can also buy it in the produce section, by the packaged fresh herbs). You can also use dried heads of dill. (After a little research, I've learned that you can can substitute 1 Tablespoon of dried dill seed for 1 head of fresh dill.)

Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by running a rubber spatula around the inside of the jar, between the cucumbers and the glass. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints and quarts 15 minutes (be sure to adjust for altitude, if necessary) in a boiling-water canner. 

Allow 4-6 weeks for these pickles to cure and develop the best flavor.

Have you ever made pickles? What's your favorite kind -- to eat and/or make?  Any recipes/links I should know about?

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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