Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Garlic Dill Pickles - for 12 pints

This recipe is from Joel Johnson's mom, Debbie.  It makes crisp, crunchy dill pickles - sliced or whole!!

Helpful Utensils:
Ladle or Measuring Cup
Magnetic lid Lifter
Jar Lifter

3qt water
1qt apple cider vinegar
1 cup canning/pickling salt (or plain non-iodized)
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Pack jars while simmering.

12 pint jars, lids and rings
8-12 cucumbers (depending on size) well scrubbed
12 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced in half
fresh or dried dill heads - see note in recipe

Bring pickling liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer.

Bring water bath canner to a boil.  This recipe processes quickly, so I just used my biggest stock pot and worked in batches.

Wash jars and lids thoroughly.  Place jars in boiling canning-water for a few minutes to sterilize, then remove to a thick towel to cool.  Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, turn off, and place lids in the water to sterilize and remain clean.

For dill - Dill flowers are not as strongly flavored as dill seeds.  If you have flowering heads, use about 1 whole head per jar.  If your dill heads have already gone to seed, break off about 4 small seed-stalks per jar.

Slice your cucumbers (see below for whole pickle instructions) and be sure to discard the stalk and flowering ends.

Place a few slices of cucumber on the bottom of a jar.  Add 1/2 the dill and 1/2 a piece of garlic (if you are using 1 whole head, try to tuck it down the side of the jar - it's pretty!)  Fill the jar to the bottom of the threads with cucumber slices.  Try to alternate the slices so they are not stuck together in stacks - there needs to be room for the liquid to circulate.   Add the other 1/2 of the garlic and dill on top.

Use the funnel and a ladle to add simmering pickling liquid to the jar.  Fill to about 1/2 way up the threads - leaving around 1/2" headspace.  Be sure the cucumbers are under the liquid - remove a slice or 2 if necessary.

Use a wooden spoon handle, chopstick, or other long thin utensil to slide up and down around the inside of the jar to remove bubbles stuck between the slices.  Press the cucumbers down to push them under the liquid again.

Wipe the rim with a hot, wet washcloth, place a hot lid on top, and tighten the ring finger-tight.  Do not over tighten.

Place jars (as many as you can fit) into the boiling water canner.  Once water has returned to a rolling boil, time for 5 minutes.  Use the jar lifter to remove jars to a thick, folded towel or a cooling rack.  Be sure the jars are not touching, and will not get splashed by water, or need to be moved for 12 hours.  After 12 hours, check for seal by tapping the top with a spoon or your fingernail - it should have a high pitched ring, not a dull thud.  The top should be flexed down toward the jar, and should not move when pressed.  Any un-sealed jars can be re-processed within 24 hours, or just keep them in the fridge.

Pickles should be allowed to cure for 8 weeks or longer before eating.  Mark the lid with process date and earliest opening date.

For Whole Pickles:
Follow the recipe exactly, except the whole pickles must be first soaked in ice water for a minimum of 2 hours, and up to 8 hours.  Be sure to trim off both ends (the stem is tough, and the blossom end can harbor bacteria)

NOTE - The USDA recommends processing pickles for 15 minutes.  This original recipe states 5 minutes only.  Personally, I feel confident that the amount of vinegar and salt will preserve the pickles and make them safe to eat - the processing is only to make the jar air-tight enough to prevent new bacteria from entering the jar.  If you process for 15 minutes, the pickles may or may not retain their crunch.  Proceed as your conscience dictates.

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