The classic, irresistible pickle. It has a home on the side of every plate of any good sandwich. It's comfortably familiar. It has a satisfying intensity of both flavour and texture. And it's a vintage home canning favourite. The perfect homemade pickle for me has plenty of garlic and plenty of dill, and I like to can them various ways - sliced for sandwiches and burgers, cut into spears lengthwise for the side of the sandwich plate, and whole for easy hand-held snacks when you just want to sneak one from the pickle jar in the fridge. It's all good.
A few tips on canning pickles:
1. Try to make pickles as soon as possible after the cucumbers come off the plant or as soon as they're purchased. If you can't get to them right away, store them in the fridge to keep them as crisp as possible.
2. Don't skimp on the dill.
3. Two cloves of garlic is plenty. The longer you wait to eat your pickles, the stronger the flavour gets.
4. Garlic sometimes goes a bit blue when pickled. Don't panic. It's fine.
5. Weirdly shaped, gnarly pickles taste better than the straight ones. No, not really. I just think the ugly ones need love too.
To prepare, I washed my Mason jars in hot soapy water then boiled them in water for 10 minutes to sterilize. My jars cooled to room temperature on the kitchen counter until ready to fill. The seals and bands were brought to a boil in a medium saucepan then left in the hot water until ready to use.
Here's how I made them (using the cold pack method):
makes 8 500 ml/1 pint Mason jars
5 lbs pickling cucumbers
16 garlic cloves
a large bunch of dill
4 cups water
2 2/3 cups pickling vinegar
1/3 cup coarse salt
Each sterilized jar was filled with 2 garlic cloves and a few dill fronds. Then I packed my jars snugly with the cucumbers, starting with the larger ones and filling in the gaps with the smaller ones (cucumbers shrink during processing, so I pack as tightly as possible). In a medium saucepan, I made the brine by bringing the water, pickling vinegar and salt to a boil, dissolving the salt, then turned off the heat. I ladled the clear brine into my stuffed jars using a funnel, leaving a 1/2-inch of head space. I secured the seals in place with the bands to finger tight, then lowered my jars into the rack of my already-boiling water bath canning pot and processed for 10 minutes, timing from when it reaches a full boil again (don't over process or you'll get mushy pickles). I removed them to a tea towel on the kitchen counter to cool and form their seal. POP! Once fully cool, I transferred them to a cool dark place to pickle away until ready to eat (at least 4 weeks).
It's so hard to wait to eat these! Every year I end up popping one jar open early to get that garlic dill crunch! I have NO patience when it comes to such yumminess.