I’ve made lots of pickles. I’ve tried all sorts of recipes, but I end up going back to this one. It says ‘2 Day’ in the title, because there is an important step included that I think makes a difference in the quality of the pickles. Before you do any canning, you put the cucumbers in large crock, or stainless steel pot, and chill them down with water and ice, and salt for half a day. If you can’t do the presoak, I find that making pickles with the freshest cukes you can get is the best way to have good tasting crisp results. Get nice firm ones, not too over ripe, maybe with a little texture on them still. Different sizes are good, so you have some for pints, and some for quarts, and some for spears and some for slices.
Gravel Road Farm Dill Pickles, 2 Day
(Adapted From Balls Complete Book of Home Preserving)
8-10 pounds cucumbers (trim the ends, or not)
16 ice cubes
1 1/4 cups canning salt
6 cups apple cider vinegar (or you can use white)
12 cups water
2 tbsp pickling spice (I make my own, but anyone can buy this at a grocery)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (don’t skip this ingredient)
7 tsp. mustard seeds (red or yellow both are good)
10 fresh dill heads, or 7 tbsp chopped dill weed (I use a combo)
14 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
This recipe will yield approximately 7 quarts or 14 pints
1. In a large clean crock, glass or stainless steel container, layer cucumbers and ice.
2. In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of the pickling salt in 4 cups of the water. Pour over the cucumbers and add cold water to cover the cucumbers, if necessary. Place a large clean inverted plate in on top of the cucumbers and weigh down with two or three quart jars, filled with water and capped. Refrigerate, or let stand in a a cool place) for at least 6 hours, but no more than 12 hours.
1. Prepare canner, jars and lids: Wash jars, lids and rings with HOT soapy water, rinse and put jars and lids in large canning pot. Fill pot with water half way up if you are using quart jars and turn heat on to medium. (Do you have hard water? Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the canning water to prevent sediment on the outside of your jars.) Let the jars simmer, you will want them relatively hot when you fill them with cucumbers, and the hot liquid.
2. Tie pickling spice in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.
3. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine remaining 8 cups of water, vinegar, remaining 3/4 cups pickling salt, sugar and spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently for 15 minutes, until spices have infused the liquid.
4. Transfer cucumbers to a colander placed over a sink and drain. Rinse with cool running water and drain thoroughly. Slice, or spear, or leave them whole, then pack cucumbers in jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Add 1 tsp of mustard seeds, 1 fresh dill head, or 1 tbsp of chopped dill, and 1-2 cloves of garlic into each hot jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into each hot jar to cover cucumbers leaving 1/2 inch head space, if necessary, by adding more hot pickling liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes for pints, 15 minutes for quarts. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.
6. Don’t forget to label your jars! Very important step so you can keep track of what you made. I often will write the item, date, recipe book, page, or other info so that I can remember what recipe did well. My last piece of advice is to start a canning notebook. I bought a bunch of notebooks at the end of summer a few years ago to keep track of things on the homestead, like one for my sheep, one of my bees, etc. I tape recipes into it, where I bought produce, and note how fresh it was. Sometimes there is just a date and the item I canned. Whatever you make, I hope it turns out great, and best of luck with your canning.