I had a nice surprise when I stopped by Jessica’s Organic Farm yesterday!
For the very best pickles, you want to follow the old adage of “vine to brine in 24 hours.” So I quickly loaded up on 8 pounds of these little guys, quartered them, and got them soaking in a brine. This morning, I drained them and got to work. The following recipe makes a pretty good dill pickle. As long as you stick to the directions for the amount of salt and vinegar called for, you can safely play with the spices and even the sugar content in your own pickle adventure.
Directions for day one:
Wash the cucumbers and cut 1/16-inch off the blossom end of each one. The blossom end contains softening enzymes and could potentially harbor mold, neither of which make very good pickles.
If your cucumbers are smallish, you can leave them whole. You can also halve or quarter them; I quartered mine.
Dissolve 3/4 cup of pickling/canning salt in 2 gallons of water. Pour over the cucumbers and let them sit for 12 hours. This helps pull the moisture out of the cucumbers which means you get a crisper pickle. I used a big food-safe plastic bucket and a dinner plate to keep the cukes submerged. You can use anything that you have as long as it is not made of copper, brass, galvanized aluminum, or iron. Seriously. Copper and iron will make your pickles turn ugly colors and produce off flavors; galvanized aluminum plus vinegar can kill you. Keep this rule in mind for all stages of the pickling process, including the utensils you use.
8 pounds of brined and drained pickling cucumbers
6 cups of vinegar with 5% acidity (please do not use homemade here)
1/2 cup of pickling/canning salt
1/4 cup of sugar
2 quarts of water
2 T of whole mixed pickling spice tied in spice bag (I used Penzey’s)
whole mustard seed
peeled garlic cloves
Yield ~ 12 pints
(prepare two-piece canning lids according to manufacturer’s directions)
1) Combine vinegar, salt, sugar, and water. Add spice bag and bring to a boil.
2) Meanwhile, add 1 t mustard seed, 1 1/2 t dill seed, two peppercorns, and 1 garlic clove to each pint jar.
3) Fill jars with cucumbers and cover with boiling pickling liquid leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
4) Remove air bubbles and wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner for 10 minutes.
Since your cucumbers will vary in size, it’s smart to have a couple of quart jars out for the ones that are too long for pints. I ended up with 9 pints and 2 quarts from this recipe. For the quarts, I just doubled the garlic and spices that I added. Process those jars for 15 minutes.
You’re going to want to let these sit for four – six weeks or you’ll taste nothing but the vinegar. Enjoy!