Dill Pickles (with an optional Kick!)

picklesToday Diane, Nancy and Jamie joined me for a the Preservation Class I offer CSA members. As we snapped the ends off of beans and filled jars with them, Nancy commented on how satisfying it was to preserve food in the company of others. We could have been in a persuasive commercial for establishing a Community Kitchen that would facilitate enjoyable ways for people to work side by side preparing food for their families…
After setting the green beans to cook away in the pressure canner we started stuffing cucumbers into quart jars. This classic recipe makes enough for 8 quarts. I recommend you use wide-mouthed jars for easier inserting of cucumbers and removal of pickles later.
Direction for 8 quartskettle
10 pounds small pickling cucumbers
7 cups white vinegar
7 cups water
7 Tbsp. pickling salt
12 heads fresh dill or 4 Tbsp dill seeds
10-12 small cloves garlic
dried jalepeno or cayenne peppers
grape leaves (optional)
1. Get the water heating up in your water bath canner.
2. Heat vinegar, water and pickling salt in a large kettle and bring to a simmer.
3. Meanwhile toss the following into clean jars that have been sitting in hot water: a couple cloves of garlic, a sprig of fresh dill, and a dried cayenne or jalepeno pepper (or part of one, or omit this if your rather skip the kick). Add one or two grape leaves to help pickles retain their crunchiness quotient. I’m trying this for the first time this year, and will let you know if I think it makes a difference!
4. Stuff the jar with cucumbers. (I prefer whole ones because I want my pickles as crunchy as possible, but I’ve been known to cut some in half or quarters to more adequately fill my jar).
5. Fill jars with the hot water/vinegar solution, leaving a 1/2-1 inch head space. Jiggle to remove bubbles, wipe rim and screw on the lid, tightening securely, but not overly so.
6. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.
7. Remove from water bath and cool on counter for 24 hours. Enjoy the popping sound the lids make as they seal. After 24 hours, check the jars to be sure they are sealed (keep any that didn’t in the refrigerator to be eaten first), remove the rings, and store your pickles.  For maximum flavor let your pickles cure for a couple of weeks before you start consuming them.


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