Backyard gardening is a great way to have fresh fruits and vegetables almost all-year round. But what to you do when you have a good season and yield a harvest that is more than you can consume? Pickling is one way to preserve some of your excess fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers are plentiful in the summer and can be enjoyed throughout the year by turning then into pickles and adding dill as extra flavoring. Below is a recipe on how to preserve dill pickles.
- If you are new to canning you need a canning pot, four one-pint canning jars, lids and rings, bottle tongs, and jar funnel. For the ingredients you will need cucumbers, vinegar, dill, pickling salt and garlic.
- Sterilize the caps and rings and then the canning bottles as well as the tongs and funnel that you will use. Follow the instructions on how to sterilize the canning jars.
- In a large saucepan mix two cups of water, two cups of white vinegar and two tablespoons of pickling salt. Pickling salt is table salt without iodide. Turn the heat on high and allow the brine to boil.
- Use eight to ten fresh cucumbers, about two inches in diameter and four inches long. This will fit pint canning jars, with the ends cut off. Use those that are very green and still have plenty of bumps so that you will have crisp pickles. Wash the cucumbers and cut the ends before slicing them into quarters. Peel four large cloves of garlic and slice them in half. Cutting the ends of the cucumbers will ensure that they will fit the jars with room to spare on top.
- Remove canning jars from the sterilizing bath. Place one head of dill flowers and two slices of garlic at the bottom of each jar and arrange the cucumber slices inside the jars, standing up. Make sure that you pack the jars with the cucumber slices tightly so the spears will not float.
- Slowly fill the jars with the still-hot brine. You can use a jar funnel to avoid spilling the brine. Fill the jar almost to the top but leave at least one-fourth to one-half inch of space over the tops of the cucumber spears.
- Insert a flat spatula or a butter knife between the side of the jars and the cucumber spears and press the spears together to release air that may have been trapped in between the slices. Fill the jar with more brine if the solution becomes lower after you have inserted a spatula.
- Wipe the rims of the canning jar with a clean, damp cloth. Place the lids and the rings on the jars and finger-tighten them. Fold a towel and place that in the bottom of the canning pot before putting water. This will help the jars to stay upright. Bring the water to a boil before arranging the jars inside. Arrange the canning jars and allow the water to boil for another ten minutes. Remove the jars from the pot after the prescribed boiling time and place them on a counter and allow them to cool down to room temperature.
You will hear the lid pop once you have removed the jars from the boiling water after a few minutes. This indicates that the lids are properly sealed. If there are lids that move up and down when pushed this indicates that they have not sealed correctly. You should put these jars into the refrigerator. The flavors of the dill pickles will come together after four to eight weeks.