Saturday, August 8, 2015

Classics: Dill Pickles

I posted a picture on Facebook of the enormous bag of cucumbers that I bought at the Farmers Market this past Tuesday.  I think it was a bushel.
Every summer, my one canning project is making dill pickles using the same recipe my mom uses.  It's simple and forgiving.  I'm not really sure why I started, but I know it was after J and I got married, but I've done it every summer since; even the summer we moved. J is obviously a fan, or I wouldn't bother with something this time consuming that only I eat.  I also make these as Christmas gifts, so buying 23 lbs of baby cucumbers might not seem so crazy.
That's right.  23 pounds.  No one needs that many cucmbers.  I ended up having a friend take some.
One thing that that picture on Facebook did was have a whole bunch of my friends ask if the pickles are crunchy (I think so), and would I share the recipe (yes).
I present to you now from the Mary Moore Cookbook Dill Pickles:

8-1/2 lbs small, fresh cucumbers
13 c water
3/4 c non-iodized salt
3-3/4 c vinegar
6 Tbsp non-iodized salt
2 Tbsp sugar
6-3/4 c water
1 Tbsp pickling spice
1/4 tsp whole mustard seeds, per pint jar
1 clove garlic, sliced, per pint jar
3 heads dill blossoms, per pint jar

1.  Combine the first amount of water and salt in a large, non aluminum container.  Clean cucumbers and add to cold brine.  Cover container and let set overnight.
2.  In the morning, drain cucumbers.  In a large pot, combine second amount of salt, water, sugar, vinegar, and the pickling spice (tied in a thin cloth).  Bring syrup to a boil and let simmer.
3.  Sterilize bottles and lids.  Pack cucumbers in hot jars, adding mustard seeds, garlic and dill flowers as needed.  Cover with vinegar mixture within 1/2" of the top of the jar.
4.  Seal and process in boiling water for 20 minutes, with water within 2" of the tops of the jars.  Remove from water bath and let cool, tightening lids in an upright position. 
 From the Mary Moore Cookbook

J has this huge Tupperware container.  It's used once a year to brine cucumbers.  Then I wash it and it goes back to the basement.  It is also large enough to hold a double batch of cucumbers and their brine.  Some years I rinse the cucumbers before packing them, sometimes I don't.  I don't know.  They're salty either way.
I have taken to cutting the large dill blossoms into smaller pieces so they don't take up most of the bottle - you know, so it's more syrup than pickles.  As I use more and more cucumbers, I become all about saving space,  I've also taken to slicing the cucumbers into rounds.  I put a layer of cucumbers in the bottom of the bottle, then some dill, some garlic, more cucumbers, the mustard seeds and more dill, and then cram the bottle full of cucumbers before adding syrup and sealing.
I have a crushed aluminum pie plate the I put in the bottom of my Dutch Oven to process.  I did a little research about not having the bottles covered with water for processing, and I now can't find the info I found.  The long and the short of it is that this recipe is safe to not have the pickles fully immersed.  This is also the one day a year I use my silicone oven mitt and reach straight into the boiling water to pull out bottles and let them stand on a towel on the counter to cool.
Don't these look yummy?  These were - the wall in the background indicates that I took this picture in my last house, but they all look the same.  Delicious.

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