Dill Pickles ~ Flavours of Childhood
I have the fondest memories of going to a farm in the Holland Marsh every summer and picking cucumbers and tomatoes to put up with my mom. My mom didn’t make a ton of different things but what she did make she made well and lots of it. Our cold room at the bottom of the stairs, with its one bulb light you turned on by pulling a string, was home to rows and rows of neatly lined jars of her hard work. Peaches, pears, stewed tomatoes, dill pickles, and corn relish filled the shelves and maybe the occasional jar of strawberry jam.
I think a lot of us can agree that certain flavours or foods will evoke special memories. And, that’s precisely how I feel about dill pickles and stewed tomatoes. I remember filling my little basket on those hot summer days with my mom and then trying to lend a helpful hand in the kitchen as she patiently went about making those little cukes into our favorite dill pickles.
MY MOM’S RECIPE FOR DILL PICKLES:
- 9lbs pickling cukes (there are about 47-48lbs of cukes per bushel)
- 6 cups white vinegar
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup pickling salt
- 14 cloves garlic, sliced in half (2 whole cloves or 4 sliced cloves per jar)
- 7 tsp dill seed (1 tsp per jar)
- 3 1/2 tsp black pepper corns (1/2 tsp per jar)
- 3-4 sprigs fresh dill head and/or dill weed per jar (use the large head or multiple seperate sprigs)
- Wash cucumbers well and scrub to remove dirt using a soft scrub brush.
- Remove blossom end with a sharp knife (it’s the opposite end from the stem but you can remove both if you’re unsure)
- Roughly divide washed cucumbers in half and place in two coolers with lots of ice and water to cover. Note: we also add salt to the ice water to help draw out the moisture in the cucumbers which will make the end product more crisp. The ratio is 1 cup pickling salt to 8 cups water.
- Prepare for water bath canning.
- Rinse cucumbers well. If you are doing an entire bushel separate cucumbers into batches weighing 9lbs each.
- In a large stainless steel saucepan combine water, vinegar, and salt (above recipe will make the brine for 9lbs of cucumbers). Bring to a boil.
- To each sterilized jar add black peppercorns, dill seed, fresh dill, and garlic.
- Add boiling brine leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, place lids and screw bands on adjusting so that they are just finger-tip tight. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up turn off the heat and remove lid, wait 5 minutes before removing the jars. Check seals, label, and store.
It’s always best to wait at least a couple of months before cracking open the first jar. The pickles need time to absorb the briny goodness you’ve created. It’s the same with all things pickled…they really will taste better in a couple of months and the longer you can wait the better tasting they become. This is part of the reason we will make such large batches of our favorite preserves; so, they overlap by about three months. Unfortunately, we are down to the last three jars of our favorite dill pickles.
Put up Total (one bushel):
- 35 x 1 L wide mouth mason jars ~ with 21/2lbs cukes left over
Note: a single batch (9lbs) will yield 7 x 1L wide mouth mason jars