The first, and most difficult, step of the process is wrangling some cucumbers away from the little hands that helped to pick them. *smile*
- 8 pounds cucumbers (pickling variety produce the crunchiest pickles, but I use whatever I have)
- 4 cups white vinegar**
- 12 cups water
- 2/3 cup pickling salt
- 16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved (or minced garlic can be used if you prefer)
- 8 sprigs fresh dill, plus a pinch or two of dried dill
- If you like pickles with a kick, add 4 whole peppercorns or one jalapeno pepper to each jar
Before you begin, soak cucumbers overnight in an ice bath.
- Sterilize 8 quart jars and canning lids in a large pot (or two). Keep hot until you're ready to pack them.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil for five minutes.
- Wash and slice the cucumbers as you'd like (spears or slices- or both, like us). Uniform sized spears will help when you're ready to pack them into jars.
- In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic in the bottom and a pinch or two of dried dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar. (If you're using peppercorns or jalapenos add them now.) Then add 2 more garlic clove halves, 1 sprig of fresh dill and another pinch of dried dill. Pack the cukes down well into the jars because when you fill them with brine whatever can float, will float.
- Fill jars with hot brine. Leave half an inch of headspace from the rim of the jar to the brine, and make sure the brine covers the cucumbers.
- Seal jars by placing the lids on top and hand-tightening them, making sure you have cleaned the jar's rims of any residue.
- Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes. (You will likely have do to a couple batches to fit 8 jars into the bath, unless yours is a lot bigger than mine.)
- Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place. (I use my basement pantry.)