I have to admit, with the heat and lack of rain this year, our cucumbers have suffered. We continue to pick 3-4 cucumbers per day, however, they are smaller and thinner than last year’s crop.
After eating cucumbers and onion salad and cucumbers directly off the vine (yes, standing there in the garden), we decided we better preserve some of our crop for later in the year.
One of our favorite canning recipes for cucumbers includes Garlic and Dill Pickles. The key is to use fresh, firm cucumbers. If you use soft cucumbers, your pickles will also be soft – and who wants that? Try this recipe and you will never buy pickles again!
Garlic Dill Pickle Recipe
Makes approximately 8 pints
16 (approximate number, depending on the size) of pickling cucumbers, sliced any way you prefer (coin sized, spears, chunks)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups distilled white vinegar
4 cups water
5 tablespoons pickling salt
16 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper – 1/4 teaspoon per jar
8 teaspoons dill – 1 teaspoon per jar
4 teaspoons black peppercorns -1/2 teaspoon per jar
Optional: If you like your pickles a little more on the spicy side, you can add fresh sliced hot peppers (any variety) to the jar with the cucumbers.
In a large saucepot, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer.
Arrange jars on counter. Evenly divide each of the spices and place them in the bottom of the jars.
Wash and slice the cucumbers. Pack the slices firmly into the jars, leaving as little space in between them as you can. Pour the brine into the jar, leaving ½ inch headspace.
Wipe rims, apply warmed lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Promptly remove the jars from the pot and allow them to cool on a towel placed on the countertop. Make sure each lid has sealed (you will hear the popping sound as each jar begins to seal). After 24 hours, press down on each lid to make sure they do not pop back up. If they do not, then the process is complete.
Pickles can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year. However, our pickles never make it on the shelf that long – they are usually gone by early winter.
If you want to skip the boiling water process, these pickles are also wonderful as refrigerator pickles. Just pop the jars into the fridge once they’re cool. Conserve your time and energy — once the pickles are gone from the jar, you can use the brine over and over again (up to 5 times) by just adding fresh cucumbers to the cold jar.
Jim and Mary