Dill pickles are one of the things that we like a lot at our house. We have been canning/preserving them every year for it seems like forever…and when you present a jar to friends, are they ever happy! Cold, crisp and crunchy! We now get our organic dill cucumbers, dill weed and garlic from our local farmer’s market, we think the pickles have never been better. We put garlic in all the jars but only put pickling spice in half of them just for a bit of variety.
10 – 12 lbs. dill cucumbers
2 bunches dill weed
10 – 12 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 large bags of ice, (approximately 10 lbs.)
8 cups Heinz pickling vinegar, which is 7% acetic acid by volume, white distilled vinegar is 5%**
24 cups of water
1 ½ cups pickling salt
1 dozen quart sized, wide-mouth canning jars
Screw caps & lids if they don’t come with the jars
A canning kettle Wash & dry the canning jars & screw caps.
Fill the canning kettle about 2/3rd full with water, cover & bring to a boil. Turn the oven on to 225 F. Place as many jars as you can in the canning kettle at a time; cover & sterilize the jars for 10 minutes. If necessary, repeat with the remaining jars.
Line two rimmed baking sheets with kitchen towels. As the jars are sterilized, place them onto the towel lined baking sheets & keep warm in the oven. Place the screw caps in the boiling water & keep them at a simmer until ready to use.
While the jars are being sterilized, wash the cucumbers then place into a large spotlessly clean, metal tub; add cold water & ice to cover. Let stand for an hour. Don’t skip this step as this is what makes the pickles crisp.
In the meantime, place the vinegar, 24 cups of water and pickling salt in a very large pot, cover & bring to a boil to dissolve the salt. Turn the heat down to simmer, cover until ready to fill the jars. Follow the instructions on the package of your screw caps & lids for how to prepare the lids as different brands have varying methods for doing this.
After the hour is up chilling the cucumbers, remove the jars from the oven. Remove the cucumbers from the ice water bath a few at a time; with a spider or other large slotted spoon or sieve; place in a colander to drain slightly. Place a clove of garlic & two or three sprigs of dill weed, saving the blossoms for when the jars are filled & ½ tsp. pickling spice, start filling the jars with the cucumbers, blossom end down.
Once all the jars have been filled with cucumbers (make sure you don’t pack above the shoulder of the jars), top each with some of the dill weed blossoms; then fill each jar with the hot pickling liquid, just covering the dills & blossoms, poking down the blossoms into the liquid. Carefully wipe each jar with a clean damp cloth a few times; then place a hot lid on each one followed by a screw cap fingertip tightened. When each jar has been covered with the lids & caps, process in a hot water bath.**
**Heinz Canada recommends their Pickling Vinegar to properly preserve foods by inhibiting the growth of food spoilage bacteria, as it has an acidity level that is recommended for successful, safe, home preservation of foods. If you are outside of Canada check other vinegars to ensure they are safe for preserving foods.
**To see about preserving/canning using a hot water bath, click here.