I feel pickled. No, no, I haven't been drinking...how did pickled ever come to be a definition for drunkeness?? Anyhow, I do smell strongly of vinegar, dill, and garlic. *sigh* The whole house actually smells of vinegar now, kind of like a chip truck really. However, I've been pickling cukes! I thought that this would be a relatively simple task. I remember watching my parents make pickles when I was a kid, and I suppose through the memory of an innocent child's eyes it didn't seem to take a lot of effort (which it really isn't). With my memory of the ease of pickle making top of mind I set out to pickle about 25 pounds of pickling cucumbers by myself.
I'm happy to report that the process really isn't that difficult. There are of course varying degrees of difficulty I suppose, depending on your chosen method of production. Buoyed with confidence after reading a few recipes on the internet, and of course my past success with canning this year I was able to make things happen pretty quickly. My chosen recipe actually skips the 'processing' step of canning. I know, I know....I too have read the 'warnings' per se, about the importance of processing your canning jars in a hot water bath but I figure if the many people who have used the recipe I chose to follow lived to tell the tale then I would too!
The recipe, about as minimalist as you can imagine. Small pickling cucumbers, garlic, dill, vinegar, and pickling salt. (What more do you need?) Sure I've seen recipes with various spices (black peppercorns, mustard seed, and coriander being most common), but all I really wanted was simple, crisp, garlic dills. The recipe, as follows:
Mike's Simple Garlic Dills
(First thing, ensure you're jars are properly sterilized)
12 cups water
4 cups vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt
Follow a ratio of approximately 16 cups of liquid for every 4 lbs of cucumbers
Wash cucumbers well (scrub!) and then soak in ice water for 2 hours. The soaking isn't completely necessary but it will help your pickles remain crisp! Heat your 'ratio' of 12 cups water, 4 cups vinegar, and 1/2 cup pickling salt to a boil.
Pack 500 ml jars as follows: fresh dill and one clove of garlic on the bottom followed by your cucumbers (either halved or quartered), and then more dill and another clove of garlic if desired. Pour the boiling hot liquid over your cucumbers (leaving a scant 1/8 inch head space) and seal immediately.
Ensuring your jars are sterilized and hot when you pack them and then immediately sealing ensures they're plenty 'safe' enough. Leave overnight without disturbing and check in the morning to ensure all jars have 'popped' and are properly sealed.
Set your jars aside in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks for the flavor to develop. Enjoy a great, simple, garlic dill pickle!