With all the cucumbers accumulating in our kitchen, I decided it was time to make pickles. Last year I only made sweet pickles (which everyone in my family loves!). But Greg didn’t like them too much. He’s more of a dill kinda guy. So, I found 2 dill pickle recipes that I thought I would give a try. One came from my handy-dandy Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (I figured I couldn’t go wrong there). The other came from another blogger that I just adore…Sherelle Christensen. I’ve tried several of her recipes and so far they’ve never failed me. So I figured her pickle recipe must be pretty good too.
I started with Sherelle’s version first, which you can find here. I don’t really know how many pounds of cucumbers I had, but there were about 20-25 cucumbers to work with. I split and did half with Sherelle’s recipe and saved half to do with the Better Homes and Gardens one.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 4c. white vinegar (I actually used apple cider vinegar, cause that’s why my tried and true BHG recipe book said is best for pickles…let’s hope they’re right)
- 1c. pickling salt
- 12c. water
- 16 cloves of garlic, halved
- 8 sprigs of dill (or dried weed)
- 8 heads of dill (or dried dill seed)
Ok, I had to do a little research here (and I’m still not 100% on this, so if you are more familiar feel free to leave a comment and help a girl out!). If you buy fresh dill, the sprigs are the little twiggy leaves on the main stem. The head is the end part that creates seeds. I was very disappointed when Publix didn’t carry fresh dill in their produce section, so I had to settle for the dried versions from the spice section. So if you know where I can buy fresh dill locally, let me know! 🙂
So the deal with dried spices is (again, had to do some research), 1 tsp of dried spice is typically equivalent to 1 Tbsp. of fresh (that’s the general rule of thumb). There are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, so it’s a 3:1 ratio. The dried versions are much more concentrated, so you use less. 1 sprig of fresh dill will give you approximately 1 tsp of dill weed. So, if you are using dry spices, you’ll need 1/3 tsp dill weed. Whew, did that make sense? Believe me, my brain hurt after trying to figure all this out, and I’m still sceptical whether I did my math right. Clearly the easy answer is FIND FRESH DILL. haha
And if that’s not confusing enough, a sprig of dill= dill weed; a head of dill= dill seed. So you still have to buy 2 different types of spices. I didn’t make this connection until after I got home from Publix, so I just used dill weed. Lord, help me, I hope these pickles turn out right!!!
OK, back to the recipe. The first step is to clean the cucumbers and scrub them with a brush to get all the prickly spurs off. I think I will be purchasing a vegetable brush in the near future. My basic kitchen sink brush was a little weak for the job 😉 Next you’ll slice them up how you like. I decided to cut some of them into spears and some into slices.
As you cut them, place them into a large bowl and when you finish, sprinkle with pickling salt (approx 1/3c.) and give them a good toss. Place the bowl into the fridge for about 2 hours. This will drain some of the fluid out of the cucumbers and allow the pickling salt to it’s magic.
When you are ready for the canning process, begin sterilizing your jars by bring the water in the canner to a boil and placing jars into the canner. Also, place your lids in a small pot on low heat to allow them to simmer.
Remove pickles from the fridge and drain the water (but save the water and use it in the brine for canning).
In a large pot, combine vinegar, water (part of which will be the water you drained), and 2/3c. pickling salt and bring the brine to a boil.
In each jar (I used quarts), drop 1 clove of garlic (cut in halves) and a head of dill (or 1/3tsp dill weed).
Fill the jar with your pickles, and place a sprig of dill (I just sprinkled a tiny bit more dill weed) and 2 more garlic halves. Pour hot brine into the jar, leaving a half-inch headspace.