Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tom's World-Famous Dill Pickles

Yes, they really are famous.  Just ask anyone who’s eaten them.

Fresh cucumbers, garlic and dill
When the cucumbers, dill and garlic all start to come in out of the garden, there’s only one decent thing to do with them . . . make Dill Pickles!  These are tart, crisp, and garlicky.  You can also make sliced pickles this way, but we prefer the spears.   Makes 2 quart jars of pickles.

12 medium size pickling cucumbers (must be pickling cukes!  not regular cukes)
48 oz. water
16 oz. white distilled vinegar
½ cup pickling salt
10 fresh dill sprigs (5 for each jar), larger part of the stems removed
10 gloves garlic (5 cloves per jar)
4 fresh bay leaves (2 per jar)
1 tsp. alum (you can find this in the canning section of your grocery store, usually – keeps the pickles crisp!)
2 heaping tsp. mustard seed
2 quart size canning jars, lids & rings (large-mouth works best)
A pair of large canning tongs, or heavy-duty kitchen tongs (the canning ones work best)

Some of the supplies you'll need to make pickles

·         Cut the cucumbers in half, then in half again, into spears (see photo below)

The cucumbers cut into spears for pickling
 ·         In a large pot, bring water to a boil (enough water to cover the jars)
·         Wash the canning jars and submerge in the boiling water (using tongs) until completely covered with water
·         Boil the jars for 10 minutes to sterilize
·         In a separate large pot, add the water, vinegar and salt and heat to just boiling
·         Peel the garlic and smash it with the side of a knife, then cut into large slivers
·         Carefully remove the jars from the boiling water, using tongs, and drain upside down on a towel (leave the water on medium-high to keep it hot, but not boiling)
·         Lay the jar on its side, and insert the cucumber spears, dill sprigs and garlic in alternating layers until the jars are full.  Add the Bay Leaf in a couple of different places between the pickles.
Lay the jars on their side while filling in layers
·         Stand the jars up
·         For each quart add good ½ tsp. of alum, and one heaping tsp. of mustard seed
·         Using a ladle, pour the boiling water/vinegar/salt mixture into each jar until filled about 3/8” from the top (don’t get them too full!)
·         Take the handle of a wooden spoon and gently push the pickle spears around to release any air bubbles (or you can gently tap the jars on the counter, either way works)
·         Immediately put on the lids and rings (tightly)
·         Return the sealed jars to the hot water you boiled the jars in, just for about 3 minutes, to help seal them
Return the filled and sealed jars to the hot water
 ·         Remove the jars with tongs, and turn upside down on the counter (on a towel) for about 15 minutes, then turn right side up again.  This helps them seal.  You’ll hear the lids “pop” when they are fully sealed. 

You'll need to put the pickles away in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks before eating.  The longer you can leave them, the better!

Placing the jars upside down helps them to seal

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