The taste of homemade pickles is far superior to any store bought pickles. Add some fresh dill, some fresh garlic, and you’ll never go back. Garlic Dill Pickles are easy to make.
How to Make Quality Pickles
Buy fresh and prepare right away. Better yet, get your cucumbers from your garden if you’ve grown them, or from a road side market. Cucumbers should be green, firm with no soft or brown spots. Remember, good cucumbers make good dill pickles. Bad cucumbers aren’t worth the time to make bad dill pickles!
The same goes for your spices and herbs. Get fresh dill, not the dill in a jar. Most supermarkets also carry sprigs of herbs in the produce section. Using fresh herbs over dried herbs makes a huge difference in taste.
Also, use pickling (or canning) salt. This is salt without the iodine added and is available for a few dollars at Wal-Mart and most stores that carry canning supplies. Table salt has iodine which can darken and discolor your cucumbers while they are pickling.
If you have well water, then use distilled water. Well water can be hard and have additional minerals that can interfere with the pickling process.
Use good quality white vinegar. Make sure your vinegar is created from natural products. Some vinegars are made with chemical by-products. Use a 5% vinegar (or 50 grain). Most name brand vinegars will meet these suggestions.
You will also need about 6-7 pint size canning jars. Sterilize jars (If you have a dishwasher you can just run them through a hot wash cycle.) by boiling for 10 minutes. DO NOT boil the rims or the lids. Simmer the lids for a few minutes in a separate pan. The rims do not come in direct contact with the food. You can safely wash and rinse the rims as you would normally wash any of your dishes.
4 pds cucumbers (5-6 large ones)
1 gal water (distilled recommended) + 4 cups
1 cup canning/pickling salt + 4 tablespoons
2 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
6-14 garlic cloves (fresh!)
6-14 sprigs fresh dill
1. Simmer the gallon of water in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of the pickling salt and boil until the salt is dissolved. Let cool. This is your soaking brine solution.
2. Scrub cucumbers clean. Don’t overdo it. You want to leave the waxy skin intact.
3. Soak the cucumbers in the brine solution overnight. You want them to soak for a minimal of 12 hours up to 24 hours.
4. Sterilize your jars and lids.
5. Using a sauce pan big enough to submerge the pint jars, fill it halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit. If you have a canning rack, then set it up in the pan. If you don’t have a canning rack, you will need to elevate the jars. This can be done by carefully arranging butter knives in a lattice across the bottom of the pan. (This is not an ideal solution – the canning rack is the best way to go but in a pinch use solid butter knives, not ones with plastic handles!)
6. Remove your sterilized jars and set them up in front of you. In each jar, add 1-2 sprigs of fresh dill. Peel the garlic cloves, mash slightly (to help release the flavors) and add 1-2 cloves to each jar, depending on how much garlic you like in your pickles.
7. In a small saucepan add the 4 cups of water and 2 cups of vinegar. Bring to a simmer. Add the 4 T of salt and 1 T sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat.
8. Remove cucumbers from the brine solution. Slice the blossom end off. Slice to fit in the jars. Large cucumbers will usually work best if cut in thirds and then quarter each piece to create “finger” sized pickles. Pack the pieces into the jars.
9. Add the hot water & vinegar solution to the jars leaving 1/4 head space between the top of the jar and the solution.
10. Add lids, screw down th rims snug but not tight. Put jars (upright!) in the large sauce pan adding hot water to cover by about an 1″. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 20 minutes.
11. Let cool for about 15 minutes before removing jars. Jars will be hot. Place on large towel and let set for 12-24 hours. It will take that long for the seal to set. If the lids are indented, then you can tighten the rims down. If the lid centers are popped up, then they did not seal. You can replace the lid and boil one more time to seal it. Once sealed, store the jars in a dark cool place (basements work well, unused cabinets, etc.) for 4-6 weeks.
Pop open a jar and enjoy fresh garlic dill pickles. Once opened be sure to refrigerate!