Homemade Dill Pickles
Processing method: Water Bathing
Processing time: Process for 10-15 minutes (adjust for altitude)
1,001- 3,000 ft. - add 5 minutes
3,001- 6,000 ft. - add 10 minutes
6,001- 8,000 ft. - add 15 minutes
8,001-10,000 ft. - add 20 minutes
Of course you could make quick pickles any night of the week, but when fresh produce is in season, it's more flavorful and cheaper too. So right now, when farmers' markets are abundant with colorful, crisp fruits and vegetables, it's the time to take a weekend to learn how to can pickles with Denali Canning.
First step is to wash the cucumbers. Next you can cut them up or leave them whole (whichever you prefer). For spears, cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then place cut-side down on your cutting board and cut in half again. For pickle chips, just cut the cucumbers into ¼ inch coins. Once you’ve decided how to cut them, put them in a pot with salt water and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Get your jars clean and ready to use, quart jars will easily fit whole pickles or spears, while pint jars are better suited to pickle chips. Arrange the jars (without their lids or rings) on a rack or your makeshift foil coil and add enough hot water from the tap to cover them by one inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, and immediately turn the heat off. Leave the jars submerged until ready to use them.
*For this recipe, you can use either 2 quart-sized jars or 4 pint-sized jars. (Around 3 pounds of cucumbers)
In a separate large saucepan, combine 2 cups white vinegar, 2 cups water, and 2 Tbsp pickling salt and bring to a boil. It's important to use pickling salt here, which can be found in most grocery stores. Table salt often contains anti-caking agents which can turn pickle brine cloudy and produce off-flavors. Kosher salt can be used, but since it's coarser than pickling salt, you'll need to use a different amount: For every 1 tsp. pickling salt called for in your recipe, America's Test Kitchen's Foolproof Preserving recommends substituting 1 1/2 tsp. Morton's kosher salt or 2 tsp of Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
This recipe creates a nice, sour pickle—if you prefer something a bit more mellow, you can add up to 1 Tbsp granulated sugar to the brine.
Next you want to remove your jars from the boiling water. Make sure you know where you want to put the jars down before taking them out. Never place hot glass directly on a cold stone surface, such as marble or granite. Instead, place the empty jars on a wooden cutting board, or on a work surface covered with a kitchen towel—a towel that's folded in half is even better.
For Pint Jars: Add 1 peeled garlic clove and 3 to 4 fresh dill sprigs (or 1 tsp. dill seeds) to each jar. Tuck in a flowering dill head if you've got one, then pack as many cucumbers into the jar as will fit snugly. Pour in pickle brine to cover, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace between the rim and the liquid.
For Quart Jars: Add 2 peeled garlic cloves and 6 to 8 fresh dill sprigs (or 2 tsp dill seeds) to each jar.
Next if you want, you can add spices. There is no right or wrong answer with the spices you can experiment with what you like. Add any combination of whole coriander, caraway, cumin, mustard seeds, cloves, black peppercorns, and/or allspice berries. Do keep the spices whole since ground spices can make the brine cloudy and the pickles gritty. Add up to 1 1/2 tsp whole spices per pint jar or 1 Tbsp per quart jar. If you like a little heat, a dried chile or 1/2 of a fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper per jar is another great addition. Once everything is in the jar and you're ready to seal, get a rag and clean around the rim of the jars to make sure there is no leftover debris. Nicely center the Denali lids and twist on the rings! Screw on the rings until they are just hand-tight—don't try to muscle-man tighten the rings. During the boiling process air needs to be able to escape from the jars—if the screw rings are too tight, it will prevent this from happening. Submerge sealed jars into the canner or stock pot. If necessary, add water to the pot so that it is at least 1 inch higher than the top of the jars. Boil the jars for 10-15 minutes to process the pickle jars.
Let the pickle jars cool at room temperature for a full 24 hours, then check the seal on the lid. If properly processed, the lids will be indented inward, indicating that the jar is sealed. If you press the center of the lid and it "pops" up and down, the jar is not sealed and you should store the pickles in the refrigerator and eat them within a few weeks. If the lids pass the pop test, remove the rings, and just try to lift the lid gently with your fingers. If you can't easily lift it off, the jars have passed the second seal test and are ready to be stored in a cool place. These pickles can be stored for about a year! Now that you know how to pickle, let's get canning!