July 23, 2012

BBF Preserves: Dill Pickles

Much like how a electrician's home isn't wired correctly or a finish carpenters' house isn't trimmed out completely, I haven't done much canning for myself yet this year. But I've been busy teaching - first low-sugar strawberry jam classes and now pickling classes. 

But I'm not yet experiencing produce anxiety, there's still plenty of time to pickle, make salsa, put up peaches, and try slow cooker ketchup

Photo courtesy of the Rufus Porter Museum
Typically I teach the pickling class by making dilly beans - but the day of this particular workshop out in Bridgton, the Rosemont Produce Company didn't have any green beans. They did have some lovely local pickling cukes, so I took those, along with some fresh dill and garlic.

Photo courtesy of the Rufus Porter Museum
These quick fresh pack dill pickles came together easily with a brine that includes a bit of sugar, pickling spice, in addition to the standards of water, vinegar, and salt.

When we were finished, we had 6 pints of pickles from 4 pounds of cucumbers.

Photo courtesy of the Rufus Porter Museum
Have you pickled much this year? What's the weirdest pickled food you've had? I want to try some small batches of unusual pickles. I am definitely going to try my hand at pickled peppers again, after last year's batch of sliced peppers came out mushy.

Quick Fresh Pack Dill Pickles
from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

4 pounds of pickling cucumbers, washed
12 sprigs of fresh dill
6 cloves of garlic
6 cups water
8 cups white vinegar (of 5% acidity)
1 1/4 cup canning and pickling salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp pickling spice mix
6 teaspoons mustard seed, divided
3 teaspoons crushed red pepper, divided (optional)

Wash cucumbers and trim 1/16" inch from blossom end of fruit (this helps to keep pickles crisp). Cut cukes into halves or spears.

Heat 6 wide mouth pint jars in a boiling water bath canner. Heat lids in a small saucepan.

Mix water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a large stockpot. Add pickling spice tied up in a spice bag or cheesecloth. Bring brine to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat once sugar and salt is dissolved.

Place one clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon mustard seed, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 2 sprigs of fresh dill in each jar. Pack cucumbers in tightly. Trim cucumbers to 1/2" of the top of the jar.

Cover cucumbers with hot brine, leaving 1/2" headspace. Free any bubbles in jar with a non-metallic utensil. Adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jar. Apply lids and screw bands.

Process 10 minutes in a hot water bath canner.

Makes 6 pints.