There are many fun ways to can: blackberry jams or pears-in-syrup that rival the best name brand. I’ve done both for years, but I got really hooked on canning pickles. We use cucumbers grown in our garden, or we buy real pickling cucumbers, which are sold in health-food stores and farmer’s markets.
These pickles make a delicious side to any meal and great gifts. They’re also fairly quick and easy, requiring a minimum of preparation and ingredients. The finished jars will look great on the shelf, but be careful: once you open one, it’s hard to keep out of the rest!
Fresh Dill Pickles
Equipment (available at many grocery stores):
A large pot
Water-bath canning tub with wire rack
Quart-sized glass jars with lids and screw caps
30 to 36 cucumbers or pickling cucumbers (about 3-4 inches long)
3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
6 tablespoons salt
Garlic cloves, sliced
(Other spices, to your taste: cloves, peppercorns, even dried hot peppers)
1. Wash the cucumbers, and slice them into spears.
2. Sterilize jars, lids and screw caps by boiling in a pot of water for about 5 minutes.
3. Combine the vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil in a nonmetal or coated metal (Teflon, enamel) pot. (Metal makes the brine cloudy.)
4. Place a generous layer of dill, half to one clove of garlic and half a tablespoon of mustard seed in the bottom of each jar.
5. When jars are half-filled with cucumbers, add another layer of dill and fill the remainder with cucumbers.
6. Fill jars to within a half-inch of their tops with the boiling brine, and screw lids on tight. (Use potholders.)
7. Process 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath in the canning tub. Allow to cool. (May take overnight.) Check that the lids have sealed by pressing their centers; the button should not pop up or down.