Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011: Crunchy Kosher Style Dill Pickle Recipe

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I just learned how to can foods last year. My dear friend Margaret patiently showed me how to do it. That one time was all it took for me to become passionate about canning fresh foods. I made pickles from some big, fat cucumbers our friend Darrell shared with us but they turned out awful! The flavor was good, but they weren’t crisp and the skin was tough.

So this year I decided I’d try again. Armed with the knowledge of what went wrong last time, I bought the proper type of cucumbers from the farmer’s market, and made sure that I processed the cans for the minimal amount of time in a boiling water bath. It’s going to be a few weeks before all the flavors are absorbed into the cukes, so I can’t tell you for sure whether these are better than last year’s batch, but they already look better and I’m sure they’re going to be flavorful thanks to all the extra spices I added.

Crunchy Kosher Style Dill Pickles

2 ½ pounds pickle cucumbers (the kind with spiny knobs on the skin)
3 cups water
2 ½ cups vinegar
2 ½ ounces kosher dill pickle spice mix (I used Ball brand and it contains salt so you don't need to add extra)
10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
20 black peppercorns
10 sprigs dill weed
10 small sprigs fennel

Clean and slice cucumbers into spears or chips. Place in a large bowl and cover with ice water. Put in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, sterilize 10 pint-sized jars. Place the water, vinegar, dill pickle mix, and garlic cloves in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

In each jar, place as many of the cold cucumber spears as will fit. Add one garlic clove (strained from the vinegar mixture), two peppercorns, one sprig dill and one tiny sprig fennel. Pour in the boiled vinegar mixture to one-half inch from the top of the jars.

Prepare a large canning pot with bottom tray by adding water to the halfway mark and bringing to a boil.

Clean the rims of each jar and top with a lid; screw a band on each to finger tightness.

Using a jar vice, carefully place the jars of pickles in your canning pot. Make sure the boiling water covers the lids by half an inch; if necessary add more boiling water. Cover the pot and process for 10 to 20 minutes (10 minutes at low altitudes, 20 minutes for altitudes above 6,000 feet). When processing is complete, turn off the heat and uncover the canning pot. Use your jar vice to remove the pickle jars. Set them on a cloth on a table and let rest for at least 12 hours before moving.

Allow 3 to 4 weeks for flavors to penetrate the cucumbers before eating.

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