I’ve been “puttin’ up” again, y’all! This time it was our favorite kosher dill pickles. And when I say favorite, I really mean these are a favorite. My daughter and grandson almost beg for these pickles every year. As a matter of fact, my recipe notes say that the summer before A was born, I put up 30 quarts of these dills. By the time he was born in September over half of them were gone.
Before I get started with the recipe, I want to take a minute to mention the importance of using proper canning procedures. If you haven’t canned before, or if it’s been a while since your last canning session, please review the process and get all your equipment ready before you start.
One of the best resources for new and seasoned canners alike is the Ball Blue Book. It’s published by the people who make the Ball canning jars. It’s available in lots of locations and on the web at amazon.com.
Some other good online resources are:
- National Center for Home Food Preservation (University of Georgia)
- Home Food Preservation Site (Pennsylvania State University)
- The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
- “Some Canning Do’s and Don’ts” from The New York Times
- “Do’s and Don’ts for Successful Canning” from University of California
The National Center for Home Food Preservation even offers a free online course in food preservation. It’s well worth the time for the amount of information you get!
Now, let’s get started making pickles!
Prepare the garlic and dill and set aside.
Prepare the cucumbers by removing 1/16 inch from the blossom end of each. You need to remove that tiny little sliver because there is an enzyme that remains in the blossom end of cucumbers which will cause your pickles to become soft while in storage. Cut into halves or quarters as you wish.
Wash your jars, lids and bands in good, hot soapy water. Rinse them well making sure all traces of soap are removed.
Set the bands aside. Place the lids in barely simmering water and leave them there until they are needed later in the process. Fill the canner with water and and bring it to the boil. I like to put my jars in the canner and let them heat up along with the water. Some people hold them in a 200 degree oven. This just works best for me. You always want to fill hot jars. Putting hot food in a cold jar can cause breakage. Likewise, putting a cold jar of food into boiling water is just asking for all your hard work to end up in the bottom of the canner.
Remember you’re working with lots of boiling water when canning. Always use a jar lifter for removing jars from the hot water to prevent scalding.
The recipe for my favorite kosher dills is simple. Cucumbers, salt, peppercorns, dill, garlic, vinegar and water. Adjust the amounts according to the number of quarts you’re making. I always make these pickles in quart jars so that I can keep the cucumber halves intact. If using pints, you’d need to cut the halves across and use only half the amounts I give for each jar.
Cucumbers, pickling type
Vinegar, 5% acidity
Dill seed or fresh dill heads
For each quart of pickles, bring 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar to the boil.
Meanwhile, in each jar place 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pickling salt, 1 tablespoon dill seed (or 3 heads fresh dill), 6 black peppercorns and 2 halved garlic cloves. Note that each dill head counts as a teaspoon of dill seed. I only had a few heads this time so I used one head of dill and 2 teaspoons of seeds in each jar.
Pack the halved or quartered cucumbers into the hot jars. Using a canning funnel, pour the boiling vinegar and water solution over the jar contents leaving 1/2 inch of headspace (the space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar).
I realized right before I was about to put the lids and rings on that I had not included the garlic in the jars. Yikes! Just goes to show you that with this recipe it’s never too late to add an ingredient. You could even sneak a hot red pepper in there if you wanted to!
Wipe the top rim of each jar carefully with a dampened paper towel. This is to make sure that there is nothing on there which would prevent the lid from forming a complete seal. Place the lids on top of the jars and screw on the rings until just finger tight. Don’t force the rings or tighten too much. The jars have to be able to expel air during the canning process in order to create the seal.
Place the jars in the canner rack and lower them into the simmering hot water. Place the cover on the pot. Process in simmering hot water (180-185 degrees) for 15 minutes (low temp pasteurization method).
Notes about processing times: Normally, you begin timing at the point that the water has returned to the boil. However, for these pickles I use what is called the low temperature pasteurization method. This method can only be used for high acid recipes and must be monitored carefully to make sure the water remains above 180 degrees for the entire processing time.
Processing time must also be adjusted for altitude. For this recipe, the processing time is 15 minutes for altitudes from sea level to 1,000 feet, 20 minutes for altitudes from 1,001 to 6,000 feet and 25 minutes for altitudes over 6,000 feet.
Remove jars from canner, place on a clean dish towel and allow them to cool completely (24 hours recommended). After jars are completely cooled, you may remove the bands. Be sure to test for a complete seal. Any jars that failed to seal are not shelf stable but may be placed in the refrigerator. You will notice when you remove the jars from the canner that the cucumbers have become a more olive color and there is undissolved salt in the bottom of the jar. That is normal. By the time the jars have cooled overnight all the salt will have dissolved.
Store the jars in a dark, cool place. I recommend six weeks of standing time for the flavors to fully develop.