I am a pickle fiend. When I was turning 9, I begged my Dad to bring me home a large vat of pickles from Southampton Estates (where he worked as an overnight security guard). He did and I ate those hamburger dills until I was ill. My Nana always put out a pickle and olive tray with dinner. Nana typically included Heinz sweet gerkins. Yum. Sometimes she would include her homemade Bread and Butter pickles-which are sweet and sour and simply perfect.
Mike and I met in high school. One day after school, I tried a batch of his Grandma Rudko’s pickles. Those pickles were soaked in a garlic-dill brine and topped with oak leaves (so old school and marvelous!). After one bite I decided that I would marry Mike–if only to get more of those pickles.
I love our shared family tradition of pickling. Mike’s Uncle Vic cans pickles every year–and now, so do we. Mike and I have played with many recipes and finally, I think we came up with our own version of garlic-dills. This year Lily helped me the first batch.
The best part of pickling is working together. Lily is a pro at packing the pickles and pretty good company as she serenades me with whatever song is stuck in her brilliant little head!
You can use any size pickling cucumbers (which are available at farm stands and markets all over this time of year. It seems the small pickles can be hard to find–so sometimes I make batches of spears or chips (if I can’t find enough small whole pickles to fill a jar).
As you jar these up, if you run out of brine, just make more. This yielded about 4 quarts and 6 pints. Ha
ve enough supplies to make more than you think! Pickles are such fun gifts during the holidays–we pass out to neighbors, friends, teachers and anyone who mentioned that they love pickles!
If you aren’t up for the whole canning process–you could halve the recipe and just make this pickles in your refrigerator.
Pickling Cucumbers (4-5 pounds), washed
6 tablespoons kosher salt
4 1/2 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
2 large bunches of dills, washed
2 bulbs of white garlic-cloves separated, peeled
Bay leaves–a bunch
1. Wash, clean and sterilize your canning jars, lids and rings. If you need more instructions on how-to can, take a peak at the Ball website.
2. Fill your sink or a large basin with ice and water. Place cucumbers in ice bath. They will soak in ice bath for about 10-20 minutes, while you get everything else together. The ice bath helps ensure a crispy pickle. You can soak the cucumbers whole and then if you want to cut into spears or chips, do so right before you pack the jars.
3. Combine salt, water and vinegar (this will be the pickling brine) in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Heat water in your canning pot (or, we use a large pasta pot for processing).
4. While the brine and processing water heat, pack your jars. Place whole or cut cucumbers into jars–filling in the larger spaces with cucumbers (it is sort of like a puzzle). Leave 1/4 inch of head space.
5. To each jar add: 2 full stalks of dill, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon mustard seed and 3-4 cloves garlic.
6. Fill each jar with hot brine, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
7. Cap and process 15 minutes in boiling water.
Store pickles in a cold dark place (like your basement or pantry). Label and date!