Last week, along with apricot lavender jam, I made six pints of strongly flavored dill I adapted from a recipe in my first and only cookbook, Pickled: Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions. Late summer is the traditional pickling season but as long as there is good local produce, any season can be pickling season. My weekly trip the farmers market and the contents of my CSA share this year has provided me constant inspiration to maintain my annual canning tradition. I can with what I have mostly, although I did go out of my way to make a huge batch of jalapeno peppers (post coming soon!)
I adapted the Dill Pickle recipe from the book which looks odd to me years later. The original recipe given to me by Aunt Judy is a mildly seasoned pickle, so I made the recipe this time bolder to suit my taste preference. As I say in the book, as long as you understand the food science basics, you should feel free to experiment with spices and seasonings to suit your own tastes. The brine may be more than you’ll need for 6 pints depending on the shape and size of your kirbys, so expect to have some left over or discard. Here’s it is:
Garlic and Mustard Dills
Makes 6 pints (spears or halves)
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 6 cups water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard powder (Coleman’s or Penzey’s is what I use)
- 2 pounds kirby cucumbers (about 20 medium), scrubbed under cold water, halved or quartered into spears
- 6 sprigs fresh dill
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
In a nonreactive saucepan (meaning stainless steel or any other modern cookware- NOT 100% aluminum), whisk together the vinegar, water, salt and mustard. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until the salt dissolves. In the meantime sterilize the jars and lids according the the USDA Canning Guidelines. Pack the pint sized jars first with a fresh sprig of dill and a whole garlic clove each, followed by an equal portions of raw cucumber halves or spears. Make sure to pack your pickles tightly but leave enough room at the top so the lid rests easily on the mouth of the jar.
Using a canning funnel, ladle the hot brine to cover the cucumbers leaving about 1/2 inch at the top of each jar. Insert a clean chopstick to free any possible air bubbles and check the mouth of the jar to make sure it’s clean and then screw on the lids. Process in a hot water bath for 10-15 minutes and then pull from the water with rubberized tongs. I cover my countertops with a clean dish towel so any water left on the jar is absorbed into the towel. Each jar will ping as it cools. That means it’s sealed and safe to store on your shelf!
Once all the jars reach room temperature, store in a dark cupboard for about three weeks to let flavors develop before opening. Opened jars can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 months as long as you use clean utensils to take the pickles out each time. Ban all visiting friends and relatives from your kitchen forever should they attempt to insert a mayonnaise covered fork into your pickle jar. Sealed, these pickles will keep for about one year.