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Food Storage – Homemade Pickles

June 23, 2009

I love the taste of home canned dill pickles, and they are really easy to make. I grow my own cucumbers. I always plant Boston Pickling cucumbers. They are an old heirloom variety that is specially suited to canning. I like to raise my cucs on a trellis to save space in the garden and to keep them up off of the ground. I use an old galvanized cattle panel and wire it up on metal T-posts. Then I plant my seed about 6 inches apart along the bottom of the panel. A little 8-8-8 fertilizer and careful watering will produce a good crop. Pictured below is my cucumber trellis before and after.

When the cucumbers start to get ripe you have to watch them like a hawk. One day they’ll be little bitty things, and the next day they’ll be six inches long. I pick them when they are about 5 or 6 inches long, wash them thoroughly, and store in the refrigerator until I have enough to make 4 quarts (nothing magic about this number, it’s just what my water bath canner will hold at one time). Pictured below: Garden fresh cucumbers.

Here’s my recipe for homemade dill pickles.

Dill Pickles (4 quarts)

4 quarts cucumbers cut in ¼ inch slices (I use Boston Pickling Cucumbers)
½ onion cut into slices ¼ inch wide
5 cups white vinegar
5 cups water
5 tbsp salt
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
2 tsp dill seed
6 pepper corns
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp cinnamon
4 whole cloves
¼ tsp ginger
½ tsp garlic
¼ tsp turmeric

To Prepare:
• Sterilize jars in boiling water
• Sterilize lids and rings in boiling water
• Heat water, vinegar, and salt in pot
• Place all spices in spice bag and suspend in boiling water, vinegar and salt.
• Reduce heat under spices and liquid, and boil at low temp. for 15 minutes
• Remove jars from boiing water and drain
• Pack sliced cucumbers and onions in sterilized quart jars
• Remove spice bag from boiling liquid
• Pour liquid and spices into jars leaving ½ inch head space
• Wipe jar rims and screw on lids and rings
• Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes making sure that water covers tops of jars by ½ inch
• Remove from water bath and allow to cool
• Make sure lids have pinged (lids should be bowed down after jars have cooled)
• Label and date jars
• Pickles will be ready to eat in approximately one week
• Discard any jars whose lids have bowed up while in storage as this is a sign that contents have gone bad.

If you have any of the pickling liquid left, you can store it in a closed jar in the refrigerator and use it on the next batch. Enjoy. Pictured below: the end product

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