Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sweet & Spicy Dill Pickles for the Long Haul

Sorry I've been such a crappy blogger lately.  Canning has kinda consumed my life to the point where I didn't even have time to blog about it.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), this hella heat wave has slowed the garden a little and left me even less inclined to can, so I have time to share!

My dad and hubbs really love my Sweet & Spicy Dill Refrigerator Pickles, they're so crunchy and wonderful. Unfortunately, come September there aren't anymore.  For one, they get eaten up, but also they have a much shorter shelf life, and all of that is spent taking up space in my fridge.  I've done some experimenting and think I've found a reasonable long-term, canned alternative.  They'll never be as crispy as the refrigerator ones, but that's the nature of the beast.  Also, be warned: It's a 3 day process.

This recipe is kinda for a flex batch.  Mostly because I just let them accumulate for a few days then do it to it. It can also be used for whole cucumbers ( washed, sliced a lil' on each end, and for good measure you can poke a hole through them with a skewer if you like) or for planks/spears.discs.  As such, I'm not gonna tell you how many cucumbers to use.  The big thing is having enough liquid to completely cover the pickles at the end of each day.  Feel free to half or double or triple the brines in order to accomplish this.  

Day 1: Salt Brine
1. Wash & Prep your pickles and place them in a large crock or bowl.  
2.  Create a  Salt Water Brine at a ratio of 3 quarts water to 1/2 cup pickling salt.  Bring to a full boil, making sure all the salt is dissolved then remove from heat.
3.  Pour the boiling hot salt water over the cucumbers and cover with a plate and either some jars or a ziploc full of water as a weight.  At this point, if all of your cucumbers aren't completely submerged, you need to make more salt water.  They must be submerged.  
4.  Cover the bowl in plastic wrap or with a towel and put in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  

Day 2: Pickle Juice Brine
1. Remove cucumbers from the fridge and drain.  Rinse cucumbers and bowl very well.  
2. cover with cold water and let soak for 20 minutes.  
3. Drain cucumbers and rinse well both the cucumbers and bowl.  Return cucumbers to bowl.  
4.  Heat 3c. White Vinegar & 3/4 c. Sugar until sugar dissolves.  Then add 8 cloves chopped garlic, 1 c. chopped fresh dill weed, 1 tbsp. pickling spice, 2 tbsp. dried dill weed or seed, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (remember all this can be doubled or halved) and bring it all to a boil for 5 minutes.  
5. Pour boiling-hot brine over cucumbers and submerge, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours as the day before.  

Day 3: Canning
1. Get your waterbath cookin' and prep your jars and lids.  
2. Drain cucumbers, reserving the brine.  
3. Pack cucumbers into jars , leaving 1/2 in headspace.  
4. In the mean time, bring brine to a boil and ladle boiling brine into jars.  Be sure to jiggle them or us a knife to free any bubbles and top off with more brine if necessary.  
5.  Put on your lids & rings and process in hot water bath for 30 minutes.

UPDATE: These pickles took 3rd place at the Washington County Fair 2011

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