I love dill pickles, and it’s such a pleasure to make my own. I am having tremendous success this year and have already made 11 pints of dill pickles – its so nice to make them a single batch at a time rather than spend an entire day over the stove. Pickle making is an incredibly simple process – the longer they are stored the more intense the flavor. Here’s how I make mine:
First up: make the brine. The recipe I use calls for water, white vinegar and salt. Heat the mixture until the salt is fully dissolved – it doesn’t take long and is usually ready just before it reaches the boiling point. Remove from the heat.
Next: fill the sterilized jars. This step is much easier if you layout supplies before hand. I cut the scrubbed cucumbers directly into the jars, saving the trimmed ends for my chickens and ducks. I prefer slices to whole pickles – easy to snack or use on sandwiches. I’m not super fussy about how/when I add the garlic and dill. Some recipes say put in the bottom then put cucumbers on top while others reverse that. I’ve done both ways and have not noticed any significant differences. Add brine after adding the veg and herbs, just to the jar’s neck so there is headspace for pressurization.
Third: hot water bath. Seal the jar with sterilized lids and rings, making sure to wipe the jar edge to get a good seal before adding the lid. Don’t forget to check the jars for cracks before using! Place jars in stock pot and cover to about 1″, then heat just to the boil. This can take anywhere from 15 -20 minutes. Remove jars and place on counter (I set mine of a towel, not directly on the counter) to cool.
Last: storage. Check to make sure you have a good seal (jar lid should not pop up when pressed), then store in your pantry. If any don’t, just put them in the fridge – in about a week they’ll taste like pickles and be a lovely addition to your meal!
All in all it takes me about an hour to make a batch of pickles. I haven’t bought pickles in several years, so I can’t say for certain how much money I’ve saved. This year’s batches have had minimal out of pocket cost – the jars, rings, and lids were from last year and I used cucumbers and herbs from the garden, so I just needed to purchase salt and vinegar. If you enjoy cooking, or are concerned about the preservatives used in some supermarket goods, consider trying your hand at this process – you just might love it!