Zach loves pickles. Even when he was little, he ate lots of dill pickles. When I saw an easy-looking recipe for homemade dill pickles in Family Fun magazine in 1996, we set out to make them together. We were surprised at how well they turned out– nice and sour, with a real dill flavor. I try to make them every summer when the cucumbers show up at the farmer’s market. I like to use very small pickling cucumbers, in pint-sized jars. The pickles age in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or more after processing. The pickles I made last month are now ready to eat!
You need some canning supplies to make the pickles: canning jars (either quart or pint) with sealing lids and rings, and a large pot for boiling the jars (deep enough to cover them completely), with a metal rack to keep the jars from touching the bottom. It is important to use pickling salt instead of regular salt (pickling salt does not have any additives) and distilled water instead of tap water to avoid any off flavors or cloudiness in the brine.
The original recipe is written in “per quart” quantities; I have adapted it below for pint-sized jars. A quart of small cucumbers from the farmers market yields 2 pint jars of pickles.
Dill Pickles from Family Fun
Small, uniform, whole pickling cucumbers
3 sprigs fresh dill
½ clove garlic, peeled and sliced
2 ¼ teaspoons canning salt
3 oz (between ¼ and ½ cup) cider vinegar
First sterilize the canning jars by boiling them in a large pot of water. Dip the lids in the boiling water too and lay them face up on a clean dish towel . Wash the cucumbers and dill.
Put 2 sprigs of dill in the bottom of the sterilized pint jar, then pack it with cucumbers. Add the vinegar, salt, garlic. Then add distilled water to cover the cucumbers. Put another sprig of dill on top. Tightly screw lid on jar.
After you have done this for each jar, put them in a very large pot of water fitted with a canning rack, making sure that the water covers the jars by at least an inch. Turn on the heat, and bring to a gentle boil. After boiling for 5-10 minutes, turn off the heat. When the jars are cool enough to handle, lift them out of the pan and refrigerate them. After three weeks, the pickles will be ready to eat, but can be kept up to a year in the refrigerator.
Dill pickles are, of course, a nice lunchtime condiment. Zach likes them sliced in grilled cheese and pickle sandwiches.