Dill Pickles with Mama-in-Law Tweedle

August 23, 2012

Mama Tweedle-in-law makes darn good dill pickles and I have always wanted to learn how. Canning at home always seemed quite daunting, but after watching the process, it's not that hard, it's just that you have to be particular and not rush anything. The key is that you want everything to be properly sterilized and sealed. We split a 40 pound box of pickling cukes and got to work one afternoon!

You can get pickling cukes from any local produce farm or market. It is best if they are as fresh as you can get them. Ordering ahead is a good idea. 
The first step is washing the cukes. You could do this in the sink, but with the amount of cukes you need, it would take all day just to wash. The easiest way is to do them is in your washing machine, however, you can only do this with a top loading machine. All you do, is dump them all in and run the gentle cycle on cold water (with no soap!). It looks pretty funny having all these cukes in your washer, but it really works!

Aside from the cukes, the ingredients are pretty straight forward. I picked the dill from our garden to use and we ended up using it all. It was about 6 cups of fresh dill! You also need white vinegar, coarse salt, mustard seed, bay leaves, garlic and brown sugar.
The first thing you have to do is sterilize your jars. You need big jars- 1 quart each. To sterilize them, put them in the oven at 250 for about 20 mins. You can do this while you prep the other steps. 


When they are done, remove them from the oven wearing oven mitts and place them on a kitchen towel on the counter. 
While your jars are in the oven, you need to prepare the lids. They also have to be sterilized. The rubber around the edges of the lids also has to soften in hot water for a while in order for the jars to seal properly. In order to do this, put all the jar lids in a small pot, bring them to a boil and then simmer them for about 20 minutes. You only need to do this with the jar tops, not the screw ring pieces. You can just place those off to the side. 
After the jars are sterilized, fill them with the ingredients (see recipe below). While you are doing this, you will need to prepare the vinegar liquid on the stove. The ratio is 4 cups of water to 1 cup of vinegar and bring it to a boil. 
After all your jars are filled, you are ready to stuff them with cukes!

We dumped our cukes into the sink, just because it was a nice easy to place to grab them from. You could also just reach from the box, or right out of the washing machine!
Begin by holding the jar on an angle and leaning the cukes against the outer edges of the jar pushing them as far to the bottom as you can. 
This is a bit like doing a puzzle, as you want to squeeze as many cukes into each jar as you can. You can push on these babies really hard!! Get them in there!!  

I think the most I got into one jar was 12!! 

Once they are all filled with cukes, top them with a little chunk of carrot and more dill on top. You want dill on the bottom of the jar and the top. 
Now you are ready to add the liquid and pop the lids on! 
With a ladle, carefully spoon the vinegar liquid into the jar and fill it as full as you can- to entirely cover all the contents of the jar. 
In order for it to seal, there cannot be any vinegar on the rim of the jar. Use a damp cloth to wipe it down. 
When you are ready to handle your lids, you can turn the heat off on the stove. Use a fork to lift each lid out, one at a time. 
Use the same fork to push the dill under the liquid and again make sure there is nothing touching the rim of the jar. 
Pop the lid on...
And twist the ring over it to shut it completely. 
When all your lids are on and jars filled with liquid, you are ready to process the pickles. In a large pot, submerge the jars in water that "isn't quite to a boil". This is a little tricky. You need to watch the pot and adjust the temperature so that it stays close to a boil the whole time. Put the lid on the pot and check them after 20 minutes. 
The cukes should have turned a slightly different colour of green- a more yellowish green. Pull them out of the pot and finish the rest of your jars in batches. 
Now all you have to do is wait!! Leave your jars on a table or counter for about 24 hours without moving them or touching them. You'll hear them seal up and POP over the next few hours. After 24 hours, turn each jar upside down in order to make sure the salt and sugar from the bottom dissolves in the vinegar liquid. They'll be ready to eat in about 8-10 weeks! 
Dill Pickles
In the bottom of each jar put 1 sprig of dill, 2 bay leaves, 2 whole peeled cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp mustard seed, 1 Tbsp coarse salt and 1 heaping Tbsp of brown sugar. Pack with cukes and put a chunk of carrot and another sprig of dill on top. Fill jars with vinegar solution (4 cups water vinegar to 1 cup vinegar, which is enough for about 3-4 jars) and seal and process as explained above. 
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