Who doesn’t love a perfectly crunchy dill pickle? You can eat them on or with your favorite sandwich, dip them in a buttermilk flour batter and fry them, or keep it simple and eat them straight out of the jar. Any way you choose to devour this delicious snack is up to you. And there are a variety of brands to choose from. Some have more dill than others. Some have more garlic than others. What if you could choose the perfect flavoring? Well, you can. All you need is a few glass jars, with seals and lids (also known as lid rings), vinegar, water, dill, and garlic. And, of course, cucumbers. When picking cucumbers, make sure they are not overly ripe. These will cause you to have a mushy pickle. For some crunch, a slightly under ripe pickle is perfect.
First, you would start by sanitizing your jars, lids, and seals. You can do this by boiling a pot of water, at least half way full. Place the glass jars, seals, and lids in the boiling water. Make sure to turn them occasionally, so that all sides are sanitized. Once this is done, you can take them out of the water and set them some place to cool. Please remember that the items will be hot, so be cautious and use a cloth towel or oven mitt to handle them.
Once the jars have cooled, you can begin filling them with your cucumbers. And this is where your right to choose first comes in. You can have a jar of whole pickles, pickle spears, or sliced pickles. It’s up to you. Pack the jar as tight as possible because when the liquid is poured in, you don’t want your cucumbers just floating about. Once you have the amount of pickles you want in your jars, add some dill. You can add a whole stem or chopped dill. If you’re not into fresh dill weed, you can buy a jar of dry dill instead. Then add some garlic. Two garlic cloves is sufficient, but if you want more, you can add more.
The next step is the brine, also known as pickle juice. Bring 3 cups of water and 3 cups of vinegar to a boil. Here, you can also take creative liberty by adding some extra ingredients. If you like your pickles with an extra dill flavor, you can add dill to the brine mixture. If you like a more garlicky flavor, you can add garlic to the mixture. And you don’t have to stop there. If you choose, you can add other herbs and spices, such as, sea salt, peppercorn, allspice, and bay leaves. Once the mixture has been brought to a boil, turn the fire down and let it simmer until you are ready to pour.
When pouring the liquid into the jars, make sure to use a ladle and funnel. You do not want to waste any of that yummy pickle juice. Also make sure to use a towel or oven mitt to hold the jars. The hot brine mixture will cause the glass to heat. Do not fill the jar to the top. You should leave about a half inch of space. Once you have poured your juice into the jar, clean the top of the jar using a clean cloth. You don’t want anything between the seal and the jar, otherwise it may not seal properly. Place the seal on top of the jar, then screw on the lid.
Your next step is to place your sealed jars into a pot of boiling water. Fill the pot a little more than half way. Once you place the jars in the pot, the water level will rise, which can cause the pot to overflow and you do not want that. Leave the jars in the pot, preferably covered, for 15-20 minutes. When time is up, carefully remove the jars, and set them somewhere to cool. Leave them to sit for 24-48 hours. You will hear the seals start to pop. Don’t worry, it’s normal. They are just finishing the sealing process.
After your 24-48 hour time out is complete, set your dill pickles in a cool, dry area for 4-6 weeks. If you are too anxious to wait that long to taste your creation, 2 weeks is also sufficient. Keep in mind, the longer you wait, the longer the juices have to seep in to your pickles, filling them with even more flavor. Your final step for this process, is to pop open that jar of pickles and enjoy!