Kosher Dill Pickles are the favorite of many folks for serving alongside a meat-based sandwich. The salty-garlicky- vinegary taste cuts through the fatty flavor of meat while complementing your meal. This version is a vinegar based Kosher dill pickle without the heavy price tag. This recipe does not use any sugar.
Garlic. Fresh garlic. Not the powder, not dehydrated flakes or bits. You need the real thing. A good-quality vinegar will also be required. You cucumbers need to be top-notch, fresh, and firm.
Dill. Fresh Dill. It should be fresh and firm, preferably from your garden, but any source will do. Be sure it is free of debris, parasites and bugs, and pesticides. If you only have dried, use it, and add a few dill seeds.
First things first: Prepare you cucumbers.
Be sure you prepare your cucumbers by washing them in a light vinegar solution. Then rinse thoroughly, removing all dirt and pesticides. Dry them off before you continue.
Cut your cucumbers into spears or rounds. Most Kosher dill pickles are not whole. They are designed to be an accompaniment to a meal, not a stand-alone snack.
Once cut, place in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of salt. Toss or stir to be sure all the pieces get a bit of a coating of the salt. Let this stand for 15-20 minutes while you continue with other steps.
Prepare everything else:
Now, prepare your garlic. You only need to remove the paper sheath on the garlic cloves, but some people like to cut a large clove in half. Other people like the added heat of sliced garlic, as it gives a more garlicky taste to the pickles. A good rule of thumb is to add 1 clove of garlic for every full cucumber, so if your spears are quarters of a cucumber, then 4 spears to 1 clove of garlic.
Wash your dill under running water, and shake it to dry.
The bay leaf should be whole for this recipe.
Prepare your jars. Be sure they are sterilized, and the lids are in a hot water bath. Be sure the rims of the jars aren't chipped and the rings are not rusted and in good condition.
Prepare your vinegar solution. Use equal parts vinegar and water to cover the cucumbers in the jars. This ratio can be changed a little bit by adding up to twice as much vinegar as water, but don't go overboard. Take it slow. Start with equal parts and add a tablespoon more vinegar to the next batch and repeat until the flavor is just right for you. A good rule of thumb is to add half as much again, so for 1 cup of water, add 1-1/2 cup of vinegar.
If you are making 3 pints, this will mean 2 cups of water and 3 cups of vinegar. The amount you need of solution depends on how many jars of Kosher dill pickles you are making. If you know your ratio, you can always make more.
Bring your vinegar solution to a boil and keep it hot while you pack your jars.
If you are using mustard or caraway seeds, or both, pour those in (1/2 teaspoon of each) with the peppercorns. Add a bay leaf as you fill in the middle of the jar with spears of your cucumber.
Place the cucumber spears in the jar with the cut side facing out. Go around the outside of the jar and then fill in the middle. Push garlic between a spear and the glass in a couple places. Push the rest of the garlic into the middle.
Add fresh dill between the glass and the cucumber, and more in the middle area. You will use about 3 sprigs of fresh dill.
If you are packing rounds, add your spices and the bay leaf to the jar and then line the jar with fresh dill. Layer your cucumber rounds with the garlic. You want your jar to be attractive on the shelf, not just delicious.
Pour the vinegar solution over the contents of the jars and leave a 1/4" headspace in the jar. This allows the cucumbers to become pickles and settle. Use a knife or other canning tool to remove air bubbles in the filled jars. Top off with solution. Place a lid on the jar and add your ring to finger-tightness.
Process your pickles in a water bath following the USDA guidelines for your area and elevation. When finished, allow to cool to room temperature. Your pickles will be ready to eat tomorrow, but will keep for up to 2 years.
If you want these pickles right away, you can refrigerate them instead of processing. In that case, they should be used within 2 months.
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