My grandmother on my father’s side had six kids. They was never much money, so they ate what they grew, raised, or picked. In order to keep them in good food all winter long, my Grandma Betty canned like a fiend. One of her greatest satisfactions was a pantry with shelves that were groaning from the weight of all of the quart jars of canned beans, pickles, beets, all sorts of fruit and sauerkraut. I have early memories of standing in the pantry downstairs, or “fruit room” as we called it, and looking up at the beautifully colored jars and feeling happy that all of that food was there just waiting for us. Grandma wasn’t one to outwardly show her affection, but canning was one of the ways she took good care of us.
Grandma also had her own style of canning, and I was twenty years old before I found out that it was not all that safe just to fill your pickle jars with super hot brine, put a lid on, give them a stern look and let them seal. No boiling water bath, no pressure cooker. The canning ladies from the county extension office would faint dead away.
I don’t can exactly like my grandmother. I abide by the rules of the USDA, for the most part. My canning sessions don’t have to be a hundred jars or more to make it worthwhile. But I do take the same satisfaction that she did in a group of sealed jars lined up on the counter like soldiers filled with the bounty of the harvest.
This pickle recipe is a combination of my grandma’s recipe and the quick dill pickle recipe from the USDA canning guide. We like dill, so I use both the dill weed and dill heads in each jar.
8 lbs of 3-to 5-inch pickling cucumbers
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
1-1/2 quarts vinegar (5% acidity)
2 quarts water
Whole mustard seed (1/2 tsp per pint jar, 1 tsp per quart jar)
Heads of fresh dill (1 head per pint jar or 2 heads per quart)
Dill weed (1/2 tsp per pint jar, 1 tsp per quart jar)
Garlic cloves (1 per pint jar, 2 per quart)
Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard, but leave 1/4 inch of stem attached. Combine vinegar, 1/2 cup salt, sugar, and 2 quarts water. Heat to boiling. Fill hot jars with cucumbers. Add spices to each jar. Cover with boiling pickling solution, leaving
rims1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process pints for 15 minutes and quarts for 20 minutes.