Cucumbers are often one of the most reliable garden vegetables when it comes to producing a bounty of fruits and it seems the more you pick them the more they make. Here is a simple way to turn all those cucumbers into delicious pickles. This is a basic recipe that can be changed to meet your own personal needs easily. Small cucumbers, those less than 6 inches long, make the best pickles and they can be left whole or slices however you like them. Leaving the pickles whole will mean that fewer of them will fit in the jars so how many cucumbers to use for this recipe will depend on how they are prepared. This recipe will make around 4 quart jars of pickles so use that to figure out how many cucumbers to use. You do not want to pack the cucumber slices too tightly in the jars because the brining solution should flow freely around them.
Cucumbers - washed and prepared as desired
White Vinegar - 1 pint
Pickling salt - 1 cup
Fresh Dill - 1 medium bunch per quart jar
Alum - 1/2 teaspoon
Water - 2 1/2 quarts
Canning jars - 4 quart size jars with lids and rings
1. Clean the canning jars and place them in a large pot of boiling water to sterilize them. The jars have to be covered by the boiling water and need to boil for 10 minutes. The lids and rings should be sterilized also.
2. Place the sterilized jars, using a canning jar lifter, on a clean towel. Wash the dill and place one bunch in each jar. Place the lids and rings near the jars.
3. In a large pot bring the vinegar, salt, alum, and 2 1/2 quarts of water, to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes.
4. Place the cucumbers in the jars while the brining solution boils.
5. Pour the boiling brine over the cucumbers. I find it easiest to do this by using a large ladle as the solution has to be boiling when it is poured over the cucumbers.
6. After filling each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top, quickly wipe the rim with a clean cloth and place a lid on the jar. Screw on the ring just slightly snug and then move on to the next jar. The cucumbers have to be totally covered by the solution.
7. Set the jars aside for one day and then check to see if the lids have sealed. Push down on the lids to check for a good seal. Any lids that can be pressed down and made to click, are not sealed. There are two things you can do with unsealed jars. You can store them in the fridge for 3 to 4 week and use them just like you would store bought pickles or you can try to reseal them. To get them to seal, first replace the lid with a new one, put on a ring, and process the jar in a water bath for 10 minutes. The water in the water bath has to cover the jar completely and has to boil for the full 10 minutes. Don't over cook.
8. You can add other flavorings to your pickles to make them unique. Onion, cloves, garlic, and horseradish, are some to try. Let the newly processed pickles sit in a dark place for some 4 weeks before tasting them.