Garlicky Dill Pickles

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My Mom was never an exciting cook.  She always had 7 or 8 meals that she cooked for us regularly.  Never one to experiment there were certain smells that would emanate from the kitchen that would either make us really excited (“yay! macaroni and cheese casserole!”) or give us a sense of dread (“boiled potatoes and cabbage again”).  Not to knock her skills, I would say 6 out the 8 were really enjoyable.  Some I make myself today.  But there was one thing my Mom did in the kitchen that blew me away; canning and preserving.

At the end of summer for a week and a half our kitchen became a battle-ground. First it would be dozens and dozens of pies.  Then loaves and loaves of bread; zucchini, carrot, carrot and pineapple, banana.  And then she would heat up the house for days on end. Pickled onions, sweet relish, chili sauce, pickles both garlicky and sweet. Jams and preserves.  Our deep freezer and pantry had rows and rows of jars and baked goods. I never realized how important it was in our household until she stopped doing it.  We grew older and busier as children with activities and play-dates. She went back to work. And finally the last jar was emptied and the bottom of the freezer could be seen. Grocery store trips now included store brands of items I was previously used to seeing my mom’s loopy handwriting on stating dates and times of creation.

I can understand why she stopped.  It was a lot of work. In some cases it was just cheaper to buy it.  Those are the reason that it has taken me 20-plus years to venture into canning for the first time myself.  It’s work. It takes time and space that I don’t necessarily have.  It’s stressful waiting for the lids to pop signalling this jar isn’t going to kill anyone. Trust me I work in Microbiology at the hospital, this stresses me out 100 times more I think than the average person.  But when those little pops begin and weeks later your DH exclaims “those are the best pickles” he has ever had, I can understand why my Mom did all of it; for our smiling faces as she spread home-made jam on our toast.  For knowing my dad has a slice of banana bread as a treat in his lunch over a long day at work.  For seeing the rows and rows of jars knowing she made them with love for her family.

Here’s the recipe I used to make those pickles.  I started out small only making 6 jars.

Garlicky Dill Pickles
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Ingredients

  • pickling cucumbers, 6-8 per jar
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp pickling salt
  • dill seed, 1 heaping tbsp per jar
  • 6-36 garlic cloves, 6 cloves per jar

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or sink fill with cold water and 1 cup pickling salt. Let sit over night.
  2. Drain and cut into slices or wedges.
  3. Wash jars thoroughly in hot, soapy water.
  4. Place jars in canning pot and fill with hot water to a level 3" above top of jars.
  5. Cover and bring to boil over medium high heat, 30-60 minutes. Once boiling reduce heat and simmer until ready to use.
  6. In a small saucepan bring water to a simmer. Add the lids and remove from heat keeping covered.
  7. In a medium saucepan bring salt, water and vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat, keep warm and covered.
  8. Working one jar at a time, remove jar dumping out hot water. Add dill and 3-6 cloves of garlic in bottom.
  9. Pack in as many cucumber wedges as you can, leaving 1" headspace.
  10. Place funnel over jar and carefully ladle in vinegar leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove air bubbles and add more liquid as needed.
  11. Wipe any liquid from rim of jar, remove disk from hot water and place on jar. Screw on band until finger tight.
  12. Repeat with remaining jars.
  13. Place filled jars back in canner and return to a boil. Start your timer as soon as water reaches a boil and process for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  14. Using canning tongs remove jars to counter and let rest at least 24 hours.
  15. Any jars that have not sealed (popping sound) should be refrigerated.
  16. Always label jars with date they were made.
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