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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The Canning Kitchen Giveaway

The Canning Kitchen (2 of 3)

I am not new to canning.  I grew up in a canning household. It took me until recently to start doing it as an adult but now I’m thoroughly enjoying the fruits of my labor as does my friends, family and co workers.  I’m a big batch dill pickle canner.  As in I made over 50 jars a year, in one day actually.  My DH is  a the main reason for the excess; he can kill a jar in a day, however I have discovered through recipients of my pickles that they are truly the best around.

When I heard that fellow blogger Amy Bronee from Family Feedbag had published her first cookbook The Canning Kitchen I was excited not only for her success but also because I knew my group of foodie sisters would be jumping all over this to support her.  I have been promoting the ease and joy of canning to them for a while now and this book is an absolute blessing to get them started. Small batch recipes with simple instructions; over the last several weeks I have been relishing (sic) the news of each of their canning successes. Who doesn’t get excited when they hear the tell tale pop of sterilization.

The Canning Kitchen (3 of 3)

The variety of recipes from jams to jellies to relishes and sauces in The Canning Kitchen are ingeniously creative. Apple Pie or Raspberry Cocoa jam. Garlic Rosemary Apple Jelly. Fennel Thyme Relish. Even a experienced canner like myself easily found a recipe to try.  This Triple Red Pickle is a perfect condiment on the side of any dish or garnished on top of some spicy tacos.

The Canning Kitchen (1 of 3)

If you are new to canning and want to give it a go this book a try. If you have canned your whole life but want a little creative variety go buy this book. You can also take a chance at winning a copy below.

And make sure you check out these posts from my blogger friends.  Some are newbies while others have had a taste of canning rewards.  All will tell you the same thing.  This is the best resource out there!
Beer Hive Grainy Mustard from Sweet Twist of Blogging
Blueberry Sauce from The Brunette Baker
Bread and Butter Pickles from Planet Byn
Crunchy Dill Pickles from She Eats
LEmon Raspberry Jamalade from My Daily Randomness
Orange and Blueberry Marmalade from The Messy Baker
Peach Jam from Cheslea’s Healthy Kitchen
Peach Chutney with Garam Marsala from Libby Roach
Tomato Red Onion Relish from Devour & Conquera Rafflecopter giveaway

*I would like to point out that I received a copy of The Canning Kitchen free from the fabulous people over at Penguin Random House Limited (Thank you, thank you) however all opinions are solely my own.

Hand-Me-Downs

Anytime a family member passes down anything from one generation to the next it’s a special moment. A sort of passing of the torch. For me that moment happened the other day when my mom handed me all of her recipes.

I remember as a child my mom was the epitome of a domestic goddess. Our freezers were jammed with homemade pies like strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, and apple. Our cupboards were packed with jars of homemade pickles, beets, relishes and jams. Everything was made from scratch. I remember the whirl of the food processor as it chopped carrots for loaf bread with pineapple or zucchini. I remember the big pots boiling on the stove as it sterilized jars and sitting out on the front porch peeling baby onions that would soon be pickled.

Sadly as we got older and my mom went back to work the stock dwindled and eventually everything in our freezers and cupboards were eaten and replaced with store bought goods.

Society nowadays has become all about convenience. Double income families are the norm so homemade is becoming a thing of the past. Yet I have to wonder in the failing economy if a stockpile like the one I had growing up could save the day for many a struggling family.

As I look over the recipes I make a promise to try an accomplish 1/8th of what my mom did. Which still is a mountain of food.