4 pounds pickling cucumbers, 4 inch in length
2 tablespoons dill seeds, or 4-5 heads fresh dill
1/2 cup salt, canning or pickling salt
1/4 cup vinegar, 5% acidity
8 cups water
2 cloves garlic (optional)
2 dried red peppers (optional)
2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices (optional)
An average of 14 pounds of cucumbers are needed for every 7 quarts pickles.
Use only a food grade plastic bucket, crock, or glass container. Wash container throughly.
Wash cucumbers and cut off 1/16 inch slice from blossom end and discard. Leave 1/4 inch stem attached. Layer cucumbers, dill and spices in container. Dissolve salt in vinegar and water and pour over cucumbers. Place a clean plate on cucumbers and weight it down with 2-3 clean quart jars filled with water. Lids on quart jars must be secure. This will keep cucumbers immersed in brine during fermentation. Store for 3-4 weeks at 70 to 75 degrees temperature. Check several times a week and remove surface scum or mold. Caution: If pickles become soft, slimy, or develop a disagreeable odor, discard them.
To check pickles, cut a cucumber in half. Pickles are fully fermented when they are the same color clear through. Pickles may be refrigerated in the brine for up to 6 months – or process using either method below.
1. Drain brine and strain through a filter (straining brine will reduce cloudiness). Pack pickles into jars. Heat brine slowly to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Pour brine over pickles leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust lids and place in boiling water bath. When water returns to a boil, time 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts for elevations between 1,000 and 6,000 feet.
2. This method produces a higher quality product. Drain and strain brine as for previous method. Pack pickles into jars and pour brine over pickles, leaving 1/2 inch head space in jar. Remove air bubbles in jar. Place jars in a canner kettle filled with warm water (120 to 140 degrees). Add hot water to a level 1 inch above the jars. Heat the water to 180-185 degree temperature. Maintain this temperature for 30 minutes. Check temperature with a jelly or candy thermometer to be certain water temperature does not drop below 180 degrees (spoilage will occur) or go above 185 degrees (soft pickles will result).
Store pickles at cool temperatures. Long storage at temperatures above 70 degrees will result in soft pickles.