Dill pickles

Our canning endeavors always include pickles. My (Charles’) brother Michael grew the most amazing cucumbers a few years ago. We were in Tennessee buying up some of his produce and picked up a batch of the ones labeled “Canning Cukes.” They are great to garnish any summertime meal with and a perfect snack on the go. Be careful. The canning bug can get a hold of you and not let go.

5 pounds (2¼ kg) cucumbers, sliced into spears, ends removed
½ cup (100 g) salt
3 cups (300 g) ice cubes
2 cups 500 mL) water
4 cups (1 L) distilled vinegar
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons dill seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons peppercorns
6 1 pint (473 mL) jars, along with 6 new jar caps and canning jar bands

  1. Once the ends are removed from the cucumbers, cut them to fit into pint-size jars. In a large bowl, layer cucumbers, salt, and ice cubes. You’ll want to drain and rinse them in about 2 hours.
  2. Boil enough water in large pot to cover standing jars.
  3. Once water is boiling, use canning tongs to lift jars in and out of the water. On your first jar, pour the boiling water into a bowl containing your jar caps to soften the rubber seals.
  4. Place the hot, sterilized jars on a towel-covered kitchen surface.
  5. Combine water, vinegar, garlic, dill seed, celery seed, and peppercorns in medium saucepan. Be sure you have a nonreactive pan.
  6. Bring the brine to a boil. Meanwhile, drain/rinse your cucumbers and stuff them snuggly into each jar. Once brine is boiling, pour mixture over cucumbers in jars. You’ll want to leave some space toward the top of the jar (about ½ inch).
  7. Using a chopstick or skewer, poke and prod around the jars to release any bubbles that may still be lingering.
  8. Once you have the jars filled, use a magnetic tool to place the caps on each jar. Be careful to put them on straight. Screw on bands to just fingertip tight. If you don’t have a canning rack to lay in the bottom of your pot, just lay some extra jar rings in the bottom so the water can boil around your jars.
  9. Gently place jars into pot of hot water (from before) You’ll want there to be 1–2 inches of water covering the tops of the jars when they are all in there. Bring water to boil and leave boiling for 10 minutes. Turn heat off, remove lid to pot and let sit for 5 minutes.
  10. Using canning tongs, remove jars individually onto towel and let sit for 24 hours. Check seals and store in cool place for up to a year.

Variation—Throw a hot pepper in a jar or two to add some kick.

Tips & Tricks—Bite the bullet and get a canning kit. You can find them online for around $20. You’ll also need the jars and tops. You can reuse the jars and bands each year, but you will need new caps.