I’ve never made dill pickles before, since I always seem to gravitate toward making jam. But last week, when faced with a box of beautiful little cucumbers, I couldn’t resist the urge to try my hand at something new. Much to my surprise, I found pickles to be easier than jam, since the ingredients require minimal prep compared to fruit. It is more of an assembly line than cooking. I’m very proud of my dozen jars of delicious-looking dill pickles, but still have a few days to go before I can crack one open to sample. So maybe it’s a bit early to be sharing the recipe, but it does come from the reliable Williams-Sonoma “The Art of Preserving” cookbook, so I’m confident it’s foolproof.
Classic Dill Pickles
3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp kosher salt
6 tbsp pickling spice
6 large mature dill heads, or 6 tbsp dill seeds + 24 fresh dill sprigs
24 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
6 lb Kirby cucumbers, each about 1.5 inches in diameter, cut into 1/2-inch slices (I used whole small cucumbers)
Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids.
In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the vinegar and salt. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt.
Meanwhile, in each jar, place 1 tbsp pickling spice, 1 dill head (or 1 tbsp dill seeds and 4 dill sprigs), 4 garlic cloves, and 6 peppercorns. Layer the cucumber slices or place whole mini cucumbers in jar, making sure to pack tightly and avoid large gaps. Fill the jars to within 3/4-inch of the rims.
Ladle hot brine into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.
Process the jars for 7 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Let the jars stand undisturbed for 24 hours and then set them aside for 2 weeks for flavours to develop. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
Makes 6 one-pint (500 mL) jars