Fast Favorite Garlic Dill Pickles

Dill PicklesThree years ago my husband and I bought a bank-owned property that probably didn’t even qualify as a Fixer Upper. It had been unoccupied for several years, the doors hung awkwardly on their hinges, except for one entryway that had long ago lost its door. Heat was in the form of a wood-burning stove, which meant that I had to cut kindling when I got home from work. There was no air conditioning, and it leaked from above and below. Think Little House on the Prairie meets The Money Pit.

A large number of people, including our real estate agent, wondered what we saw in this place. I should qualify WE. My husband, George, was savvy enough to have serious concerns, so I should tell you what I saw in it–a relatively sturdy house in an area with good schools. It was quiet, had easy access to the freeway and a great view of Mt. Diablo from the kitchen window. But the thing I liked best? It sat on an acre and a quarter of flat land.

I grew up in the ‘burbs. Great neighborhood, good schools, small town. I have no idea where I got the urge to be a farmer. My family was typically suburban: Mom planted flowers in the spring; Dad despised yard work. My grandparents grew tomatoes in their backyard but agriculture was not a big part of my family experience. I come from a long line of grocers, after all; we know how to sell it, not grow it.

Fast forward three years. After a serious remodel and many weekend warrior aches and pains, we now have a fruit orchard with 12 trees, a chicken coop, a Rocket Dog and a large garden with more than 25 wine barrels and a handful of large, flat raised beds. This is the first year I can really get into gardening the way I have been dreaming about, but that doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing.

Brace yourselves people, The Urban Farmer Wannabe is on the loose….

For now, I look forward to hot summer afternoons “putting up” what I see out my kitchen window and in the mean time I can get a head start at the farmer’s market for things like the easy Fast Favorite Garlic Dill Pickles listed below. If you haven’t canned anything before, have no fear. This recipe is a great way to get your feet wet. 

Fast Favorite Garlic Dill Pickles
Adapted from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving
By Eleanor Topp and Margaret Howard ©2001 Firefly Books Ltd.

Often called kosher-style dill pickles, these are quick to make. Use either small whole cucumbers or cut larger ones into quarters. For an additional interesting flavor, tuck a small dried hot red pepper into each jar (which I definitely recommend).
Yield: Makes 4 pint (500 mL) jars

8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3pounds/1.5kg)
2 cups (500 mL) white vinegar
2 cups (500 mL) water
2 tablespoons (25 mL) pickling salt
4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds (20 mL)
4 small cloves *garlic

Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber.

Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove hot jars from canner. Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 tsp (5 ml.) dill seeds and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of rim (head space). Process 10 minutes for pint (500 ml.) jars and 15 minutes for quart (1 L) jars as directed for Longer Time Processing Procedure.

*Garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. Nothing to be alarmed about, it is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic.

Tips from Epicurious
Pickling salt is free of the additives found in table salt, which can discolor homemade pickles. If you use regular table salt, the pickles will taste fine, but they may turn dark, with cloudy liquid. Do not substitute kosher salt, as the difference in texture can result in incorrect measurements.

“The proportion of water to vinegar necessary to inhibit the growth of organisms produces a very sour pickle,” says Topp. “While you can’t change this proportion, you can safely add up to one tablespoon of sugar if you want to slightly sweeten the pickles.”


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