Last month I went to my niece's First Communion and I tried some homemade pickles. Maria's grandfather made some spicy dills and they were FANTASTIC! I decided right then and there that I was going to make some of those.
First thing I did was go to the nearest produce stand. I purchased 15 pickling cucumbers. When I got home I washed them and put them on ice, in the refrigerator.
While that was chilling, I started a large pot of boiling water. In another sauce pan, I started my brine: 4 cups water, 4 cups vinegar, 3/4 cups pickling salt, and 3 Tablespoons of sugar. I brought that up to a boil.
While this was going on (yes, you need about 8 hands) I placed the jars in the dishwasher to get them sterilized. The lids and jars will go into another small saucepan so that they get hot right before the jars need to be sealed.
My next step was to prepare a pickling spice. Yes, you can buy it already made at the store but I love experimenting.
My pickling spice included: crushed cinnamon stick, mustard seed, celery seed, dill seed, peppercorns, mace, crushed bay leaves, and red pepper.
I then peeled 6 cloves of garlic for each jar and washed several stems of fresh dill.
At this point it is time to cut the cucumbers. I took each end of the cucumber off and quartered them.
By the time all of this is done, the jars are ready for stuffing. In each jar I put a little of the pickling spice, several stems of fresh dill and one garlic clove. Then I put the cucumber pieces in the jars, tight enough so that when the brine is poured in the pieces don't float. If that happens, they won't pickle and could spoil.
Ladle the brine into the jars, wipe the rims and seal them with the lids. Make sure you put the lids and rims in the hot water.
Pickles need to be processed in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes you can take the jars out of the boiling water and let them cool. As the jar cools, the lid will vacuum seal. To make sure of this, press on the center of the lid. If it gives, the jar did not seal. Simply put that jar in the refrigerator and use first.
As with any canning project, store the jars in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. If, after you open any jar, there is mold or some other funky substance, do not eat!
Hope you enjoy! I have to go pack now!