How to Make Dill Pickles and Preserving the Summer’s Bounty
I freeze blackberries, blueberries and strawberries (do not wash them before freezing or they will become mushy). You can pop them in freezer safe containers and freeze them as is, if you do not want added sugar, otherwise, you can prepare them in sugar packs.
We especially love peaches that are frozen in a sugar pack, which is basically a sugar syrup. You can make a light or heavy syrup. We prefer the light one since it is made with less sugar. You add a fruit protector to this mixture that will keep your peaches nice and “peachy” in color in the freezer. What could be better than juicy South Carolina peach slices over homemade vanilla ice cream in January?!
If you are interested in learning how to can and preserve foods, the Ball Blue Book – Guide to Preserving, is a great place to begin. You will also need to invest in a few gadgets and canners to get started, but I promise, the rewards are worth the time and investment and you will save on your food costs the more you rely on your own canned and preserved goods.
I made this recipe for Dill Pickles from the Ball Blue Book. I have always had great luck with their recipes, however, this one needed a bit of tweaking. I bought the smallest Kirby Cukes I could, but they still were too tall to use pint size jars, so I used quart jars and then had to use more of them than the recipe called for. They would not double stack properly in the jars. I also had to make two batches of the pickling mixture. Luckily, I had all of the extras on hand.
Be flexible with canning because sometimes you will end up with slightly more or slightly less that will fit in a jars after you prepare the recipe. I am always sure to have a few extra jars, lids and rims cleaned, sterilized and ready to go…just in case. It is not always a precise measurement.
The real science to this is to keep everything hot, sterilized and boiled at the proper temperature and for the proper amount of time (check adjustments for higher altitudes).
I hope you will try your hand at home preserving this holiday weekend. You will never want to buy frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, condiments or jams and jellies at the store again!
I hope you have a wonderful long weekend with family, friends and great food!
Have a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend!
Note: I could not fit the Kirby Cucumbers that I purchased into pint-size jars and did not double stack them in the quart jars, so I needed 8 quart-size jars and I had to double the amount of the pickling liquid. I also cut my cucumbers into quarters, rather than halves.
8 pounds 4-to 6-inch Kirby cucumbers, cut lengthwise into halves (I cut them into quarters)
3/4 cup sugar (I doubled this amount)
1/2 cup canning salt (I doubled this amount)
1 quart vinegar (I doubled this amount)
1 quart water (I doubled this amount)
3 tablespoons pickling spices (I doubled this amount)
Green or dry dill (1 head dill per jar) * I substituted 2 teaspoons dry drill seed per quart jar
1. Wash and scrub cucumbers; drain. Combine sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a large saucepot. Tie spices in a spice bag or cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine; add spice bag to mixture. Simmer 15 minutes.
2. Pack cucumbers into hot, sterilized jars (follow directions in canning book for time and temperature), leaving 1/4-inch headspace; put one head of dill (or dried dill seed) in each jar. Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps (that have been washed and sterilized). Process pints and quarts 15 minutes in boiling water canner.
3. Remove carefully from canner. Let sit between 12-24 hours before disturbing.
* My batch of pickles yielded 8 quarts of single layer dill pickles.
Recipe adapted from the Ball Blue Book – Guide to Preserving