One of my favorite memories growing up was staying at the farm where my grandmother grew up and helping my great aunt can her dill pickles. Actually, eating the pickles was better but canning them was still fun. I tried to get my aunt’s recipe – she’d long since forgotten it and neither of her daughters had a copy. Public Service Announcement: Save your recipes for your children! Food memories can be as much of a cherished heirloom as any you leave behind.
Anyway, I ended up using a recipe from the Ball Blue Book for Hamburger Dills.
4 pounds 4-inch cucumbers 2 heads fresh dill per pint
6 Tbsp. canning salt 1/2 tsp. mustard seed per pint
4 1/2 cups water 2 peppercorns per pint
4 cups white vinegar (5 % acidity) 1 garlic clove per pint (optional)
Wash the cucumbers and drain. Cut them into 1/4 inch slices (crosswise or lengthwise) and discard the blossom ends. Also start heating the water in the canner. I put a round cooling rack in the bottom and set my clean jars inside to heat up. I put the lids in a separate smaller pan to heat as well.
Combine salt, water and vinegar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Remove the jars one at a time from the water. Pack cucumbers leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 2 heads of dill, 1/2 tsp. mustard seed, 2 peppercorns, and 1 clove garlic (if you like) to each jar. Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Don’t use a metal knife to remove the air bubbles –use something plastic. Ball makes a great plastic tool just for this purpose and one end has notches to help you measure headspace. Adjust the two-piece caps.
By the way, I found a great way to peel the paper off my garlic. I just sat it on my silicone oven mitt, folded over the finger area, pushed down and rolled the clove in small circles.
Make sure there’s at least an inch covering the jars in the canner—two inches would be better. Process for 15 minutes at a rolling boil.