Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sweet Garlic Dill Pickles

I've been making these pickles for a number of years now. I get so excited to see the mountain of Kirby cucumbers stacked high at the farmer's market. What's more, they usually sell for a bargain! You can use regular cucumbers, of course, but I like these as they are short, squaty, and fit perfectly in a pint jar. Apparently, Kirbies are "burp-free," or so they're advertised at the farmer's stand. Who knew?

Sweet garlic dills are not as sweet as bread and butter or sweet pickles. I know everyone is partial to one kind of pickle or another, but I find these are pretty well liked across the board. The great thing about this recipe is that it doesn't require an overnight soak, making  these pickles extremely quick to prepare. Simply bring the pickling liquid to a boil, pour over the cut cucumbers, and process for 10 minutes. It's as easy as that. In fact, if you're new to canning, this is a great beginner recipe as you can't really mess it up.

These sweet garlic dills always have a nice crunch. I find that letting them sit in their jar for about a month before opening allows their flavor to fully develop. A great snack on their own, or an accompaniment to a delicious sandwich. Sometimes I even put a jar of pickles out at parties, as it makes for fun informal eating. After all, who can resist a homemade pickle? 

Slightly adapted from Ellie Topp & Margaret Howard, The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving

10 to 12 (about 3 lb.) small pickling cucumbers (such as Kirby)
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
4 heads fresh dill or 4 tsp. dill seeds
1/2 tsp celery seeds
2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity) 
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. pickling salt (see notes below)
1/8 tsp. turmeric
4 pint mason jars, cleaned and sterilized

Cut the ends off each cucumber, or enough so that they'll fit nicely in the jars. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into quarters.

Place 1 clove garlic, 1 head fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dill seeds), and 1/8 tsp. celery seeds into each of the 4 jars. Tightly pack the cucumbers into the jars and set aside. 

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and turmeric in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the cucumbers in each jar, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace (if any of the cucumber slices begin to float to the surface, add another cucumber to the jar so that they are very snug and will not float). Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner (for more detailed information, see my step-by-step guide to canning here).

Yield: 4 pint jars 


  • Most grocery stores don't carry pickling salt, so look for it at specialty food stores or online. Pickling salt differs from other table salts in that it is free of additives that darken the pickles or turn the pickling liquid cloudy (such as iodine and anti-caking agents). In a jiffy, you can substitute pickling salt with kosher salt, but since the size of kosher salt is slightly larger than pickling salt, the measurements will differ when measured by volume. So if using kosher salt for this recipe, use 2 heaping tbsp. of kosher salt in place of 2 regular tbsp. of pickling salt.

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