Not too sweet, not too sour – these fresh pack dill pickles are just right!
It was pickles that made me fall in love with home canning. My grandmother and her sisters all converged on Aunt Ginny’s house, toting pounds of backyard garden cucumbers. Children of the Depression, they had been following this same tradition all their lives. I was allowed to tag along, because at age ten I was old enough to stay out of the way, and happy enough to listen to their stories.
The house sat a little below the road, giving the farmhouse kitchen a dark and cozy feel. The reduced sunlight also probably kept the kitchen cooler – thus the best kitchen for four people to heat pots of vinegar and have multiple water bath canners boiling simultaneously.
I don’t have a copy of their recipes; most of them were probably written merely as notes like this Ripe Cucumber Pickle recipe. But when I made these Fresh Dills the other day, the aroma took me back 50 years, to Aunt Ginny’s kitchen and four self-reliant cooks in house dresses saving the harvest for winter. A rather loud and boisterous group, they argued, shared secrets, gave advice, and all went home with plenty of pickles at the end of the day.
Quick, Fresh Pack Pickles
Fresh pack pickles are simpler and quicker to make than fermented pickles. Some can just be sliced and ladled into jars with no brining period, while others, like this recipe, have a short brining period. Fresh pack pickles aren’t as crisp as fully fermented pickles, but they are completed in one or two days instead of a month or more. Be sure to let them sit for at least 3 weeks after processing for fully developed flavor.
Mixed Pickling Spices
You can purchase several different pickling spice mixes; and all are appropriate here. Or you can make your own. For this particular recipe I combined the following:
- 1 Tablespoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
I put them in a spice bag (or use a square of cheesecloth), and added a big chunk of fresh ginger.
Fresh Dill Pickles
- 6 pounds 3-4 inch cucumbers
- 3/4 cup pickling salt
- 5 cups cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup pickling salt
- 5 cups water
- 4 teaspoons mustard seed
- 4 teaspoons dill seed
- 2 Tablespoons mixed pickling spice
- Wash cucumbers, drain, and remove 1/8 inch off the blossom ends.
- Dissolve the ¾ cup of salt in water in a large bowl or non-reactive pot. Add cucumbers. Add enough water to cover cucumbers. Cover and let sit overnight.
- Drain and rinse cucumbers. Slice each one in half lengthwise.
- Tie mixed pickling spice in a spice bag.
- Pack jars with halved cucumbers. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seed and 1 teaspoon dill seed to each jar.
- Heat vinegar, sugar, ¼ cup salt, water, and bag of mixed pickling spices to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove spice bag. Ladle vinegar mixture over cucumbers in jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims with a damp paper towel, and cover with two-piece lids.
- Lower jars into a nearly boiling water bath canner, making sure that the water level is 2 inches above the jar lids.
- Process for 15 minutes. Let sit in canner for 5 minutes,then remove jars and cool for 12 hours.
- Makes 4 quarts of pickles.