But this year, I'm sharing a simpler recipe for dill pickles, one specifically flavored for garnishing that traditional summer favorite: the grilled burger. This recipe is written more for the cook whose canner has a film of lime that needs scrubbing away from time to time.
The recipe comes from the Ball Blue Book, 100th Anniversary Edition. It first calls for 4 pounds of 4-inch cucumbers to be washed and sliced. Then combine the following in a saucepan: 6 tablespoons of canning salt, 4 1/2 C water and 4 C vinegar. Bring this mixture to a boil. As the boil is building, pack the cucumbers into hot jars with 1/4 inch headspace. To each jar add 2 heads of dill, 1/2 tsp mustard seed and 2 peppercorns.
Ladle the hot vinegar water over the cucumbers, still leaving the 1/4 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles, and adjust the lids and rings. Process 15 minutes in the boiling water canner.
Now for the canning tips...
1) If you need a handy guide for gauging the 1/4 to 1" headspace requirements in various recipes, I have this graphic in my canning book that is quite helpful:
2) If you grew burpless cucumbers instead of "pickling" cucumbers, expect your cucumbers to be limp and mushy as pickles. Better to use them for relish or fresh salads. Crispy pickles start with the "right" cucumbers.
3) Don't neglect removing air bubbles and cleaning the jar rims before applying the two-piece caps. These steps insure bacteria-free food and a good vacuum seal.
4) Finally, if you have trouble estimating 4 pounds worth of your garden's cucumbers and don't own anything but a bathroom scale, then try this trick a local farmer taught me: fill a pint box--those little green fibreboard ones that often hold berries for purchase--with cucumbers and you'll have close to a pound per box.
If you've been reading along for a while, you know my dill this year is prolific! Besides the pickles, I also made a sour cream cucumber onion salad with some of that dill and am getting ready to try a new Greek recipe with a little more of it. But recipes alone don't have to be the only use for my dill. I decided to bring a few of the larger flowerheads to grace the kitchen window. Now that the smells of summer no longer blow in through open windows--it's too hot for that--I have these dill flowers (along with a yellow cone flower for color) to bring that garden fragrance back into my kitchen once again.
As always, happy canning!