The keys to a good Dill pickle in my opinion in to let the cucumbers set in ice water overnight if possible (that helps make them crispy), use the freshest spices as you can possibly get your hands on, and let your pickles set up for at least 2 weeks to cure.
These pickles can be made in a water bath canner or a stock pot with a wire rack in the bottom, just make sure that your jars do not knock together or they will break. Pickles, tomatoes, and jams can be canned in a water bath canner everything else must be canned in a pressure canner.
Step 1: Ingredients
4 large cucumbers, about 8 inches long
Ice water - if you have time, soak your cucumbers overnight, if not see step 3
1 qt. white vinegar
1 cup. sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 small onions, peeled - We get Sweet Vidalia onions here, I usually put slices of them in instead
1 tsp. mixed pickle spice - Here is where I put1/2 mixed spices + 1/2 Kosher spices
*Optional - Slices of celery, 1 in each jar - I have seen it with this recipe and without, I did not use it with this batch and and never noticed a difference in the taste. Although, be aware that celery does have a high amount of sodium, so if that is an issue - you may want to add it.
If you have more than 4 large cucumbers or you are in doubt as to how much brine you need; especially if you are using a different shape - wholes vs spears, etc. you can double or triple this and keep it in the fridge for later.
**Southern Trivia - Before Gatorade and even today - people here in the South and possibly elsewhere, will drink pickle juice or the pickle brine to replenish their natural body salts especially when it is very hot out. There are some stores here that even sell it frozen as a treat.
Step 2: Let's Head to the Cucumber Patch!
Personally, I LOVE the Farmer's Market!! You get the best deals, on the freshest produce, from the farmer's themselves. Make sure you buy off the trucks, not from the year-round stalls. The year-round stalls, bought it from the trucks (that morning) and marked up the price and passed the mark-up on to YOU!!
Besides, if you get to know your local farmers (where your food comes from), they will put stuff back for you. If they know you are meeting them @ say 7am and you need tomatoes, then they will save the BEST tomatoes for you because you did business with them before. But, be EARLY!!! They are usually early, and they will tell you what time to meet them to get the best pick of the produce.
If you are in any doubt or this in your first time canning anything, a great resource is your local county extension office. Every county in the nation has one. The best part is, most of the recipes or methods are going to tailored to your specific area. http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/ I have always gotten great information, and most times you get someone on the phone who it more than happy to help you find it. They usually have most of it online, just sometimes you have to call and let them do the search and send you the link or the handouts.
For you International folks, I am not sure about you guys, but I bet that your Government has (some sort of) Co-operative extensive agency with information on how-to grow, keep,and cook food properly. Most governments do. It is cheaper to put out this kind of information than to make someone well once they have gotten sick after a bad case of food poisoning.
Step 3: Making Pickles
*If you have soaked your cucumbers overnight in ice water you do not need to soak them again.
Wash cucumbers, do not pare (cut off the ends). Cut lengthwise into 6 to 8 strips, depending on size. (You can also make them into other shapes, just remember, you may need to make more brine, it will save in the fridge for later.) Place in shallow baking dish. Add enough ice water to cover strips. Let stand for 3 hours. Sterilize a quart jar, leaned in hot water until ready to fill.
In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar with sugar and salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils. Drain cucumbers, pack into jar with +celery stalk, onions and pickling spices. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch of top, but covering cucumbers completely. (Make sure to wipe the rim free of any debris, or it will not seal)
Remove any air bubbles from the jars that you can. I use a chopstick, but there are tools out there specifically for this.
+Celery is optional, see ingredient list
**Be careful when you are handling these materials as they are all very hot you may get burned.
Step 4: Placing Them in the Bath
Make sure that tighten your rings before placing in the bath.
While you are getting your jars filled you can keep your empty jars in hot water, and I like to place my filled jars back into the hot water too. This keeps them from going into shock when they are placed into the hot water bath. You don't want them to break in your water bath and all that work to go to waste.
If I have 6 large jars heading for the bath I will use less water. Lets say 1 2/3 way up to ring #2.
Close the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
*Note you should simmer lids @ a low temp until they get tiny bubbles on the (it will be on most lid/ring instructions)*
Increase processing time: 5 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 ft; 10 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000ft; 15 minutes for 6,001 to 8,000 ft; 20 minutes for 8,001 to 10,000 ft.
++If you like my instructable please don't forget to vote in the Canning Contest!! Thank You!!