Dill Pickles- Makes 7 pints
6 lbs. pickling cucumbers (approximately 3-4 cucumbers per jar)
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
4 tablespoons pickling salt
7 garlic cloves, peeled
7 teaspoons dill seeds
3 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
4 large, fresh grape leaves
Soak freshly picked cucumbers in a tub of ice water overnight. Remove and dry the cucumbers, then cut off each end of the cucumber, and slice, dice or spear as desired.
Prepare jars, rings, and lids by heating them in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Start your water bath now, so when the jars are ready, the water bath will be at a rolling boil, so the pickles won’t be sitting in the water for longer than necessary. (This helps to keep them crisp.)
In a medium sauce pan, over medium high heat, bring vinegar, water and salt to a boil. In each jar, add 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon of dill seed, and 1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns to the bottom. Pack cucumbers tightly into each jar. Pour hot brine over cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Run a plastic utensil on the inside of the jar to release any air bubbles. Add 1/2 of a grape leaf on top of the cucumbers. This provides tannins, which is another way to help keep the pickles crisp. Wipe top of jar with a clean damp cloth, add hot lid and band.
Place filled jars in a hot water bath. Cook at a steady boil to process the jars until fully sealed, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let jars rest 5 minutes before removing and cooling on a clean, dry towel placed on kitchen counter or table. Check that the lids have sealed after 24 hours, and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
(It’s best to wait at least 2 weeks before eating, so the cucumbers have time to pickle in the brine.)