Zelaney Family Pickle Recipe
This recipe is super easy, and always results in delicious, crunchy dill pickles.
We use the “Hot Jars, Hot Brine, Hot Lids Method…” I find these pickles to be a lot crisper than if they were put through a hot water bath, and it takes a fraction of the time... The vinegar and salt combination preserves the cucumbers, and with the hot jars and brine, I find they seal just fine without using the hot water bath method.
**Note: Zelaney Farms no longer has pickling cucumbers available for pre-order… Find some fresh pickling cukes —as well as your garlic and dill — at your local farmers’ market
The ratio for cucumbers-to-jars is one pound per quart, so if you are trying to make 20 quarts of pickles, you will need 20lbs of pickling cucumbers.
You will need:
- Fresh pickling cucumbers
- Peeled garlic (2 cloves per jar)
- Dillweed (heads and/or ferns)
- Canning jars, lids + rings
- Vinegar (white or pickling)
- Coarse pickling salt
OPTIONAL *Hot peppers
HOT JARS, HOT BRINE,
HOT LIDS METHOD:
- I always pre-wash my jars in the dishwasher (sterilize cycle), and then on the day of pickle-mania I put them in the oven at 170F so they’re good and hot when I am ready to stuff them
- I keep my lids in a pot of hot water on the stove, not quite boiling...
- The cucumbers are bathed in a cold water bath in the sink, after they've been cleaned
- The brine is sitting at a hot simmer or low boil on the stove
4 cups white vinegar
8 cups water
2/3 cup coarse pickling salt
* heat until all salt is dissolved, and keep at a very low boil
— This recipe is perfect for pickling carrots and beans as well! The only thing we change is in the brine, by increasing the pickling salt to 1 cup per batch of brine, the rest is the same! —
Stuffing your Jars:
- Take a hot jar from the oven (oven mitts HIGHLY recommended!) and add 2 cloves of garlic and 2 heads of dillweed
- Lean the jar on its side (usually on a rolled up towel - it's still HOT!) and start stuffing with cucumbers... I will use the larger cukes in the bottom of the jar, and the smaller ones to fill the top... be careful not to stuff it too full, there should still be at least 3/4” between the top of the last cucumber and the rim of the jar
- If you’d like to spice up your pickles, you’re welcome to add a hot pepper of your choice to each jar, or just some chilli flakes for a milder heat
- Pour hot brine into the jar over the cucumbers, and fill until 3/4 inches from the top (just covering the last cucumber
* It is important to clean the rim of the jar before setting the lid, to ensure a good seal… Use a clean wet cloth to wipe the rim of the jar all the way around — this prevents salt from the brine sitting on the rim, which can compromise your seal
- Use tongs to collect a lid from the hot bath, and set it on the jar
- Use a canning ring to secure the lid and spin it on, just until it is hand tight (these can be cold, I just have them sitting in a bowl next to the stove)
- Be careful not to tip the jar, you may upset the bubble you’ve created under the lid, which will help create the seal
- Set the completed jars on hot pads (I use large towels) so they can seal (likely within 24 hours)
REPEAT until you’re pickle project is complete
** If you have the odd jar that doesn’t seal, fear not! Your pickles will be just fine… just put that jar in the refrigerator until it’s ready to eat!
— We make our dill pickles in August, and we have a house rule that we can open the first jar at Christmas, to give them a good amount of time to get good and dill-y… It’s a good idea to let them sit for at least 6 weeks prior to opening your first jar —
These pickles are always a hit at family gatherings, and once the prep is done, the actual pickling process doesn’t take too long…
Enjoy! And Happy Pickling!