The secrets? Have a supply of clean jars ready, start your big pot of water first, and work smart.
Easy and Quick Dill Pickles makes 4 1-pint jars
- 2 c apple cider vinegar
- 2 c water
- 1 Tbsp pickling salt
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes, divided
- 4 tsp dill seed, divided
- 2 tsp black peppercorns, divided
- 1 heaping pint pickling cucumbers (not quite 2 lbs)
Fill a big pot with water, submerge 4 clean and empty wide mouth pint jars, and bring the whole thing to a boil. Put the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer them over very low heat.
In another pot – I like to use my tall narrow ‘fourth burner pot‘ – combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring this to a rolling boil.
Trim the ends of the cucumbers, and cut them as you wish: spears, planks, or chunks. If they are small, you can leave them whole. It’s important to cut off the blossom ends of the cucumbers; they contain an enzyme that would make the pickles mushy.
When the big pot of jars has come to a rolling boil, take the jars out, pouring the water right back into the pot. Into each of the 4 sterilized jars put 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp dill seed, and 1/2 tsp black peppercorns.
Pack the cucumbers into the jars as tightly as you can manage without damaging the cukes. Slowly pour the hot brine into each jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Get rid of any bubbles: gently tap the jars to dislodge any bubbles or use a wooden chopstick. Check headspace again, and add more brine if needed.
Wipe the rims, place lids and screw on bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Let the pickles rest unopened for at least a week – it takes time for the pickle flavor to develop.
NOTE: if you have more cucumbers, and want to push for a bigger batch but still be quick: you will probably need a helper. Make a double batch of brine. After the empty jars have boiled for 10 minutes, remove them, and put them upside down on a clean towel. Put in the next 4 to sterilize – they’ll require 10 minutes, too. Cut your cucumbers at this time, and have your helper put what’s required into the first set of jars. Remove the 2nd set of jars from the boiling water, and turn off the heat.
Pack cucumbers into your first set of four jars, apply lids and bands, and put into the hot water. Turn on the heat again, bring the water to a boil, and process for 5 minutes, starting the time when the water is boiling. Meanwhile, fill the second set of jars. Add the boiling brine just before the 1st set of jars is finished in the waterbath.
When the 1st set of jars has processed for 5 minutes, remove them to a towel-lined counter. Wipe the rims and apply lids and bands to the second set of jars, then process them in the same way.
The reason you might want to make 8 jars of pickles in two batches of 4? You could do them all at one time in a bigger pot, holding 8 jars at a time, but I’ve found that it takes less time to bring a smaller pot of water to a boil. If you have a helper, it’s certainly quicker to fill the second set of jars while the first are processing.