In the supermarket, kosher dill pickles have become all the rage; these days it's almost impossible to find good sour dill pickles anywhere but in specialty shops, and then you have to pay far too much for them. As a result, more people are resorting to making their own pickles. The process is time consuming but reasonably simple and inexpensive. One point of contention is whether to use dry or fresh dill, but either can bring good results.
Things You'll Need
Pickling jars with disposable lids
Dried dill weed
Measuring spoons or cup
Buy the necessary equipment, including pickling jars (with disposable lids), cucumbers, dried dill weed, and any other ingredients called for by the recipe, such as garlic or peppers.
Clean the vegetables. Cucumbers often contain a protective waxy layer; wash with dish soap and warm water to remove this; rinse thoroughly.
Sterilize the jars. This usually entails boiling the jars and lids in a large pot of water for at least three minutes. Note: be sure the lids are not on the jars and fill the pot with the jars and lids in cool water; heat slowly on the stove to avoid breaking the glass due to extreme temperature shifts (glass expands when hot and contracts when cool).
Drain and cool the jars and lids. Do not run cold water over the heated jars; this will shatter them. Use oven mitts to place the jars on a dish rack and allow them to cool slowly over 30 minutes.
Measure the dry dill weed. Use 1/3 as much dry dill weed as you would use fresh herbs (drying herbs increases their potency by a factor of three). Add the dill weed to the jars, following your recipe.
Add the other ingredients to the jars, other than the cucumbers and vinegar. It's okay for all the pickling ingredients (such as dill, garlic, and peppers) to accumulate on the bottom of the jar.
Add the cucumbers to the jars. It's all right to crowd them. Put as many cucumbers or pieces of cucumber as you can into each jar.
Add the vinegar according to your recipe; seal the lids firmly onto the jars and store as instructed by the recipe.
The quality of the vinegar you use makes all the difference; buy the best available.
When using dill in any recipe that requires cooking, add the dill after cooking; heat destroys the flavor.
Be sure to sterilize the jars properly; bacterial colonies can form even in vinegar. At the end of pickling, if the fluid is cloudy without shaking it or the lid on top is bulging, discard the entire jar; it may be inoculated with botulinum bacteria.