I absolutely love gardening, especially this time of year. The beautiful colors, aroma, flavors, textures and intense homeyness created by the abundance of our harvest never ceases to amaze me. Today it was all about the garlic dill pickles and working side-by-side with my daughter to create a masterpiece to be displayed with pride at next year’s county fair.
We began by harvesting the bounty. Lemon and pickling cucumbers were begging to be processed. This is our first year growing lemon cucumbers so we searched online for a recipe to use them. We stumbled across a great recipe on Julie’s Jazz and knew we had to try it.
This is her fair winning recipe:
Granny’s Lemon Cucumber Pickles
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 c. white vinegar
-1 c. water
-1 large whole garlic clove (cut in half to expose the flavor)
-3 sprigs fresh dill
Sprinkle salt in the bottom of your quart jar. (Note: You can use more salt if you like. Granny cut it down considerably to make the pickles more heart healthy for she and my dad). Throw in 1 clove of garlic and one sprig of dill. Fill jar ½ of the way up with washed and quartered lemon cucumbers (peeled or un-peeled, your choice). Granny did not peel hers. Top first layer of cucumbers with another sprig of dill. Fill remaining ½ of jar with cucumbers. Top with one more sprig of dill.
Meanwhile bring vinegar and water to a boil. Pour boiling vinegar and water over cucumbers (fill jar). Place lids in separate small pot of boiling water for a few seconds to heat the seal. Place seal and ring on jar. Secure ring tightly. After a while you will hear a pop from the lid, this tells you that the jar is sealed. Let sit for at least two weeks. Shelf stable. Refrigerate after opening.
This recipe is for one jar. It can be adjusted accordingly for multiple jars.
We made a few changes to the recipe. We increased the salt to 1 teaspoon and processed the pickles in a water bath canner for 10 minutes as recommended by our local extension office. Something about home bottled goods demands the artistic touch. We experimented cutting the cucumbers in different sizes and shapes. Surely these pickles are destined to win Kristi a blue ribbon at the next county fair.
It’s pretty exciting to realize that we had produced all of the ingredients except the pickling salt and vinegar in our very own garden. The dill is what makes these cucumbers into a tasty deli item. It is amazingly easy to grow and harvest and it makes all of us hungry for dill pickles when we weed our garden.
Dill contains anti-oxidants and can help prevent disease along with a mountain of other benefits. Learn more about the health benefits at Nutrition and You.
Fresh dill is best, but it can easily be dried for out-of-season use. Culinary uses require both dill seed and dill weed. Dill seed is easily captured by harvesting the seed heads and allowing them to dry in a paper bag. A little gentle shaking and the seeds are released into the bottom of the bag.
Dill seed can be used for next year’s crop. It is a favorite among organic gardeners. Dill is one of the best sources of nectar for beneficial insects in the garden while repelling aphids and spider mites. It is also reported to repel squash bugs, however the squash bugs still invaded my squash plants this year even with all the dill.
Dill grows like a weed and will reseed itself year after year. I usually save seeds so I can strategically locate it in my garden, but I can always count on volunteer dill plants gracing my garden.
As a prepper, dill is a must-have plant for me. It is super hardy and is loaded with nutritional, medicinal, and flavoring benefits. Not to mention it’s usefulness to the organic garden and prize-winning characteristics to assure victory at the county fair.