With an abundance of pickling cucumbers and beets showing up at our local farms/markets Gail and I decided to take advantage. On Saturday afternoon we made 8 quarts of Dill pickles and 2.5 pints of Beet relish.
For the sake of variety we made 3 quarts of whole pickles, 3 quarts of pickle spears, and 2 quarts of pickle 'chips'
8 pounds 3-4 in long pickling cucumbers
4 cups white vinegar
12 cups water
2/3 cup pickling salt
16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
8 sprigs fresh dill
8 heads fresh dill
1. Wash cucumbers and place in receptacle with cold water and lots of ice. Soak in ice water bath for at least 2 hours but no more then 8 hours. Add more ice as necessary. While soaking cucumbers sterilize 8 quart size canning jars and lids.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the bring to a rapid boil.
3. In each jar, place 2 half cloves of garlic, one head of dill, and enough cucumbers to fill the jar. Then add 2 more half cloves of garlic and a sprig of dill to the top of each jar. Fill the jars with hot brine and seal the jars.
4. I found many conflicting ways to process the sealed jars in a hot water bath to make sure the seal. I processed them upside down in a sauce pan so that only the lids were covered with boiling water for 10 minutes. 6 of 8 jars sealed this way.
5. If jars have sealed store pickles for 8 weeks in a cool dry place before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Any jars that have not sealed can be kept in the refrigerator. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.
We added mustard seed and/or red pepper flakes to some of the jars. We used Dill from our garden, while the cucumbers came from Keown Orchards and the garlic is from Red Fire Farm both by way of our local farmers market.
The real difficulty is having to wait 8 weeks to eat them! We decided we couldn't wait so last night we opened one of the jars of spears just to give them a taste. After a few days the pickles were crisp and tasted good, but certainly needed more time.
Some of the extra Beet relish was eaten the next day in a sandwich.
3 lbs raw beets
1 tsp superfine sugar
1 lb shallots, finely chopped
2 cups cider or white wine vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
1 tbsp pickling spices, place in a cheesecloth or spice bag
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1. Place the beets in a large saucepan. Pour over enough water to cover them, and add the superfine sugar (I used plain granulated sugar as it would be dissolving so to me it doesn't matter). Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour or until the beets are soft and cooked. Drain and leave to cool. When cool enough to handle peel and dice the beets into small, even pieces.
2. Put the shallots and vinegar in a pan and cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Add the chopped beets and the bag of pickling spices. Stir the mixture, add the granulated sugar, and cook gently until the sugar has all dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook at a rolling boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes or until the mixture thickens.
3. Remove the spice bag, then ladle into sterilized mason jars, leaving 1/4in (5 mm) head space and making sure there are no air gaps. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove jars and let cool. Store in a cool, dark place. Allow the flavors to mature for 1 month and refrigerate after opening.
Relish should keep for up to 9 months.
We were expecting 4 jars of relish but ended up with 5 so we decided to set 4 aside to mature for a month as the recipe calls for and enjoy one right away. Gail enjoyed some on a veggie burger and I've had it with chicken salad in a sandwich. We used 5 of our own golf ball sized beets, the rest of the beets as well as all the shallots came from Allandale Farm.
Pickle recipe can be found at AllRecipes.com & the Beet Relish recipe is from Preserve It! which is a very visual excellent introductory cookbook to food preservation full of great tips and recipes for novice canners and preservers covering everything from fruits and vegetables to herbs, fish, and meats.