Crock Dill Pickles

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I've always loved dill. Every year, my dad used to make a big crock of dill pickles and they were my favorite after-school snack. I ate them by the bowlful. My parents joked that someday I would walk down the aisle carrying a bouquet of dill, and one day (true story) I did.

Dad's recipe seemed to evolve over the years. One year I remember they were incredibly hot. One year I remember he decided the allspice had to come out of the pickle seasoning. But the core of the recipe remained the same.

When I decided to make my own pickles, I looked up a few recipes and gave it a go. After about three failures, I put my tail between my legs and asked Dad for his recipe. I still think it's fair game to tinker with the spices since he always did. So here is his recipe, with my current spice variation. I added garlic and decreased the pickling spice. I think I have it down now.

Thanks, Dad.

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For the brine:

2/3 cup non-iodized salt

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

5 quarts water

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For the crock:

12 lbs. pickling cucumbers

A bunch of dill (Wegman's always has large bunches at just the right time)

1/2 bottle pickling spice

25 cloves of garlic

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1. Wash the cucumbers and cut off 1/4" from the blossom end.

2. In a large crock, layer cucumbers, dill, garlic and pickling spice.

3. In a large pot, mix the vinegar, water and salt to make the brine. Stir until the salt is dissolved.

4. Pour the brine over the cucumbers to cover them completely. If they are not completely covered, mix a little extra brine as needed.

5. Place a plate on top of the cucumbers, and a jar filled with water on top of the plate to keep the cucumbers completely submerged. Cover the entire crock and jar with a dish towel.

6. Keep the pickles in the crock for no more than 1 week. Taste-test to decide when they are ready. As they pickle, a white, bubbly scum will form on the top. Ewww.

7. Drain and rinse the pickles. Prepare a fresh brine of the same strength and can them, in quart jars, for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. I add some fresh dill to the jars as well. Save a few quarts in the refrigerator un-canned. Those are always the best.