It's fresh-pack pickle time.
My husband, who tends our garden, told me I'd better figure out something to do with our pickling cucumbers ASAP. We were about to be overrun, he told me. (These guys were big, green and bumpy, and we did it all with rain barrels).
I looked through our canning book and found a recipe that was fresh packed, meaning we didn't have to ferment or cook the cukes ahead of time. I' for fermented pickles, but we were having a heck of a time finding an appropriate crock or glass barrel for it.
Possible error No. 1: Dill, not dill heads.
My husband got the ingredients while I was at work, but couldn't find dill heads.
The stores carry fresh dill, but not fresh dill heads. Dill heads are a requirement of pickle making. How can stores not offer it at all? (My mom visited three stores and had the same problem.) At least the dill being sold was oganic. We probably should have added to dill seed, but we didn't.
Possible error No. 2: Too few cukes
We were a few short of the four pounds we needed, but pressed on anyway. I didn't pack the jars too tightly because we didn't have all four pounds. But pickles are supposed to be packed tightly. We found out why when they came out of the canning bath. They'd shrunk down, leaving much of our cans pickle-less. The books say this is bad. My mom says it's probably OK. I believe my mom.
Since they were fresh-packed, we won't know how they turned out for at least another month. We could end up with nothing to show for our troubles, but lessons learned.
Or we could end up with largely organic hamburger dills created from our home-grown cukes. And that's not bad at all.
(The photo is of the cukes before they were plunged into water so hot that it shrivels the most manly of cukes and turns them pickle-ward. ... Actually it just helps create the seal. The surface the cans are resting on is my too-cool-to-believe-it's-mine 1940s stove. It's got four doors and a ton of space between the burners, perfect for resting hot jars. I got it from Craig's List, saving it from a landfill and saving the energy and resources needed to make me a new stove. Needless to say, I also saved a bundle. And that beauty fits perfectly in my 1955 kitchen. A sad, narrow modern oven would look pathetic. It might have been born long before Energy Star was a twinkle in Uncle Sam's eye, but it's green in its own way.)