Homemade pickles are leaps and bounds better than store bought. Great pickles are very easy to make, it just takes the right cucumbers, ingredients, and preparation.
My grandma taught me how to make pickles when I was first married. She said the recipe and tips she used were handed down from generation to generation. My grandma has since left this world, I will always remember he tips and cherish the times I made pickles with her.
First, pick small and firm cucumbers. The smaller the cucumbers make the crispest pickles. If pickling larger cucumbers just make sure they are firm. If they are not firm when they are picked they will not be crisp once they are pickled.
It is best to make the pickles the day the cucumbers are picked but they can be used later. The secret to using them later is not to wash them. For some reason once the cucumbers are washed, they become limp and will not make crisp pickles. When ready to pickle them be sure to wash them thoroughly with a vegetable brush to get all of the dirt off of them.
1 quart cider vinegar
3 quarts of water
1 cup of pickeling salt
Cook this until hot. It can be used on the fresh cucumbers and then whatever is left over can be saved to use later.
1 ceyenne pepper
1 clove of garlic
2 heads of fresh dill
Place all of this in the bottom of a quart jar and then pack the cucumbers tightly.
Add 1/8 tsp to each quart of pickles. The alum helps keep them crisp. It does not seem to add anything to the flavor but if it is omitted the pickles are not quite as crisp.
Do not place the pickles in a bath. This will prevent them from being crisp. Put the brine on to boil while preparing the jars and cucumbers. This way it will be extremely hot when it is poured over the pickles.
Make sure the lids have been placed in water after it has boiled. Once the brine is at a rolling boil pour it over the cucumbers, place the lids and rings on and seal. Then invert the jars for ten minutes.
These pickles are an old family recipe and come out crisp every time as long as the cucumbers are crisp and the pickles are not placed in a bath. The alum is extra insurance that they will remain crisp but the cucumbers and preparation are the main secret to making great dill pickles.
It is important to make sure the jars seal and to store the pickles in a cool place. This way the seal will last. Once the jar is opened, it will last in the refrigerator for weeks however the pickles are so delicious that they usually are not around long enough to find out how long it takes them to go bad.