canning mayhem: GIANT dill pickles – photo essay and recipe

my life has pretty much revolved around canning as of late.  well, that and being ill, and caring for poor oats, who came down with pneumonia.  fun times at our house, yessirree!  at least all the steam from the canning kettle is good for easing the coughs.

as i mentioned earlier, i’m cutting my canning costs drastically this year by trading my skills in exchange for a portions of produce.  the angry black duck and i *did* pay for 125 lbs of tomatoes which we canned this past saturday (a story in itself), but aside from that i’m going with what people give me.

for the most part, it’s an excellent arrangement, because i’d otherwise never be able to afford the variety of organic fruits and veggies that are coming my way.  the disadvantages are that i hafta make what people want, and i sometimes get stuff that i wouldn’t choose to work with, such as… HUMONGOUS ZUCCHINIS.


i have 10 of these. ten.

or, say, 50 lbs of gigantic lemon cucumbers.


in case you think this photo is something i stitched together using my incredible digital imaging prowess, here’s some further proof, aka the current state of our fridge:


the requested product from the supplier of these magnificent fruit is dill pickles.  lots and lots of them.

i wasn’t particularly keen on the dill pickle recipe in the joy of cooking (weak brine), nor any others from the cookbooks that were laying around, so i decided to try out the garlic version over at food in jars, which is by far my most favourite food blog.

first things first, however:  how the hell do i deal with stupidly large cucumbers?


as you can see, they’ve gotten so ripe that the seeds are too developed to be nice eating, so i decided to scoop out all the innards.


once that was done, it was logical to make short spears.


i tried them out in a jar, and they fit perfectly!  so, i got everything else organized:  clean jars from dishwasher into oven to stay hot (and sterile), brine on one burner, hot water bath on another, plus bowls of peeled garlic cloves and some fresh dill blossoms on the counter.  i changed the recipe a little: omitted the chili and peppercorns, added the fresh dill because i had it on hand, and substituted regular white vinegar for the apple cider vinegar called for in Marisa’s recipe. also, i doubled everything, in an attempt to get through as many of the cukes as possible.


i really like the way the fresh dill looks, pressed up against the glass like a preserved botanical specimen.


this is the finished product, cooling after the water bath.  i only ended up making 14 jars, which means that i’ve got at least a couple more evenings of canning ahead of me before the fridge is cleared out.  even then, it’ll be a brief respite, because the same farmer has tomatillos that need to be salsa-fied and there’s more zucchini coming too.  egads.

fg’s giant garlic dill pickles (adapted from Garlic Dill Pickles at

Makes approximately 14 pints (depending on size of cucumbers pieces)

8 lbs sliced sliced pickling cucumbers (in spears!)
8 cups vinegar
8 cups water
3/4 cup pickling salt
28 peeled
garlic cloves (2 per jar)
14 teaspoons dill seed (1 per jar)
14 fresh dill blossoms (seed heads)

wash and slice the cucumbers, removing seeds if necessary.

bring vinegar, water and salt to a simmer in a big pot.

get your hot water bath going now too, so that it’s boiling when you’re ready to process.

put two garlic cloves, a dill blossom, and a teaspoon of dill seeds into each hot sterilized jar. arrange the cucumber spears in the jar, firmly packed.  avoid doing them too tightly, or your jars will break in the water bath.  trust me, i’m an expert at breaking things, especially while canning.

add hot brine to jars to within ½ inch of rim.

add lids and screw bands, then process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

i usually wait 2 weeks to eat pickles, so that they have time to get all yummy.  i don’t know these ones will taste over time, seeing as they’re bizarre fruit and it’s a new recipe, therefore will hafta let you know the verdict… i sure am looking forward to finding out.


8 responses to “canning mayhem: GIANT dill pickles – photo essay and recipe

  1. I swear those zucchinis are bigger than the ones we saw at the fair! However, my memory of that is hazy… we were both sick then too. Come to think of it… we did go to a fair didn’t we?

    • i recall *something* about onion rings… that might have been a fair. there were goats involved too, as i recall… and some llamas.

  2. I have to tell you, those garlic pickles are addictive. I’ve also made pickles with zucchini using the same brine, as I got boat loads from my CSA this year. Yay for pickles!

    • hurrah, indeed!

      good to know re: the zukes… i think i’ll do some of those massive ones i’ve got this same way, as dill pickle spears.

      thanks for dropping by, and for blogging!

  3. Canning and great photos – I missed your updates while I was on vacation!

    • welcome back! er… wait… i guess you were actually closer while on vacation, geographically-speaking… gawd, the internet is weird.

  4. you can make pistachios by putting the nut into a jar of vinager and baking soda

    • feralgeographer

      hmmm… could you clarify a little? i mean, isn’t a pistachio already a pistachio, without requiring any thing else to be added? also, combining vinegar and baking soda would cause an acid/base chemical reaction… fun to watch, but perhaps not that useful for pickling. but hey, please correct me if i’m wrong!

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