We have successfully made some good pickles this year now that we have cucumbers coming out of the garden on a regular basis - we are averaging 15 to 40 cucumbers a day!! I think the main difference is #1 - the fact that we planted a pickling variety and, #2 - we are presoaking the cukes in a cold water bath for hours.
The simpliest recipe, and the one that reminds me of those Claussen pickles is this one:
- Pickling cucumbers - as many as you want to deal with
- garlic cloves (one per jar)
- dill seed
- white sugar
- pickling salt
- white vinegar
1. You can either slice your pickles into spears or chunks. Put them in a large bowl and put a bunch of ice cubes on top of them. Add water so that the cucumbers are covered. Let this mixture sit for a few hours. Some websites say to not let them sit for over 4 hours but, I accidently left some in the water ALL NIGHT until the next day. By the morning, the spears were so stiff, they were almost bending backwards.
2. Take clean canning jars. I use quart jars but, I also did some pints to give away to the grandparents. Holding the jar at an angle, lay the spears in the jar. Fill each jar until it is packed tightly.
3. Add one clove of garlic (cut into about 5 or 6 pieces), 1 teaspoon dill seed, 2 Tablespoons pickling salt and 1 Tablespoon white sugar to each jar.
5. Now fill the jar to the top with cold water.
6. Put a lid on the jar and give it a little shake.
7. Let the jars sit on the counter at room temp for a day or 2.
8. Refrigerate the jars and let them sit to get the flavor stronger. Supposedly the flavor will be stronger in a week or so - I couldn't tell you if that is the case or not since my kids devour them after the first day or 2!
Oh, one time I added some hot pepper flakes to one jar - it sure made for a good jar of spicy dills. Another time I added a half of a jalapeno - that didn't seem to make it as hot as the hot pepper flakes. Be creative . . . try adding some other things - maybe some onion slices . . . hmmm, now that's an idea to try . . .
I'll try to get the recipe up for canning pickles sometime here.