Pickling is really simple. You need pickles (these are the big dill-sized ones), dill, ingredients for brine, jars and lids. First, dump your pickles in a bath of cold water. Give them a good swish and then let them chill for about two hours. This is a good time to also clean out your jars- scrub them well in HOT water and set aside to fully dry.
Then find some sort of a brush with medium bristles to really clean your pickles. You can use a toothbrush, a mushroom brush, whatever. The dirt just needs to be totally gone. Rinse them thoroughly and let them fully dry on a towel.
Once your pickles are ready for their jars, start the brine. This recipe will fill 7 quart jars packed full with pickles. I halved this recipe and still had a little leftover.
3 quarts waters
1 quart white vinegar
3/4 cup canning salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp (or more!) of turmeric
Put all ingredients in a saucepan and let it come to a boil for a moment. It should still be pretty warm or hot when you put it into the jars.
Next, pack your jars. At the bottom place about 3 marble-sized hunks of peeled garlic (3 whole cloves seems to be too much) and fold up one stem of dill and shove it into the jar kind of haphazardly so it bends and fits. I remember helping with this process as a child and falling in love with the smell of garlic and dill. One year I even taped a clove of garlic to the neck of my barbie doll and put some dill in her hair. I was so disappointed when her cheap plastic skin and synthetic hair never absorbed the smell! Perhaps I should pitch this idea to a perfumery...
You might have to slice a few pickles to make them fit. You can slice them all if you want; it makes do difference in their pickling. I generally start with the straightest, tallest pickle in the center of the jar and then pack around him. You can see we added strips of hot pepper to one jar to see what would happen. I'll let you know when we open it!
At this point, stick the lids (without the rings) in a hot saucepan and bring them to a simmer. You are making sure they are sterilized. Keep them nice and hot while you pack.
Once packed, use a funnel to add your hot brine to the jars. Don't add too quickly; give the brine a few minutes to trickle into the spaces between the pickles. Also, be sure to fill the jars all the way to the brim. Any pickles left sticking out of the brine will get soft...and that's ok, just don't eat that pickle or part of the pickle. It won't contaminate the rest of the jar.
CAREFULLY grab your hot lids and press them onto the tops of the jars. The heat will help create a seal. Put the clean rings on next and completely tighten them down to really batten the hatches.
Next, find the biggest pot with a lid you've got. I happen to have a 12 quart pot which was perfect...but you can find a cheap one anywhere, like here for example. Now, I don't know why but you're not supposed to place the jars directly on the bottom of the pot. A canning pot generally has a rack inside of it for all of your jars. I didn't have one of those, but I did have a stainless steel trivet that fit in the pot. I suppose this is to ensure that one part of the jar doesn't receive more heat than the rest of it.
One issue I had was that my jars were kind of sitting lopsided on the trivet. Once the water started to bubble, it could potentially move the hot jars around and perhaps crack one. I stuck the insert of my asparagus pot in there so all the jars fit snuggly. Fill the pot with water up to the neck of the jar and let it sit on medium heat JUST until it comes to a boil. The second it boils, shut it off. Let it sit for just a few minutes then using gloves, remove the jars and sit them gently on a towel to cool. Hot jars that meet cool air can crack easily if they bang on something. "Nice and Easy" is the appropriate method.
After about 3 hours the jars will seal with a "pop!" sound and the button on the lid will depress into the jar. I only had three jars to seal....but it brought back fond memories of 20-40 jars sitting on the kitchen table at home making a nice racket in the middle of the night. If your jar doesn't seal for some reason, its ok. Put that jar in the fridge, give the pickles a few days to process, and eat that jar within two months. Just keep it cold. The sealed jars will keep at room temperature or in a cool, dark cupboard for about a year with consistant quality. They'll be ready to eat within 3-4 weeks.
This brine is fairly versitile so you should feel free to introduce some variations that appeal to you! Increase the sugar and decrease the salt, or add some hot pepper flakes or peppercorns. The point is to have fun with it. The work will be worth it when one winter day you finally crack open that jar and smell the perfume of summer when you really need it most.