Canning and Preserving Herbs: Dill Pickles

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<em>Makes 6 pints<br />
<br />
</em>This old-time recipe is easy, and the pickles are always crisp. The peppercorns, cherry leaves, and peppers are optional; the grape leaves, garlic, and dill are not. When they’re available, I prefer to use heads of fresh dill rather than seeds because the heads are so much prettier.</p>
<p>• 6 fresh grape leaves<br />
• 4 pounds thin, straight, 4-inch-long pickling cucumbers<br />
• 1 quart apple cider vinegar<br />
• 1 quart water<br />
• 1/2 cup pickling salt<br />
• 12 whole black peppercorns<br />
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled<br />
• 12 fresh cherry leaves<br />
• 6 small fresh or dried hot peppers, and/or 12 half-inch-wide strips red bell pepper<br />
• 6 heads fresh dill, or 3 tablespoons dill seeds</p>
<p>1. At least 8 hours or the night before you make the pickles, soak the grape leaves in cold water to cover.</p>
<p>2. Wash the cucumbers, removing any stems or blossoms. If desired, cut into spears. Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a nonreactive pan. Over high heat, bring just to a boil, stirring until the salt is dissolved.</p>
<p>3. Prepare the jars, lids, and boiling-water bath. In each hot, dry jar, place two peppercorns, one clove garlic, two cherry leaves, one hot pepper and/or two bell pepper strips, and one head fresh dill or 1/2 tablespoon dill seeds. Pack the jars with the cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Fill with the boiling vinegar mixture, just covering the cucumbers. Top with a drained grape leaf. Wipe the rims with a clean towel, and attach the lids securely.</p>
<p>4. Place the jars in the boiling-water bath, and when the water returns to a boil, process for 15 minutes. Remove the jars, cool, label, and store. Wait at least a month before sampling to allow the flavors to blend. (Adapted from Recipes from an American Herb Garden.)</p>
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<em>Maggie Oster writes extensively about herbs, food, gardening, cooking, landscape design, flowers, and crafts. Her books include</em> Recipes from an American Herb Garden <em>(New York: Macmillan, 1993) and</em> Herbal Vinegar <em>(Pownal, Vermont: Storey Communications, 1994). When she’s not on the road, she’s in her garden or kitchen in Indiana or Kentucky.</em>
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<strong>Canning and Preserving Herbs: 13 Recipes</strong>

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