"The chiles give these pickles a kick," says Debbie Harpe of Placentia, California. For the best pickles, buy very fresh cucumbers 3 to 4 inches long--larger ones are more likely to have formed hollows, and they don't pack as neatly into jars. Dill seed heads are sold on the stalk; snip off and discard the stem. For best flavor, let the pickles stand at least 1 week before serving.
Sunset AUGUST 2005
1. Follow steps 1 through 4 of Canning Instructions, using four wide-mouth quart-size jars.
2. Enclose pickling spice in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie tightly with string. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring spice bag, 3 1/2 cups water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring often. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Discard spice bag.
3. Meanwhile, pick off and discard any blossoms and stems from cucumbers. Quarter cucumbers lengthwise.
4. Place 2 dill seed heads, 2 cloves garlic, and 3 chiles in each jar. Equally pack cucumber quarters vertically into jars without forcing, pushing 1/2 inch below rim; cut off any tips of spears that stick above this level.
5. Follow steps 5 through 11 of Canning Instructions; then pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace (be sure liquid covers cucumbers). Bring water in canner to 180°-185° and process for 30 minutes.
Sunset's Canning Tips:
Add butter to jams and jellies to prevent foam from forming during cooking. If you omit the butter, skim off the foam before ladling jam or jelly into jars. The recipe will yield about 1/4 cup less.
Measure all the sugar into a bowl before beginning the recipe. Many canning recipes call for a large volume of sugar to be added when a mixture is already boiling; measuring ahead simplifies this step and prevents mistakes.
Use a ruler to measure volume. Some recipes call for a mixture to be reduced by a certain amount. To ascertain this easily, insert a clean, wood ruler into the pan before cooking and measure how far up the mixture comes. Then cook as directed until it has reduced by the percentage specified. For example, if uncooked mixture measures 4 inches in pan and recipe says to reduce by half, cook it down to 2 inches.
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