Old-Fashioned Pickle Barrel Pickles
ready in: over 5 hrs
serves/makes: 5 lbs
recipe id: 5209
5 pounds pickling cucumbers of uniform size (about 4 inches)
4 tablespoons pickling spices (McCormick's or mix your own)
6 bunches dill, washed and chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled, more if desired
1 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup pickling salt
2 quarts water
1/2 teaspoon powdered alum*
8 grape leaves (optional)
Scrub pickles with a vegetable brush and rinse with cool water. Allow to dry thoroughly.
In a large stoneware crock or a non-reactive deep enamel kettle, sprinkle in half of pickling spices, dill and garlic over the bottom. Layer cucumbers in crock, filling within 3 inches of top. Sprinkle with remaining pickling spices, dill and garlic.
Mix vinegar, salt and alum (optional) and 2 quarts of water. Pour over cucumbers, to cover.
Weight with a plate and cans, making sure cucumbers are completely submerged. Cover loosely with cheesecloth. Check pickles each day and skim off scum as it forms. They may not begin to form until fifth day. Do not stir pickles, but make sure they remain completely submerged in brine at all times. If necessary, add additional brine. Leave for 3 to 4 weeks.
Pickles will turn an olive-drab color and texture will be soft-crisp and be uniformly translucent. Let stand an additional month to develop flavor, replacing brine as necessary.
* Alum will help with making pickles crisp, as will grape leaves.
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