I become super busy during the summer. I work full time and in the summer I am often putting in several overtime hours trying to keep up with my work load. On top of this, summer is the height of canning season. I often will have more projects planned then I have time. The real solution to this problem is micro batch canning. By doing projects in small amounts. I get the satisfaction of completing with less washing and chopping work.
I had never made cucumber pickles before, but we eat them so often for lunches that it seems like a worthwhile project. The recipe is simple and there are few steps. I have found that you can combine a DIY project with a simple household tasks. When I am cooking in the kitchen, I can do the dishes or clean out the refrigerator at the same time. While making these three jars of pickles I also made a simple chicken dinner at the same time. This is not a superwoman thing, I am just organizing my time to maximize wait time. For example: While I am waiting for something to boil, I cut up veggies. I caution not to do two new projects at the same time. And try not to do two projects that are time sensitive. If you need to drop an activity because water is boiling over, you need to take care of that immediately.
I try to be innovative and create small short cuts when I am able. I could have created my own pickling spice. I have plenty of the ingredients already: Cinnamon, allspice, mustard seed, coriander, bay leaf, ginger, red pepper flakes, cloves, and black pepper. But I took the short cut and bought a pre-made McCormick bottle. For making the pickling spice bag I had plenty of cheesecloth, but no kitchen twine. I thought of tying the end of the bag in an knot but I ended up using a loose leaf tea bag instead. I bought mine at an Asian market.
I bought a large bunch of dill not knowing how much I would need. Turns out I only needed three of the flower bunches. So I made a dill bouquet for my dinner table. Our apartment smelled presently of dill for a week!
Micro Batch Dill Pickles
2 dozen cucumbers
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup pickling salt
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon. pickling spices
3-4 heads of dill
First disinfect jars by submerging in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Careful when removing that all the hot water inside the jar gets poured out. Next wash and cut the cucumbers into quarters lengthwise.
Mix the sugar, salt, vinegar, and water in a saucepan. Put the pickling spices in a cheese cloth tied with kitchen string or use a loose leaf teabag and add it to the saucepan. Heat the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Pack the cucumbers tight into jars. Be sure to leave 1/4 inch headspace. Cut any cucumbers that reach higher than the headspace. Place one head of dill in each jar. Ladle the hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers up to the 1/4 inch head space and use a spatula to remove any air bubbles. Add lids and cook in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Let cool overnight on a flat counter. Store in a dark cool location for at least one week to allow flavors to mix. Enjoy with a sandwich for lunch, or snack from the jar.