Twenty-five years ago (1983), my husband, daughter and I were living on two acres of land on the Ohio/Indiana border. Fruit trees took up about one acre and a huge vegetable garden took up the other half, barely leaving enough room for a small house. My husband loved his mini-farm and spent every spare minute away from his normal job working in the garden. He got excellent results and from the first asparagus in April to the remnants of the garden in the fall, I tried to use everything he hauled into the house every day.
He enjoyed walking down the rows of the garden in the early summer, pointing to each plant and telling me what kind of vegetable it was and how many plants he had. He did this every day – a little boring, but he was so proud of his garden.
We always had a bumper crop of cucumbers and I processed them immediately to be sure we had crisp, crunchy pickles all year around.
The first year I seriously entered a county fair was in 1983 when I was brand-new to canning and preserving. Imagine my surprise when we went to the fair and saw I had won a blue ribbon and a coveted BEST OF SHOW rosette for my Dill Pickle Spears. That year, they had gotten creative in displaying canned goods and had them arranged on an old red wagon. At the very top was a big, beautiful rosette and a completely empty pickle jar. The judges told me they had liked the pickles so much that they had eaten all of them with their lunch that day.
Here’s the recipe:
DILL PICKLE SPEARS
- 4 lbs. pickling cucumbers, cut in spears
- Dill seeds
- Whole peppercorns
- 2 cups of 5% acid strength white vinegar
- 4-1/2 cups water
- 1/3 cup pickling salt
Place spears in sterilized hot quart jars. Add 1 tsp. dill seed and 3 peppercorns to each jar.
Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the cucumbers, filling to within 1/4″ of jar top. Seal and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
I’ve found an asparagus steamer is good for processing just a few jars. Let jars cool on a rack before storing. Allow pickles to cure for at least 2 weeks before using for best flavor.
Makes approximately 10 quarts
This is a good website for canning and preserving foods.
As a Best of Show Winner, I had my picture taken and there was a small article in our local newspaper with the recipe.
My husband passed away 4 years ago and since the dill spears were his favorite and not mine, I don’t make them any more. But I think of him every time I drive by a big vegetable garden and remember the first Best of Show ribbon I ever won.