Cook's Note: I'm not recommending a quantity or weight of pickling cucumbers that you should buy, because that will completely depend on their size. The ones I bought were pretty big, and my jars tall and narrow, so I was only able to fit 3 1/2 cucumbers in each jar. If the cucumbers you buy are smaller, or your jars are wider, then you should be able to squeeze more in. If possible, you should leave the cucumbers whole; I sliced them in half out of necessity to fit more in the jars. Just compare the cucumbers available to you to your jars, and make a judgement call as to how many you'll need. Although this is supposed to yield 7-8 quarts, I ended up with 12; perhaps the shape of my jars yielded more.
Clean the jars in the dishwasher beforehand, so that they are sterilized, hot and dry. When the dishwasher starts the drying cycle, you can start getting everything else ready. (See my previous post with tips on canning.)
In a large stockpot, combine the distilled water, vinegar and canning salt. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, set out all your sterilized jars. In each jar, place 1 clove of garlic, 1 hot pepper, a few sprigs of dill, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon mustard seed, and 1/4 teaspoon pickle crisp granules.
Pack the cucumbers into the jars as tightly as you can. Pour the boiling brine into each jar, filling 1/4 inch from the top. Place the lids on each and screw on the rings.
If you'll be eating the pickles right away (for the best flavor, wait a few weeks for the flavor to develop), set in a large pot and cover the jars with very hot tap water; let sit until the water is completely cold. The lids may or may not seal, since they were not processed, so it is best to store these in the refrigerator. (This is Lu's preferred method, since processing the pickles in a water bath tends to make them less crisp.)
For processing in a water bath, set the jars in a large pot or canner; cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the water with a jar lifter and place on the counter to cool overnight. Check the seals the next day, and if they're indented, you can store the pickles in a cool, dry place until ready to eat. If the lids didn't indent, refrigerate the pickles to eat within a few months.
The cucumbers are best after the flavor develops; for the best flavor, wait a few weeks to eat them.
Yields 8-12 quarts
Recipe from Lu M., via Curly Girl Kitchen