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Wash and trim cucumbers. You can either trim both ends or just the blossom end, but be sure to trip the blossom end to ensure a crispy pickle.
Prepare canner and jars. Wash jars and bands in hot, soapy water and sterilize in hot water until ready to fill. Always use new lids when canning.
Combine vinegar, water and salt in a large, stainless steel pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir until salt has dissolved. Reduce heat and continue to simmer on medium-low heat until ready to use.
Remove hot, sterilized jars and bands from canner. Place 1 Tbsp. pickling spice, 1 clove of garlic, 1 head of dill weed and 1 chilli pepper (if using) in each quart jar and pack washed, trimmed cucumbers into jars as tightly as possible, leaving a generous 1/2-inch of headspace.
Pour hot vinegar/water/salt mixture into each jar to cover cucumbers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Jostle jars gently to remove trapped air bubbles and adjust headspace as necessary. Wipe rims, place lids on jars and screw bands on to fingertip tight.
Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove lid and let sit for 5 minutes in canner. Remove from canner and let cool completely before storing. Allow pickles to sit for about 6 weeks until ready to eat.
* Yields about 7 quarts
** These store well on pantry shelves for 1-2 years.