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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Perfect Dill Pickles Recipe

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, we're nearing the end of the summer, and that means that cucumbers are in season and dirt cheap now. If you're a gardener, you most likely have cucumbers coming out of your ears by now, and you're probably on the lookout for more things to do with those yummy cukes.

Of course, the answer to the cucumber dilemma is nearly always pickles! Fortunately, there are so many variety of cucumber pickles to make that you'll never run out of ideas or get bored from repetition. You can make hot and spicy pickles, you can make very sour vinegar pickles, you can make bread and butter pickles, sweet and sour pickles, half sour pickles, garlicky pickles, etc...

I grew up predominantly with 2 types of pickles- dill pickles, and Vlasic bread and butter pickles. They both were equally delicious, but there was just something about that dill pickle that made me feel all good inside that the Vlasic pickle couldn't do. Maybe it was the fact that those pickles were naturally fermented, who knows.

Where I live, the pickles are nothing like the pickles of my childhood. People here don't seem to know what dill pickles are, they only know what garlicky spicy pickles are. That taste of my childhood, those delicious pickles, are no where to be found. If I want them, I have to make them myself.
So I do. With a very traditional fermented brine. They're very healthy, as they impart a nice batch of probiotics into your system with every bite.
Here's how. They're so delicious that you'll want to make a huge batch; otherwise you won't have enough to put away for later, because your kids will gobble them down too quickly.

Perfect Dill Pickle Recipe


Ingredients
Pickling cucumbers, or any small, unwaxed cucumber.
Fresh garlic- lots
Whole peppercorns- lots
Fresh dill- lots
1 or 2 grape leaves
Salt water brine, made with 3.5 tablespoons of salt for every quart of water

Instructions
1. Put some whole, peeled garlic cloves, dill, and peppercorns into the bottom of a large mason jar.

2. Stuff in a layer of cucumbers and a grape leaf.

3. Add in more garlic, dill, and peppercorns.

4. Add more cucumbers.

5. Repeat until the jar is nearly filled. Add another grape leaf if desired.

6. Pour brine mixture over the pickles until the jar is nearly full.

7. Fill a sandwich bag with brine, tie it shut, and place it on the jar on top of the cucumbers. The goal of this is to ensure that the cucumbers are weighed down and don't float a bit out of the brine and spoil.

8. Cover your jar, either with a loosely closed cover, or with a cheesecloth.

9. Leave your jar on the counter for a few days, to allow the lactobacillus bacteria in the air to colonize your jar of pickles, filling it with beneficial lactic acid, and making your pickle sour. The warmer the temperature of the room, the faster this will happen, as lactobacillus bacteria thrive in very warm places. In the winter, these pickles can take as long as a week to be ready. During the summer, they are ready in as short as three or four days, depending on the size of your cukes.

10. Leave the jar alone the first two days, and then begin tasting your pickles once a day. When they reached the sourness level that you like, move the container into the refrigerator. These will last a long time in the refrigerator, providing you store them in their brine.

Enjoy!

Note: You don't need to add the grape leaves to the pickles if you don't have them, but something in the grape leaves (I think the tannins), keep the pickles more crunchy. They're perfectly fine without, but if you prefer a crunchy pickle, make sure to add that grape leaf (or two).

Do you like pickles? What is your favorite type of pickle? Dill? Vinegar? Brine pickles? Sweet and sour? Bread and butter? 
How do you generally eat your pickles? I usually just snack on mine straight from the jar, but I also enjoy them added to egg salad, tuna salad, potato salad, or to a hot dog or burgers. When I was in elementary school and they'd serve pickles with lunch, I used to love dipping my pickles into ketchup and eat them that way. Haha!
Have you made pickles? If so, how do you make them? Canned with vinegar? Refrigerator pickles? Or salt fermented, like these?

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4 comments:

  1. This is a recipe worth trying, thank you for sharing! I love the amounts of garlic.. LOTS! lol I'll let you know how they turn out.

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  2. we LOVE them! Just a few days of waiting and we have crisp, garlic infused pickles. Thank you for the recipe, we have passed your site along to others already, this must be shared!

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  3. I would love to try! Where do I get grape leaves? (I live near you - you can PM me)

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  4. We love all kinds of pickles here and only recently my husband has been making fermented pickles. We are kind of having a pickle war because he likes his spicy and will put onions and chili flakes in his while I prefer slightly sweet and dill refrigerator pickled carrots. It's definitely fun experimenting with flavors! Thanks for the new flavor to try!

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