I know I’ve talked here about foods I crave that aren’t quite right, and pickles top that list!
British gherkins just don’t do it for me- they are too sweet and multi-flavoured. When I say I crave pickles, I really mean it- I am known in my family for saving the jar and drinking the pickle juice! There is nothing better than a nice, crisp and juicy kosher dill pickle. Actually, one of my favourite childhood “trips” was to go to the supermarket with my dad and pick the pickle from the barrel (but I did not pick a peck of pickled peppers, just to set the record straight).
Last week we received some beautiful garden cucumbers and I knew it was time to give pickle making a try.
After reading around, I learned that some pickles are made with vinegar while others are pickled by letting the juice ferment a bit. Apparently, Polish pickles are fermented. This explains why they looked similar to what I expected from a pickle (the standard jar of British pickled cucumers has many extra spices floating around), but it did not taste the same.
Some of the dill pickle recipes I came across had “pickling seasonings” in the ingredients. Unnamed, mixed spices always make me nervous when purchasing them outside of the area in which the writer purchased them- you never know how different each culture or nation’s take on the mixture will be from the intended flavour. Checking into the ingredients of pickling spices, I decided to skip them for my first attempt because some of the flavours evoke sweetness (like cloves) for me, something I wanted to avoid.
In the end, I used a modified version of this recipe and it was FANTASTIC! Thanks to Sharon Howard for submitting it! I read somewhere that soaking the sliced cucumbers (I cut mine into “pickle spears”- just long quarters) in ice water for at least two hours before jarring them helps keep them crunchy, so I treated them to a chilly bath.
The recipe here was a canning recipe and since I don’t have any canning jars, I skipped that part and didn’t wait the expected 8 weeks. I tried them after two days and thought 4 would do the trick and yes, 4 is the magic number when it comes to these pickles (sorry, School House Rocks!).
I also doubled the dill and the garlic. The original recipe website enables you to alter it based on servings, but I found that the ratio of flavouring was not enough since I knew it was not going to sit and seep in the flavour for at least 8 weeks, as recommended.
This is my augmented recipe, using 4 medium cucumbers, it was exactly 2 Lbs and the jar is 1.5 litres. I had a bit of vinegar juice left over, but that’s fine.
6 C water
2 C vinegar (I used apple cider)
1/3 C salt (make sure it has not been iodized or had anything added)
Start on medium heat, stirring these ingredients together and bring to a rapid boil. This is your brine.
Sterilise the jar well. Then add FOUR half cloves of garlic (recipe calls for 2) – I crushed them before cutting in half- and one head of dill to the bottom of the jar. Pack in the pickles, add the brine and put 2 more cloves (crushed and chopped in half) at the top and another large cluster of dill.
Put the lid on and pop them in your fridge. Resist the urge to eat them for four days!
When these have been gobbled up, make a batch of “refrigerator pickles”. Reuse this brine by thinly slicing cucumbers and placing them in jar. Let them sit for 4-5 days and they will have soaked up enough flavour to be ‘lightly flavoured’ pickles!