Friday, June 6, 2014
In the Kitchen: Dill Pickles
While I've made other ferments, this is the first time I've attempted dill pickles. Usually I get too many cucumbers and just make relish by dicing and salting them with a little onion. I am growing a kind of pickling cucumber called Parade. Supposedly they all get ripe at once, which solves the common problem of me gathering cucumbers to pickle over several days, and having the older ones go bad before I get enough to make a satisfactory batch. So far they have not ripened all at once, but enough at a time to make a good batch.
I am very proud of these pickles! I grew the cucumbers and the dill, and even the hot pepper that went into them. I didn't grow the mustard seeds or the garlic clove...maybe next year. I hope they turn out tasty and crunchy. I put some oak leaves in, because the tannins are supposed to help keep the crunch.
So far the brine has gotten cloudy and the mustard seeds are floating, so fermentation is under way.
The recipe (roughly) is:
Whole pickling cucumbers
garlic clove, peeled
1 dry cayenne pepper
grape or oak leaves
several sprigs of fresh dill
clean, unchlorinated water
2 tablespoons fine sea salt per quart of water
Add mustard seeds, dill, leaves, garlic, pepper and salt to a jar (quart or half gallon). Pack in cucumbers as well as possible, pour water to the top, leaving a little air space, but completely covering the cucumbers. Cap the jar (not too tightly) and leave at room temperature for.....? I can't quite say yet. I'm going to check up on them in about 3-4 days, though.
Note: When I checked on them this morning, the top pickle had gotten too much air contact, so I will be adding a slice of raw onion to the top of future batches. Not only does it add a nice flavor, but it keeps the pickles in the brine while they are fermenting. The onion sits partly in the air during fermentation and gets kind of yucky, so I compost it once the pickles are done. It really helps weigh everything down in the brine.