Dilly Pickle Project: Delightful!

Something I have never made – dill pickles canned in jars.  They seemed too complicated and I didn’t know if what I created would taste as good as store pickles.  My mom made them when I was a kid.  I remember that if a jar got forgotten in the basement, say in the very back of a dark shelf, for like a year… the big pickles would get hollow in the middle and slimy and off flavored.  Kinda off putting.  I love to make jam, jelly, and marmalade but somehow I haven’t ever attempted the authentic dill pickle. I have made raw refrigerator pickles but that recipe does not require canning or much of a recipe; a brine you keep adding veggies to and munching them down. I re-ran that recipe recently but knew it was only  a warm up for this particular project. And it had to be gluten free for me; this is naturally gluten free. Yay!

Well, a good friend had some pickling cukes to spare from her garden and I decided to screw up my courage and make a run at replicating dill pickles. No one I knew had a recipe they could recommend.  So, I searched on the food network website for a fairly simple dill pickle, chose a basic recipe; made a few small changes and went for it. After waiting about 4-5 days while the flavor mysteriously ripened I opened a chilled jar and found the pickle slices to be fantastic in flavor and crunch.  Eureka!  I ate enough slices to almost give myself a sour stomach; note to self: stop after 6-7 slices.

I feel like a tricky topic has been made easy; the pickle has been conquered. I am ready for my next burger with the perfect pickle slices to heighten the flavor experience. You too can do the pickle successfully. I promise!

First get all the supplies: beg, borrow or buy some pint canning jars, an equal number of the rings that tighten the lids and brand new canning lids (they must be brand new to seal properly)  You will also need a deep pot to put the jars in. I have a jar lifter someone gave me and it is very helpful in removing hot jars of pickles or jam out of boiling water. A canning funnel is also pretty much needed; so you can easily pour in jam, top the pickles with brine or otherwise fill the jars with your food product. I use a pair of tongs for picking up boiling hot lids or rings and for getting a hot jar out of the water to fill with my latest canning experiment.

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The cukes: I got 4 big fat pickling cucumbers from a garden; you can buy ones in the store; look for ones labeled for pickling; they are kinda bumpy and rather cute.  No European burpless for this project; only old fashioned cukes, no waxed ones either!

The process: the empty clean jars have to be filled with hot water and heated to a boil, I let them boil for ten minutes generally. The lids and rings need to be heated briefly. Your big pot has to be deep enough to cover the jars with an inch of boiling water.  I process pickles for ten minutes.  Sounds difficult; nope; just let them boil in that pot of water for ten minutes, lift out and let them cool on a kitchen towel until the lids let out a ping that tells you the jar lid is safely vacuum sealed.  Done.  Yeap. That’s all there is to it!

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Spicy Dill Pickles
Yield: 7-8 pickles (can double)

Ingredients

7-8 small cukes or 4 big pickling cucumbers or Kirbies
Pickling Liquid:
1.5 cups water
1 cups white vinegar
2 tbsp. kosher or coarse salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
skimpy ½  teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 teaspoon turmeric
1 whole cloves
1 small bay leaf
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1/2 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 carrot, peeled and sliced
½ tsp red pepper flakes or 1 jalapeno pepper sliced (I did the flakes)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3-4 dill flowers (mine were very dried out but still flavorful)

1 small sprig thyme

Directions

Bring a large stockpot water to a boil. Add cucumbers, immediately remove from heat if they are the small ones or leave in there a minute if big fat cukes, and drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water and reserve.

Combine the pickling liquid ingredients as well as salt and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Place whole cucumbers in a large container with remaining vegetables and herbs. Pour hot pickling liquid over cucumber mixture and let cool. Stir it up and tap down all the solids until liquid rises to top. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 1 day.

I then sliced the cucumbers into ¼ inch slices and heated them before canning in pint jars. I  believe it will work equally well if you cut them into spears. If they are not too big you could leave them whole; mine were huge so I had to cut them up. I covered the pickle slices and other veggies with the pickling liquid up to ¼ inch from the rim.  Do stick a knife or chop stick in to stir and break up any bubbles before sealing. Put on the lid, the rim and hand tighten, I often use a thin kitchen towel as the jar is hot and it is difficult to tighten the lid down otherwise. Process ten minutes in a hot water bath.  Or, transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate 3 days before serving.

They are said to store indefinitely but I think they will taste best in the first 3-4 months while they are crisp.  I ate some of mine about 5 days after canning and they were perfect!

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/dill-pickles-recipe.print.html?oc=linkback

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