Monday, August 1, 2016

Garlic Dill Pickles

 This weekend I thought I would try my hand at another new skill: making pickles!

I picked up a 15 pound bag of freshly picked pickling cucumbers and we sorted them according to size. It's easier to process and pack jars with items that are relatively uniform in size.

I did a lot of research into this as 15 pounds is quite a bit to work with and I won't know for a few weeks if the end result is worth sharing with friends and family.

 Fresh dill is a must when making pickles. I would have preferred the seed heads to be a little more mature as the true dill flavour really is in the seeds, but I've got enough here to satisfy.

I also was hoping for fresh garlic - you know - the juicy, spicy rich cloves that haven't yet been cured. Those were available a few weeks ago and these lovely red Russian bulbs are almost exactly what I was looking for.

Again, prepare all your equipment: jars, lids, hot water bath, tools and work space.

* 4 cups water
* 2 3/4 cups vinegar (I used just plain white vinegar)
* 1/3 cup kosher salt
(if you want to add pickling spice to the brine, do so)
- boil brine to dissolve salt & keep at a hot simmer
- depending on how many jars you will be processing, you may have to keep adding to the brine to fill the jars - I made this brine 3 times for about 12 pounds of pickling cukes.

Prep your jars for filling. This is the most time consuming part of the whole process. Do your research into what you want to put into the jars. I didn't want to overpower the pickles with any specific spice (the pickling spice I picked up has a sweet flavor in it that was OK for flavoring the brine, but not what I wanted in the jars.

I sliced up some white onion & because those beautiful garlic cloves were so large, I sliced them up too. I think I put about 3/4 of a clove of garlic in each jar & at least a good tablespoon of onion. Then I put in some of the fresh dill leaves & seed heads.

The small cukes I left whole & just sliced the tips off each end. I read that there are enzymes in the blossom end that causes the pickles to possibly become less crunchy. Stack them vertically in the jars & cram as many in as you can without mashing them.

If you want, put another sprig of dill on top & then pour in the hot brine. Screw on the lid & gently put into the hot water bath. Process at a boil for about 10 minutes. Again, do your research and ask questions of others as I read that some people process theirs for 20 or even 30 minutes. I want crunchy pickles and my jars are small, so I reduced the time.

Cool on the counter & then let mellow in the pantry for a few weeks.

I'm more anxious about the pickles than I am about the apricots as a mushy pickle just is not a happy pickle and I've got almost 2 dozen jars!!

I'm marking my calendar & am looking forward to Pickle Tasting Day! Will let you know how it all turns out...

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