Friday, July 19, 2013

Homemade Sour Dill Pickles

My local farmer's market (which I'll admit I spend much less time at now that I get most of my produce from a CSA) has a pickle vendor that's been there for years. They sell all manner of pickled vegetables as well as olives, all made from scratch in their local pickle factory (factory? I can't help but picture a Willie Wonka style building with rivers of brine flowing through it. Weird) Anyway, I had never bought anything from this vendor until a month or so ago when my wife and I were chatting with a friend we bumped into that was in line to buy pickles and we ended up trying a couple samples. 

Wow! Instantly I was hooked. What an amazing difference between these fresh, homemade pickles and the name brand pickles I've been eating forever (you know the ones, with the goofy Groucho Marx impersonating stork). I bought some to take home, but they were not cheap and I knew that if I was to enjoy fresh pickles on a regular basis then I better start making my own. The pickled scallions I made a while back worked out very well, so I was confident that I could start churning out fantastic pickles in no time! Of course, I then promptly forgot all about it until last week when my wife emailed me a link to an article in the New York Times that described a method to make basic sour pickles in only a few days with a minimum of work and ingredients. The stars completed their alignment when my week 11 share included a trio of plump pickling cucumbers. To the pickle factory!  Oompa loompa doopity doo.....

Adapted from the New York Times.

Share contents used
Pickling cucumbers

1 pound freshly picked pickling cucumbers
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
3 sprigs fresh dill
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Bring two cups of water to a boil and add the salt, stirring until completely dissolved.  Remove from the heat and add two cups of ice then stir until the ice melts and the brine has cooled to at least room temperature. While the brine cools, clean the cucumbers well then slice a little off each end. Cut cucumbers into spears. You can also leave them whole or slice them into chips as well.  Whatever you prefer. Place the cucumbers into one or two clean glass jars along with the garlic and dill sprigs. Pour the cooled brine into the jar(s), covering the cucumbers completely. Discard any remaining brine. Loosely cap jars and place in a bowl on your counter to catch any leaks during fermentation. Fermentation should start within 24 hours and the brine will turn cloudy and start making bubbles. During this time, the garlic may turn a greenish color but don't worry as that is just the way it reacts to the brine and it will not harm you or the pickles. Let sit on the counter for 2 days before tasting. If you want them to be more sour, leave them for another 1-2 days. When you are happy with the taste, place in the refrigerator to stop the fermentation. They should keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.

July 21 - Update on the results. The picture below is how the jar looked after about 20 hours, and after two days the pickles were sour enough for my taste. I discovered that this recipe does not result in pickles that are very crunchy, in fact they were a bit too soft for me even though the flavor was very nice; slightly sour with a hint of dill and garlic. Seems that soft pickles is what you get using this fermentation method and to get crisp pickles, a more involved process is required involving hot pickling brine and actual canning equipment. Maybe a bit too involved for me, but we'll see... There's a nice article on that talks about how to make crisp pickles with several links to other resources as well.


Remya Elizabeth Anish said...

Very informative...Thanks for sharing :)

Benjamin Aitken said...

Glad you liked it! Check back in a couple days, I'll update with the results.

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