Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dill Pickles

This time of year I can't help but to try to preserve summer's bounty. Last year was the first year I started canning and the very first thing I tried was refrigerator pickles. They require no processing, and they are by far better then anything you'd get in the store. There is a lot to be said for refrigerator pickles too. Because they skip the processing, they retain their crispness. They will safely last up to two months in your fridge too. Trust me though, use this recipe and they won't last two months.

It's always best to start off with fresh ingredients, and if you don't garden head off to your local farm to get what you need.  I went to a farm close by here, and they were so helpful.  They reduced the price of my cukes because I bought so many, and they even ran out to their herb garden and clipped me fresh dill right on the spot.  I took it home, and treated them like I would a bunch of flowers. I clipped the bottoms off and stuck them in cold water.  Two days later, they're still looking very fresh.

When picking cukes, you want to make sure they're bright green like these fellas.  Warts are good too.  If the cuke is smooth with yellow on it, then it's been allowed to get too ripe and the seeds will be huge.  You don't want seedy cukes.  Try to find some that are straight too, they're easier to slide into your jars.

Now, I had two resources guiding me through this whole process.  The first was Pickyourown.org.  This website is a treasure trove for the earthy mom (or dad).  Not only does it have how to's, but you can also find local farms where you can...pick your own food. :) The second was a book I highly recommend called, Preserving Summer's Bounty.

When making pickles you want to avoid getting mushy pickles.  That happens for two reasons: an over ripe cuke, and over processing.  I live in a high altitude, so my processing time is increased.  So when I started cutting my cukes, I only cut them in half, instead of fourths.

I shoved them in with my fresh dill, some spices and some garlic, and sealed them up to get ready for processing.  I did have to cut the tops off them so they'd fit in the jar.  Nothing was wasted though, because those cut ones got shoved in a jar too for sliced sandwich pickles.

After processing, I set them out to cool.  I didn't process all of them because I wanted to have my fresh crispies.  The pickles should all be ready to eat in about two weeks, once the flavor has had a chance to settle in.  Take a note at the difference in color of the pre-processed pickles, and the post-processed.   Your refrigerator pickles will stay that crisp green, while the processed ones have yellowed a bit.

Here is my recipe that I use.  You are welcome to share it, but please link back if you do.

4 1/2 cups vinegar
4 1/2 cups of water
14 garlic cloves

Bring to a fast boil.

After cukes are cut and put in their jars, put two cloves of garlic in each jar along with:

1 whole clove
3 peppercorns or 1/4 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. dill seed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Then seal up the jars and processes them according to your elevation.  My elevation is about 5000 feet here in Boulder, Colorado so I had to do a wopping 15 minutes.  I've read if you do straight vinegar and not water, then you can take 5 minutes off your processing time.  If you don't want to deal with processing or if it just scares you (respectfully so!) then stick them in the fridge and wait two weeks.  You'll have some seriously yummy pickles.

Enjoy!


2 comments:

  1. I've been wanting to make pickles for my boys (personally, I don't like pickles). Are there a special kind of cucmber that I need to look for - or just any kind?

    How many cucumbers did you use for that recipe, out of curiosity?

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  2. Well, a jar takes about 3 or 4 pickles depending on the size of them. I'd start with a small amount of maybe 10-20 pickles. I used pickling cucumbers. They are smaller then your average cuke so they fit in the jar. :)

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