Saturday, September 29, 2012

Best Damn Garlic Dill Pickles on Earth

Not to brag... but I get loooooots of comments when I share my pickle with other people. They typically wax on about how firm it is. They comment me on how delicious is is. Then they always ask if they can have more. Finally, they tell all their friends about how amazing the experience was.

And now that it's September, it's the perfect time, for you dear reader, to get involved in the love for pickle.

This is actually a preparation I prefer to home canning cucumbers, as it doesn't require any canning equipment, the cukes stay more crisp, and I think the flavor is better. Instead of canning, these pickles are brined at room temperature. While the brine acts to preserve cucumbers, they still must be refrigerated after a few days out and will only stay good for about 7 months in the fridge (after that, they don't go bad, but they start to get a little overly briny).

Also, I recommend you buy a case of 1-quart mason jars with lids (usually about $12). Spare salsa or pasta sauce jars you have sitting around the house will not work.

Finally, I recommend you only use cucumbers fresh from the farmers’ market or out of your own garden. The fresher the cucumbers, the crisper the pickles will be. Pickling cucumbers sold at the stores are usually several days old and will make inferior pickles.

Prep time: 1 cocktail

For each jar of pickles you’ll need:
5 heads fresh dill (not the springs you buy in the little packages in the herb section, but real, nice big heads, found at some gourmet grocers, health food stores and farmer’s markets in late summer)
Fresh pickling cucumbers, available at any farmer’s market or most health food stores
2 cloves garlic, quartered
2-4 hot peppers, halved
20 whole peppercorns 
20 whole mustard seeds 

Brine liquid (enough for 6 jars’ worth or so):
1 1/2 cup white vinegar (only use white vinegar)
1/2 cup salt
3 quarts water

In a large mixing bowl or other container, put the cucumbers in an ice bath. Keep the bowl in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours. Do not let the ice melt; replenish the ice if it is almost melted. This is an optional step but the ice bath makes the pickles nice and crisp.

To make the brine, combine vinegar, salt and water in a pot. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Once it boils, remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 5-10 minutes but you can also let it cool all the way to room temperature.

In bottom of jar, place 2 dill heads, peppers garlic, peppercorns, mustard seeds. Take cucumbers out of fridge. Put as many in each jar as you can without forcing. It’s okay if they’re a bit snug. Any really big cucumbers need to be cut in half lengthwise to allow the brine to penetrate completely. Top with remaining dill head(s). Fill the jar completely up with brining liquid.

Seal and let sit out at room temperature for three days. Gently shake the jars once or twice a day to allow flavors to mingle. You can invert the jars and let them set upside-down for a day or two.

After three days, put pickles in fridge. You can open and begin eating in another week. Stays good in fridge at least three months.

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