Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kosher Dill Pickles

At last, my pickles are done! Frequent readers of this blog will remember my foibles of a few weeks ago, when I attempted to do too much canning in one day. Pickles aren't difficult to make, but it is a slow process. You have to start thinking about pickles a month before you want to eat them. Pickles are a wonderful value for the money, and well worth the effort of making them - this whole batch cost me less than $10, not counting the jars. That's $1.66 a quart.

Here's how I made them - based off a recipe in the Ball Blue Book

10 pounds pickling cucumbers, 4 to 6 inches long
3/4 cup whole mixed pickling spice
2 to 3 bunches fresh dill - big stalks with flowers on them, and roots, not the "frou frou" dill sprigs in a plastic container you find at the fancy grocery store produce section.
2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups canning salt
2 gallons water - make sure to use filtered or distilled water. Hard water will make your pickles cloudy
6 cloves garlic

Wash cukes and remove blossoms. If you leave the blossoms on, you might end up with mushy pickles. Cut the roots off the dill stalks. Place half the pickling spice and a layer of dill that you've rolled into a ring like a wreath in a 5-gallon crock or glass container. Fill the crock with cucumbers to within no more than 4 inches of the top. Mix the vinegar, salt and water and pour it over the top. Place a layer of dill and the remaining pickling spice and garlic over the top of the cucumbers.

Cover the cucumbers with a gallon plastic ziplock bag filled with water - double bag it. Fill a quart size canning jar with water and put a lid on it, and put that on top of the bag to keep the cucumbers submerged and completely covered with brine. Keep the pickles at room temperature, ideally at 75 degrees F or cooler. The basement is a good place. In about 3 to 5 days scum will tart to form on the brine. Remove it daily with a metal spoon. Do not stir pickles. Always keep them completely submerged in brine.

I am showing you what the scum looks like in this picture, so you don't panic. It looks gray and moldy. Also, you can see I've got some reddish brown looking stuff growing on the outside of the crock - don't worry about that, either.

After 3 weeks of fermentation, the dills will be ready to be put up in jars. You can tell when they are done fermenting when they are evenly and consistently colored all the way through when you bite into one. There should be no ring or white spots, they should be a khaki green color. You can also tap the side of the crock with your hand and see if it bubbles. When it stops bubbling, it's done.

At this point, the brine will be cloudy due to the development of yeast during the fermentation period. Strain the brine, and bring the a boil. Meanwhile, rinse off the pickles and pack them in clean hot quart jars. To each jar, add a clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, a bay leaf and a piece of hot pepper. Do not pack too tightly. Cover the pickles with hot brine, leaving 1/4 inch headspace; seal. Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes. Yields 6 quarts.


TennZen said...

Ooh, I am jealous! I've always wanted to try to do brined pickles, but I've never been brave enough to actually do it - always chickened out and stuck to fresh pack pickles. I'd love to know what you used as a brining crock/container. Enjoy those beauties!

Maggie said...

I've only done single quarts of brined pickles. I love your baggies of water for weights!! I've been reading Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz and I really want a crock.