How to make dill pickles is a post that has been rolling around in my head for a very long time. I have been unable to separate cooking and events in my life for as long as I remember. There was a summer, actually the summer of 2008, when I lost my fiancee in a motor cycle accident, and I began to can, if it stopped moving, I canned it. Some people drink their sorrows, that summer, I tried to put my broken heart into jars. During that summer I lived in Eau Claire, Michigan, I had the opportunity to enjoy all sorts of delightful fresh fruits and vegetables I canned from May through September.
Michael and I had bought a house out in the country. We had planted a monster garden, we had seven acres, and it was really hard to judge exactly how big our garden was. While growing up both of our parents had gardens, planting one yourself is different. I think we planted about 25 tomato plants, and a wide variety of other vegetables. In addition to what we planted there were all sorts of vegetable stands where we lived. Many times coming home from work, I would stop and pick up something fresh, and prepared it that night for dinner. Having lived in Houston, we didn't really have seasons, but in Michigan we had seasons, and a whole host of fresh fruits and vegetables that I had not seen since growing up.
I canned spaghetti sauce, spaghetti sauce with meat, dill pickles, dill pickle relish, strawberry jam, blueberry preserves. One day I when out picked peaches then spent the rest of the weekend canning them. There was some irony there, I really don't enjoy jams and jellies very much. My favorite thing I canned was dill pickles. These pickles were honestly some of the best dill pickles I had ever made. These were wonderfully spicy. I added crab boil to these pickles to give them extra flavor.
These dill pickles are ones that you actually ferment. They take about three weeks to ferment, then it is time to can the pickles and get them ready for long term storage. If you have never had the opportunity to try fermenting your own pickles, I highly recommend doing so. You will have a flavor that is so dense, that you will want to ferment your own pickles again and again.
Spicy Dill Pickles
Yield: 6 quarts.
Spicy Dill Pickles
Spicy Dill Pickles are a unique way to make homemade dill pickles.
- 2 to 3 bunches of fresh dill
- 1/4 cup crab boil
- 2 bay leaves crushed
- 1 tablespoons whole black pepper corns
- 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoons dill seeds
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- 10 pounds picking cucumbers (4 inches long with ends trimmed)
- 1 1/2 cups pickling canning salt
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 16 cups water
- 6 garlic cloves
Combine all of the dry spice ingredients in a small bowl. In a large clean crock or glass or stainless container, place half of the picking spice and one bunch of dill. Add cucumbers, leaving at least 4 inches of space between the cucumbers and the rim of the container.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine pickling salt, vinegar and water. Bring to a boil and add salt stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
When the brine has cooled to room temperature pour picking liquid over cucumbers and add remaining picking spice, garlic, and remaining dill over the top. Place a large clean inverted plate on top of the cucumbers and weigh
down with a couple of quart jars filled with water and capped. Cover with a clean towel. Let stand in a cool place the temperature should be about 70 to 75 degrees, let stand for about three weeks. It will take about three weeks until the cucumbers are well flavored and the fermentation is completed. You will need to check the brine daily and remove any skum that may form. During fermentation bubbles will form.
After about three weeks it will be time to put up the pickles. Prepare your canner, jars, and lids. Drain pickles reserving the brine. Strain brine through a sieve and pour brine into a large stainless steel pot and bring the brine to a boil. When a rolling boil has been achieved reduce heat, an let simmer for 5 minutes.
Pack pickles into the hot jars leaving 1/2 inch for head space. Pour hot brine into jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary, by adding hot picking liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger tip tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.
Recipe adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
These pickles go perfectly in my Olivier Salade - Russian Style Potato Salad
I had hoped that with each jar that I canned, it would somehow ease the pain of loosing someone that I loved. Still whenever I think of canning I still think of Michael, and how I spent that summer canning pretty much everything that moved. Some people drown their sorrows in alcohol, but that year, I tried to can my way out of grief. I still have a few jars left of preserve in my cabinet. Now that I have moved back to Texas, I continue to can, and prepare my own spaghetti sauce, pickles, and other goodies.Print Recipe