A good pickle is something that can always add sizzle to your Cuban sandwich or hotdog sandwich. It can also give you a crunchy finger food, packed with vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and other beneficial minerals and vitamins. Instead of opting for commercially-available dill pickles, you can make your very own homemade dill pickles. It is easy.
The obvious star of the recipe is cucumber. There are different varieties of this vegetable that it is easy to overlook the best type for pickling. In the supermarket, you can see sections where they sell pickling cucumbers. These are the best types for making a dill pickle recipe. One of the most common type of pickling cucumbers is Kirby. Another option is Persian cucumbers. These retain their crunch after getting soaked in the briny pickling solution.
While the main ingredient in this recipe is the cucumber, you can always experiment with other vegetables. For example, carrots, green beans, okra, and garlic scapes make excellent alternatives to cucumbers. Some may also add bell peppers, papaya, unripe mangoes, and others. Regardless of what ingredient you use in your recipe, make sure that it feels firm and ripe. Do not use wrinkled or limp veggies.
In learning how to make dill pickles, you should have access to the freshest dill herbs you can find. This is an herb that belongs to the same family as celery and parsley. The feathery greens have a sweet, grassy flavor that tastes like a cross between licorice and anise. The dill heads turn to flower. It is best to use them in your dill pickle recipe before they “bolt”. Otherwise, you will get a more bitter and less aromatic pickle.
You can also use the dill seeds if you want. They can provide your pickles with a taste of mild caraway. Either way, you can expect the dill to enhance the flavor of the cucumber as it ages.
As a flavoring for your canned or refrigerator dill pickles, it is often wise to consider other seasonings. Don’t be afraid to try celery seed, mustard seed, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves. As long as you have dill in the recipe, then you should have nothing to worry about.
The pickling solution almost always involves water, vinegar, and salt. When it comes to the choice of vinegar, most will recommend the white variety. This will require a smaller proportion of vinegar compared to water. Some advocate the use of apple cider vinegar since it has a “tamer” acidity than white vinegar. Everything depends on your personal preferences. You can also use sugar cane vinegar or rice vinegar if you like.
Recipe for Refrigerator Dill Pickles
This recipe is perfect for individuals who cannot wait at least 3 weeks to get the right flavor of their pickles. It is also one of the easiest ways to pickle cucumbers without the need for additional jar preparations. This is ideal for those who are after the crunch of the cucumbers, while still savoring the fruits of the pickling process.
- 2 heads of fresh dill
- 4 cups of fresh cucumber spears
- 3.5 cups of water
- 1.25 cups of white vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic, whole
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- Put a medium-sized saucepan over the stove and pour the water. Add the vinegar, sea salt, and sugar. Mix well to help dissolve the sugar and salt. Turn on the stove and put it on high heat. Let it boil for a few minutes before turning off the stove. Let the solution cool down.
- Get a large plastic container or a sterilized glass jar. Place the fresh dill inside the container or jar and arrange the cucumber spears. Squeeze in the garlic cloves. Pour the now-cooled water-vinegar solution into the cucumber-dill mixture. Cover the container or the glass jar with a tight lid. Put in the refrigerator and store for about 7 days.
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Recipe for Classic Processed Dill Pickles
This is the classic way of pickling cucumbers or any other vegetable for that matter. It produces softer textured pickles and can last several months in storage, unopened. Like refrigerator dill pickles, it is also very easy to make.
- 6 large heads of fresh dill
- 5 lbs of fresh pickling cucumbers
- 8 cups of water
- ½ cup of Kosher salt
- 3 cups of white vinegar
- Prepare 6 pieces of 1-quart canning glass jars. Wash and sterilize them in your dishwasher on the highest possible setting. If you are not going to can the dill pickles immediately, you can place the jars in the oven at the lowest possible temperature. This will help prevent breaking the glass jars during the water bath.
- Prepare the lids and bands that you will use for sealing the dill pickles. Boil water in a pot and let it simmer. Immerse the lids and bands before using these to seal the jars.
- Combine the ingredients for the brine – water, salt, and vinegar – in a medium-sized pot or saucepan. Let it boil for a few minutes before removing from the heat.
- Get your canning glass jars. Put a head of fresh dill in each of the canning jars. Arrange the pickling cucumbers into each jar.
- Pour the water-vinegar solution into each of the jars. Leave about half an inch or so of empty space at the top. Make sure the brine covers the pickling cucumbers, however.
- Seal each jar using the prepared lids and bands. Do not overtighten the bands.
- Boil water in a large pot. Once boiling, immerse the canning jars for 15 minutes.
- Allow the dill pickle recipe to cool before storing in a dry and cool place. Leave it for a minimum of 3 weeks before serving. Once a jar is already opened, you should always store it in the refrigerator. Unopened dill pickles can stay edible for up to 12 months.
Processed or not, making your own homemade dill pickles is easy. All you need are the right cucumbers, the freshest dill, and a good pickling solution to get everything started.