Friday, August 16, 2013

Garlic Dill Pickles--the Old-Fashioned Way!

You're right, this IS an old painting done years ago when I pickled with vinegar!  My computer with all my images is in the shop...
I've been experimenting with pickling and brining and fermenting, as mentioned in this post, and last week our good buddy R.E.--he of the gorgeous organic garden--brought us 6 gigantic cucumbers of a new variety that gets huge but not bitter or tough.

Faced with THAT much bounty, all we could do was pickle!  I made a fresh cucumber, onion, and tomato salad in apple cider vinegar and Joseph made his famous sweet relish the usual way with sugar, vinegar, spices and all, but I couldn't resist brining some garlic dills to see how they turned out...and did they ever!

I love the idea of brining or fermenting need for steamy hot kitchens that way, and I love the free probiotics!  So I checked in all my books and ended up using the basics from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods.

First, I got out my basic brine I keep on hand for those delicious krauts--


6 T. fine grain sea salt (or 9 of coarse grain)
8 C. water

Combine and stir still dissolved.  Tough, isn't it?  Some recipes call for heating the water and then letting it cool, but that seems a bit...silly.  If you know of a pressing reason for doing it that way, let me know!



This is a bit loose for an actual recipe, since it depends on how many pickles you have. 

These cucumbers were WAY too big to use'd practically need a 55 gallon drum!  So I sliced some into rounds and cut some into spears long enough to fit into a wide mouth pint jar, leaving an inch of headroom. I figured on filling 5 wide-mouth pint jars, so I just kept slicing till I had enough.

Some people suggest submerging the pickles in ice cold water for half an hour, unless they're fresh-picked.  I skipped that step...

I'd previously pickled some garlic, so I put 2 cloves into each jar and a couple of sprigs of fresh dill.  If you want, you can use 1 tsp. of dill seed instead.

SO.  Pack your pickles, garlic cloves, dill, etc. into the jars, cover with brine, leaving about an inch of headroom, and weigh  the vegetables down so they stay below the level of the brine.  You can use a smaller jar lid, a very clean round stone, or commercial fermenting weights, but do keep checking every day to make sure the vegetables are well covered.

Cover with a lid and let nature take its course--3-7 days depending on your weather (things ferment faster in warmer weather.) I "burped" mine by removing the lid once a day and to check their progress.  Then transfer to the fridge and enjoy!

* NOTE: To keep my pickles crisp, I put one clean oak leaf in the bottom of each jar!  Yep, you can use oak, grape, raspberry, or even black tea--it's the tannin that does the job.

** NOTE #2:  Sometimes home-brined veggies can develop a thin, whitish skim on top of the brine...that's kahm yeast and it doesn't hurt a thing (unless you're allergic to yeast.)  Skim it off before storing, though, because eventually it can affect the flavor.  If the brine gets slimy or ropy, toss it--but that's unlikely!

We had ours with Joseph's delicious organic-beef burgers last night...


  1. Can you "can" these pickles for long term storage? Would you use a water bath or a pressure canner? Curious pickle loving minds want to know, thanks!

    1. Really, not sure...if you canned them the traditional way you'd kill all the beneficial probiotics. They'll keep for quite a while as is...I'll have to find out if you can freeze them, anyway!

  2. Thanks for the recipe. Can I use fresh garlic instead of pickled?


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