One jar at a time, garden dills (dill pickles)
- Freshly picked cucumbers (about 4 inches long)
- Freshly picked dill (a couple of stems per jar)
- Freshly picked grape leaves (1 to 4 leaves per jar)
- Garlic (about a half to whole _head_ per jar)
- Black peppercorns (5 to 10 per jar)
- Sea salt (1 tablespoon per cup of water for brine--see instructions below)
- Filtered or bottled water (see instructions below)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
- Special Equipment:
- - Quart jar(s) with prepared lids or crock (see instructions below)
- - Hammer, nail and bock of wood
- Prepare the "Crock"
- The pickles need to be submerged under the brine during the duration of the fermentation period. However, you don't want an airtight lid. I have a condiment dish that fits almost perfectly inside the lid of an old peanut butter jar (shown) will still just enough room to breath around the sides. An alternative method is to punch a hole in the middle of a metal jar lid by placing the lid upside down on a block of wood and taping a nail through the center. Pry nail from hole and turn the lid upside down and carefully pound the sharp/rough edges from the nail hole flat--try not to warp the lid or damage the threads if it is a single piece lid. Wash lid.
- An alternative is to use Alton Brown's method and sizing the plastic bag to the size of the jar (for example, use sandwich baggy for quart jar). See link below the to Food Network website with recipe and video.
- Pick and gently wash cucumbers, making sure to remove all of the stem and blossom end (blossoms contain an enzyme that may cloud the pickling liquid so remove by cutting or scraping). Wash remaining ingredients and peel garlic.
- Estimate number of quart jars needed for the amount of cucumbers on hand. Multiply number of jars by 2. This is the amount (in cups) of brine that you will be making. For example, for 1 quart jar of pickles you will need 2 cups brine. For 2 quart jars of pickles, you will need 4 cups of brine.
- For brine: add 1 tablespoon of sea salt to each cup of filtered water (filtered or bottled water is best). Stir until all of the salt is dissolved.
- Arrange grapes leaves in the bottom of the jar. Top with dill, garlic, peppercorns and red pepper flake. Pack jar with cucumbers. Pour brine over the top. Top with the non-airtight lid and place the jar on a dish. If the brine doesn't reach the lid, pour just enough through the hole in the top to keep all of the cucumbers under liquid.
- The pickles should be stored at room temperature (70 degrees) for a week. If any scum appears, skim it from the top and clean and replace the lid. Top off with additional brine if needed using 1 tablespoon of salt per cup of water. After a week, test pickles. You may continue to store at room temp for up to 4 weeks, after that, place in fridge.
With just enough small cucumbers for a single jar of dills, I decided this recipe was easy enough to do a jar at a time--I'll continue to make them as the cucumbers ripen. And, who needs a 50 lb crock of pickles anyway? This recipe is for a brined dill. No, it's not a mistake, there is no vinegar in this recipe. The cucumbers take approximately a week to become dills. Adapted and modified from two sources: 1) Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, Sandor Ellix Katz, and 2) Alton Brown, Dill Pickles, Good Eats episode "Dill-icious"