The first time I made dill pickles was for 250 guests at a friend’s wedding in Germany. It was a few days before the wedding when the groom’s mother, Ana, casually announced that we would be making pickles today. I was set to work sterilizing large buckets to house the heaps of cukes. The call went out to friends and relatives for their gardens' bounty, and pretty soon fresh garden cucumbers and big pungent bunches of dill started arriving at her home. Three days later at the wedding, those cucumbers had transformed into delicious dill pickles. I was in awe!
Pickles are made by immersing fruits and vegetables in vinegar and/or a salt brine, to both preserve and add flavor. Pickled products are enjoyed throughout the world with countless varieties: for some they are burger toppings and relish; in my family culture they are a funeral specialty; for others, like our friends in Germany, a wedding treat; China is famed for its Sichuan preserved vegetables; in Japan, pickled daikon is the norm; and Kimichi is a loved pickled dish in Korea. Even Shakespeare couldn't help but reference pickles in his play The Tempest, "How cam'st thou in this pickle?"
My true pickle love will always be the classic dill pickle, a no-nonsense vinegar cucumber spear flavored with garlic, fresh dill and black peppercorns. Our Garlic Dill Pickle is a quick refrigerator version that does not need to be canned and can be made start to finish in about 15 minutes.
Yield: Two 3/4 Litre canning jars (we used Weck)
- 5-7 small ‘pickling’ cucumbers, washed and cut into wedges or slices
- 1 3/4 cups cider vinegar
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 4 teaspoons dill seeds
- 2 teaspoons canning salt (can substitute table salt in the same amount but the liquid will be cloudier)
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
- 8 whole peppercorns
- 8 sprigs fresh dill
- Distribute the sliced cucumbers, garlic, dill and peppercorns into the sterilized canning jars. Pack as tightly as you can.
- Combine vinegar, water, dill seeds, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling remove from heat.
- Pour the brine over the cucumbers in the canning jars to fill completely. If you need to top off the jars use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water.
- Seal with a lid and move to the refrigerator. Let rest overnight for best flavor. Use within 2 weeks.
- Your garlic may turn colors as a result as the pickles sit in the fridge. This is ok and merely a chemical reaction caused by the acidity of the solution.
- Feel free to substitute another kind of vinegar for cider vinegar
- If you prefer a slightly less sharp pickle add one tablespoon of sugar
- Leftover pickle juice is a great flavor bump to potato salad