Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dill Pickles

Every good charcuterie platter needs some pickles and i've been waiting for these supposed gherkin size cukes from my local veg purveyor. Unfortunately, they came much bigger then i was expecting but they were nice and firm and you could tell they were freshly picked. So the boys and I sorted them out by size and soaked them in ice water overnight. I made a batch last month and fermented them with a cold pickle rather then pouring over the pickling liquid hot. I really like the straight fermentation method as the spices really seem to penetrate them in a subtle way as well as keeping there colour and crunch.  Unfortunately, time is tight and i needed these guys sooner then later. So i opted for a hot brine to quicken the process. 
Making dills are easier then most people think. There are no special ingredients and the process is pretty straightforward. First I took the water, vinegar and salt and got that heating up. In the mean time i started layering levels of dill, garlic, pickling spice, horseradish, chilies, and cukes then i repeat the process. Once the brine was up to a boil i poured it over the cucumbers and covered the container with cheesecloth and then weighted them down. its important to keep them fully submerged while they ferment or else they will invite unwanted bacteria and ruin the whole batch. During the fermentation process a white scum should form at the top. This should be skimmed periodically and not be a cause for alarm. You will notice the brine getting cloudy which is a good thing and its basically telling you that you are on the right track. If the brine start to evaporate, just top it up with more. You do not need to heat it up after the initial shocking. 

Brined Dill Pickles
2L water
1/3 cup coarse salt
1/2 cup white vinegar 5%

For every 10 lbs of cucumbers
2-3 bunches fresh dill
3/4 cup pickling spice
20 cloves garlic
1 tbsp grated horseradish
chili flakes to taste

Use enough brine to fully cover cucumbers. The horseradish is used to keep the crunch in the cucumber, but if you prefer, grape leaves or alum can also be used. Happy pickles!

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