Dave's Dill Picles
|3-4 lb cucumbers, pickling
8 dill flower heads*
8 garlic cloves
2 qts water
1 pt vinegar, white, white wine, or tarragon
4 1/2 oz pickling salt
1/2 tsp red pepper, crushed
2 Tbsp mustard seed, whole
1 Tbsp black pepper corns, whole
peppers, chili, fresh (optional)
For whole pickles, select cucumbers that are 3 inches (7 cm) in length or less. If you can only get larger cucumbers, quarter them lengthwise into spears for best results. Wash and dry the cucumbers. If making whole pickles, prick each cuke a few times with a fork. Place half the dill in the bottom of a scrubbed and sterilized** gallon (4 liter) jar. Bruise the garlic and drop the cloves into the jar and add the crushed red pepper, mustard seed, black pepper, and chilies. Pack the whole cucumbers or spears into the jar and top with the remainder of the dill. (You may have some cucumbers left over when you're done here; depending upon the size of the cukes, there's a chance that not all of them will fit.) Meanwhile, bring water, vinegar, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil for a few minutes, then allow to cool to room temperature. When the brine is cool, pour it over the cucumbers making sure they are completely covered, using a weight** as necessary. Cover the jar and let it sit at room temperature 12 - 24 hours. Then put it in the back of the refrigerator to cure.
How long to cure: For fresh pickles taste after 3 - 4 days; classic deli half-sour dills, allow the pickles to cure for 3 weeks. For the taste of a fine Polish dill, allow to cure for at least 6 weeks. Because the pickles are never cooked, they're nice and crunchy! This recipe can be halved or doubled.
*A note about the dill: I make these pickles right through the winter because the supermarkets here carry "baby dill" - small dill plants which get barely eight inches (20 cm) tall before they are harvested. You can use 2 baby dill plants in place of each dill head and the recipe comes out just as fine.
**Sterilizing the jar: Dave's pickle-curing jar is a big plastic jug. He can't boil it to sterilize it, so after scrubbing it in hot, soapy water and rinsing it well, he puts in a splash of chlorine bleach, fill the jug half way up with cold water, screw on the lid, and shake it around. Then pours off the bleach water and rinse well again. KTK uses a Japanese 2 qt pickle maker that has a screw insert to hold the pickles below the liquid level. A good soap and water washing is all it needs. We have never had a batch 'go bad'.
Recipe and MM by Dave Sacerdote The only differences between this version and any previously posted one are: UK measurements added; method explanation expanded. Thereafter, this recipe has been further modified by KTK.