No big dill, without getting yourself in a pickle

Don't get in a pickle when it comes to making pickles. Making crunchy pickles at home is no big dill with this easy method.

 Salt brining is an ancient practice of preserving foods, especially vegetables,and connecting to another time in food history is often very gratifying. These pickles only take 20 minutes to prep and then the flavours ferment over three to seven days. Then when you are craving a snack or a sandwich that's spicy, crunchy, garlicky and savoury you have it to hand. Whether you're a pickling expert or have never pickled anything in your life, these simple recipes for homemade pickles will help any pickle lover master the art of seasoning and jarring this beloved snack.
Making a batch of classic cucumber dill pickles is the perfect place to start. From there on it's easy to expand into spicier variations or more unique varieties.

Classic cucumber dill pickles
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon dill seed or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
8 pickling cucumbers 250g (about ¾ pound)

You can use dill seed or fresh dill to make these quick pickles. The flavour differs slightly but the process is nearly identical. If using dill se
ed, bring it to a boil with the rest of the brine; if using fresh dill, wait and add it just before pouring the brine over the cucumbers. In a medium saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, garlic, salt, sugar, peppercorns and dill seed (if using fresh dill, don’t add it yet) to a boil, whisking occasionally to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let cool for a few minutes. If using chopped fresh dill, add it now.Place the cucumbers  in 1 clean glass quart jar or 2 clean glass pint jars. Pour the brine over the cucumbers, leaving about ½ inch of space at the top. Let cool at room temperature for about 1 hour. Screw on the lid, turn the jar upside-down a few times to distribute the brine and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 1 week.If possible, occasionally flip the jar over to mix the brine and cucumbers around a bit.

Technique tip: I like to salt the cucumbers to draw out some moisture, but if you want to skip that step, it’s totally fine. When you’ve finished every last pickle, don’t discard the brine. You can reuse it for another batch of pickles. Look for uniformly sized Kirby or pickling cucumbers 3- to 4-inches long. Trim the blossom ends from the cucumbers (opposite of stem end) because they contain enzymes that encourage spoilage. Use filtered water that does not contain chlorine. While spoilage is not very common, it does exist, especially at warm temperature. Ideally, fermentation works best in cooler temperatures, so aim for 60 to 70 degrees.

Swap Option: Use rice vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon minced ginger instead of mustard seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, dill and cider vinegar for Korean-inspired pickles. Add dried red chillies for heat.

Using the same method as kosher dill pickles, this recipe adds just the right amount of spice for those like myself who can't resist the combination of cool and hot, juicy and crunchy.

Crunchy Dill Pickle Spears
This flavoursome, vinegar-brined pickle recipe is quick and easy. All the cucumbers need is an overnight soak in the fridge to turn into crunchy, garlicky pickle spears. The longer they sit in the fridge, the more flavoursome they become. 

Technique tip: Look for uniformly sized Kirby or pickling cucumbers. Soaking cucumbers in ice water before brining makes them especially crunchy.

Swap Option: Use 1 ½ tablespoons pickling spice in place of coriander, mustard, peppercorns and bay leaves for even easier prep. Use tarragon, sliced shallots and white
wine vinegar in place of dill, garlic, and distilled vinegar.
1 ¼ pounds pickling cucumbers
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 dill sprigs, thick stems trimmed
2 bay leaves, preferably Turkish
1 ½ tablespoons Flor de sal
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

3/4 cup filtered water
Trim both ends of the cucumbers, then cut them into spears. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and let soak for 10 minutes.Meanwhile, combine the coriander seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns in a small bowl. Add half of the spice mixture, garlic and dill to a quart-sized jar.Drain the cucumber spears and tightly pack them into the jar. Add the remaining spice mixture, garlic slices and dill. Tuck the bay leaves into the jar.In a small saucepan, combine the salt, vinegar and water, and bring to a boil. Carefully pour the brine into the jar, cover and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Spicy Dill Pickles
These pickles are the ultimate snack when you're craving something that's tangy and spicy.  You will need One 1.5 litre-sized jar with lid, washed with hot soapy water and well rinsed. 

1 kilo (2 pounds)  pickling cucumbers
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon whole yellow mustard seeds
6 dried red chillies
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
10 to 12 dill sprigs, thick stems trimmed
3 bay leaves, preferably Turkish
3 tablespoons Flor de sal

3 cups filtered water
3 cups Cider vinegar

Trim both ends of the cucumbers, then halve them lengthwise.In a small bowl, combine the coriander seeds, mustard seeds and dried chillies. Sprinkle about 1/3 each of the spice mixture, garlic, dill and bay leaves into a clean half-gallon sized jar or crock.Tightly pack half of the cucumbers into the jar. Top with another 1/3 of the spices, garlic, dill and bay leaves. Pack the remaining cucumbers into the jar and top with the remaining spice mixture, garlic, dill and bay leaves.In a measuring jug combine the salt and water and stir until dissolved. Pour into the jar, covering the ingredients, leaving about 1-inch of space at the top to make room for expansion. You may not need all of the brine. If the cucumbers aren’t tightly packed or float to the top, add a glass disc or clean stone to keep the cucumbers fully submerged. Cover loosely and set the jar into a shallow container to catch any liquid. Transfer the pickles to a cool, dark room. Check the pickles after three days to look for any bubbling activity. If your lid is screwed on tightly, lift the lid (to “burp” it) everyday to release any excess pressure. The pickles are done when the liquid is a little cloudy and the cucumbers are characteristically tangy, this may take up to one week.Store finished pickles in the fridge. 


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