About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Saturday, February 05, 2011
Brine Cured Dill Pickles

There's something extremely satisfying about food preserving, the laying down of produce. It speaks of earlier times when such kitchen husbandry was a necessity to survive long cold winters, but also coincidentally, a means to use up a glut of a particular fruit or vegetable, especially those given to ripening all at once, which would otherwise rot and go to waste.

These days, with our reliance on the convenience of the supermarket and obligatory use of refrigerators, home preserving has taken a something of a back seat, something rarely taken on by home cooks, beyond the odd dabble at jam making.

Even so, we have never lost our taste for preserves and whole industries have developed to satisfy that yearning, canning anything from the aforementioned jams to the rather dubious Scandinavian delight of surströmming or fermented fish.

But home preserving is surprisingly easy and can usually be done with the equipment in most kitchens, though you do need jars, which can either be bought specially, or simply saved and scrupulously cleaned when their contents are used up. The only real trick to it is following exactly any instructions to the letter, shortcuts have no place here.

One of the easiest preserves to do are brine cured dill pickles, they don't even require vinegar, just some salt, water and a few flavourings. The best cucumbers to use are the ones you've grown yourself as the skin contains the Lactobacillus bacteria responsible for the fermentation, which protects the cucumbers from spoiling.

If you buy them, look out for cucumbers with a rough spiky skin, these are grown especially for pickling or brining, with a thinner skin than salad cucumbers which allows better penetration of the cure and they also retain their crispness much better. If you do buy them, make sure to bottle them the same day, fresher gives the best result.

Besides salt, the other thing you must have are dill fronds or crown dill which gives such a distinctive flavour. After that, there are a few different things you might like to add - garlic is popular as are leaves from cherry, blackcurrant or grapevine; some like some horseradish for extra piquancy.

One thing you will notice, is that after a few days, the brine will start to bubble and turn cloudy. This is a good thing as it means the fermentation is proceeding normally.

Brine Cured Dill Pickles

small pickling cucumbers

for each jar

1/2 clove peeled garlic
few stems dill
2 cherry, blackcurrant or grapevine leaves (optional)

for the brine (as needed)

1000ml water
1 rounded tablespoon cooking salt

boil until the salt is dissolved

Sterilize the jars and lids in a dishwasher or simply boil them for a few minutes. Straight away, loosely stuff the cucumbers in, leaving a 1cm gap at the top. In the gaps, place the 1/2 garlic clove, dill stems and any other flavourings you choose. Pour in the boiling brine and immediately screw the lids on tight.

You can use after 2 weeks and they will keep for up to 1 year.
  posted at 4:26 pm

At 4:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Neil-I LOVE dill pickles and so does my middle daughter. We did exactly this when we had a glut a few seasons back. I just cant get enough of em!

At 6:17 pm, Blogger neil said...

Don't they taste just so great? One of the easiest preserves to do as well, just as well considering how bountiful cucumbers can be; zucchinis have got some stiff competition from them.

At 2:49 pm, Blogger Ran said...

I tried something similar last year and they bubbled and I freaked out and threw them out. My never fail version of dill pickles has some vinegar in it and I find these dont bubble. I guess I must have had some contamination? Has this ever happened to you?

At 6:04 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi ran, bubbles are a sign the fermentation is proceeding normally and are quite natural, think beer. Mould floating on top would be something that would cause you to throw them out. Vinegar is a great safeguard but also sharpens the flavour.

At 8:15 am, Blogger George Biron said...

Hi Neil
Timely reminder to get some into bottle.
I dont screw the lids on too tght till the fermentation is over, have had some go bang over the years.

At 4:10 pm, Blogger neil said...

It's that time of the year to get all sorts of things bottled, you must be flat out with it. Interesting about the loose lids, we tighten and are yet to loose any.

At 11:41 am, Blogger thanh7580 said...

I don't think we pickle things enough in Australia. Look how the Europeans love their pickled vegetables. I absolutely adore pickled vegetables, especially cucumbers. I can't believe how easy it is, I must give it a try.

At 10:41 pm, Anonymous Rachel said...

Nice Post! I like pickles a lot


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