Here we go - the start of "Pickle Week" : Homemade Dill Pickles!
I'm fairly new to pickling, so I had to spend a bit of time researching things like techniques, brine ingredient ratios, etc. Usually I'm really "freestyle" in the kitchen - even with baking - but my background in microbiology did instil a healthy fear of botulism in me. (That's a nice way to say that I'm probably OVERLY paranoid about it, right?)
So, with all of that straightened out, I got right on pickling all kinds of different things - recipes are coming.
I can't see ever buying pickles again, of any kind. I'm not even kidding. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved pickles, but now that we've had homemade... I just don't see any way of going back. These taste so much better - cleaner? - than store bought pickles! Probably far healthier, too!
Even beyond the basics, pickling them at home means that you have full control over the way they are presented (slices? spears?), and seasoning. It's been fun to develop recipes, honing everything to our personal tastes. My Hoppy IPA Pickles went over so crazy well, I actually had to put on a second, MEGA batch of them this weekend!
So, here's my recipe for basic homemade dill pickles. These are great as-is, but feel free to alter the "per jar" ingredients used. (Don't alter the brine recipe! This one is safe, and changing water/salt/vinegar proportions can screw with that!)
A few notes about pickling:
1. The amount of jars / brine you're going to need will vary widely depend on the shape and size of your cucumbers, the size of jar you use, how you prepare your cucumbers, and how well you pack them into the jar. Have a lot of extra vinegar on hand, and either make more brine than you think you'll need, or be prepared to make more as you go.
2. Pickling salt is usually available with the canning supplies in any grocery store. You'll want to use this, rather than regular table salt - the anti-caking additives in table salt can make your pickle brine go murky and ugly.
3. Use pickling cucumbers specifically, as they're best suited for this. Pickle them within a day or two of them being picked, for crunchiest results - your best bet is to buy them at a farmers market. Use pickles that are crisp, not soft or mushy.
4. While you can use previously-used jars for canning (when WELL washed and sterilized!), you need new lids for each new batch. Safety first!
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