Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Two Days of Pickles: Part 2

Pickle Number Two:  Quick Dill Pickles with Garlic and Chiles

I always make two kinds of pickles-  a sweet one and a dill.  I also enjoy making fermented pickles although I have not made them this year and am not sure if I will (we still have a few left from last summer).  I particularly like making the sweet pickles and dill pickles because while the sweet one takes a week to complete, the dill is quick.  They kind of balance each other out.  The cucumbers for the dills are packed raw into jars and processed the same day.  They don't have the depth of flavor that fermented pickles have, but they are delicious nonetheless, and they take about an hour to make start to finish. 

In the past I have made them with only dill seeds, but this year we decided to change them up a bit and add chiles and garlic.  We love these pickles with just about anything.  We also like to use them to make sweet and sour pickles which is an idea given to me by an older lady that I know who has done her fair share of canning over the years.  She told me to drain the liquid from a jar of dill pickles and add 1/3 cup sugar to the jar.  The sugar draws liquid from the pickle chips to make a syrup and makes the pickles crispier in the process.  Once our sweet pickles are gone and we want more, this is what we do.  They are absolutely delicious this way! 

I do add Ball Pickle Crisp Granules to the jars to help the pickles remain a little firmer.  I don't know how much it actually helps as I have never made them without the granules (sounds like a good experiment, doesn't it?).  You will definitely want to choose cucumbers that are smaller in diameter and as crisp as possible at the time of purchase (or pick your own- even better!).

One more note on processing pickles...boiling jars of cucumber pickles in a water bath always decreases their crispness to some degree.  You can, of course, boil the jars as indicated in the recipe, but you can also use the low temperature pasteurization method in which the jars are held in water of about 180 degrees for 30 minutes.  This lower temperature also helps pickles remain a little firmer.  Either way works.  Can you tell I am a little obsessed with getting the firmest pickle possible? 

Quick Dill Pickles with Garlic and Chiles-  makes approximately 6 pints

This recipe is based on one from a Better Homes and Gardens Canning magazine.  The only change I made was to use dried hot chiles rather than fresh since that is what I had on hand.  If you want to make the a dill pickle without the garlic and chiles, simply omit them and change the vinegar to white vinegar.

3 pounds small pickling cucumbers
4 cups water
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup kosher salt
6 Tbsp dill seeds
12 cloves garlic
6 to 12 dried hot chiles (use only 1 per jar for mild heat and 2 per jar for more)

Scrub the cucumbers.  Remove the blossom end of each cucumber.  Slice each cucumber into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices (I went a little less than 1/2 inch).  Set the cucumbers aside. 

Prepare your canner and sterilize your jars and lids.  In a large nonreactive pot, heat the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. 

Pack the cucumber slices into hot sterilized jars along with 2 cloves of garlic per jar and 1 or 2 chiles per jar.  Add 1 tablespoon dill seeds to each jar.  Fill each jar with the vinegar mixture leaving 1/2 headspace.  Using a chopstick or other tool, remove the air bubbles from the jars.  Adjust the headspace in each jar, wipe the rims, and top each jar with a sterilized lid and ring. 

Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (or use the low temperature method by holding jars in 180 degree water for 30 minutes).  Remove jars from the canner to a towel to cool for 24 hours before checking seals, labeling, and storing.


  1. I've used our Concord grape leaves for years and they work pretty well. Make sure you have firm cukes to start with. I don't know how 'different' it would be from using the granules, as I've never used them.

  2. I have heard and read about using grape leaves to maintain crispness, but have never had access to them myself (until now). I think I will try this trick the next time I make pickles.

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