Friday, February 24, 2012

cured, pickled and spiced

Yesterdays weather was a belter, winter must be over. Last opportunity to use up the season's jarred and preserved goodies before the fresh varieties start popping up all over the place again. All that said, it'll be freezing and wet again by the weekend, but in readiness for the cold hard moths later in the year, the time to start stockpiling has as good as begun! I'm starting with my favourite - proper pickles...roasted nuts next week.

Dill pickles

Before buying pickles from the grocery store, consider making your own extra crisp kosher dill pickles. Making your own dill pickles is inexpensive and will save you money over the years. Homemade kosher dill pickles also make great gifts for friends and family members. Add your favorite spices and seasonings to the pickles to make them suit your tastes. Patience is required when making kosher dill pickles. Canning the pickles will not take a lot of time, but the pickling process will take two to three weeks.

4 to 8 lb pickling cucumbers (4 inches)
2 cups white vinegar
6 cups water
1tblsp kosher salt
1 tblsp pickling spices
Large garlic cloves
Jalapeno chillies, chopped
Bay leaves
Grape leaves
4 heads fresh dill weed

Choose firm and ripe pickling cucumbers. The cucumbers used for pickling need to have plenty of warts and they should be bright green in colour

Wash the pickling cucumbers thoroughly. Remove any excess dirt and debris from the cucumbers, and lay them on a paper towel to dry.

Decide to leave your pickles whole or cut them into halves. Depending on how large your canning jars are, it may be necessary to cut the cucumbers lengthwise. Do this step before preparing the pickling solution so that the cucumbers are ready to be soaked in the brine solution.

Add the vinegar, water, salt and pickling spices to a large pot. Bring the brine solution to a rapid boil.

Place the remaining ingredients in the canning jars. Add one large, peeled garlic clove, one chopped jalapeno chilli, one bay leaf, one head of fresh dill weed and one grape leaf. The grape leaves are what make the dill pickles extra crisp.

Pack the pickling cucumbers into the jars. Do not force the cucumbers into the jar, but ensure that they fit tightly into each jar.

Pour the brine into the sterilised pickling jars. Fill the jars with the brine, leaving only 1/2 inch of space at the top.

Place the canning jar lids on the jars. Secure them with the canning jar rings.

Shake the jars to remove any leftover spices. Sit the kosher dill pickles out of sunlight in a cool and dry environment. Let the pickles ferment for at least seven days.

Taste the dill pickles after seven days have passed. Continue to pickle them for another 7 days until they reach your desired tastes

Refrigerate the pickles after opening