Homemade Garlic Dill Pickles

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love pickles? If there were no such thing as sodium, I’d probably eat a jar a day.

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but store-bought dill pickles can have some really unappealing (and dangerous) ingredients hiding in that jar among those innocent little cucumbers! This should be a no-brainer safe product! How do you manage to screw up fermented cucumbers?! We’re talking:

  • Sky-high sodium content
  • “Natural flavor” (which can mean/hide many other ingredients)
  • Calcium chloride (preservative)
  • Polysorbate 80 (emulsifier)
  • Sodium benzoate (artificial preservative)
  • Alum (firming agent)
  • Yellow #5 or FD&C yellow 5 (artificial color)
  • High fructose corn syrup or corn syrup (for sweetness + addiction factor…)

Gross, am I right? Who seriously decided pickles ought to be yellow?!

Luckily, this is one of those things that’s super easy to do at home, and honestly more affordable. I bought one huge organic cucumber that was a little under $3 because it was so darn big, but that $3 cuke yielded two jars of pickles! Each jar of pickles in the store usually ranges $2.00-$5.00 a jar depending what brands you buy. And, this is way more eco-friendly, since you’re re-using your Ball jars over and over and over! (PS – Shop around for Ball jars. Buying jars singly will cost you the most. The bigger the pack, the lower the per-jar cost. Also, watch out for sales, especially at craft stores that frequently put out coupons!)

I can’t take full credit for this recipe, because when I first delved into pickle-making, I had no idea what to do. I used this recipe originally, then as time has gone on, I’ve tweaked it to make it my own, what it is now. Trial and error, friends.

The only major difference is that A Couple Cooks calls for 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds, whereas I use a pickling spice blend. I buy the blend from a small shop in Smithville, Ohio, so it’s a pretty unique one. However, you can probably replicate it yourself by using equal portions of the following ingredients in my blend:  mustard, allspice, coriander, cassia, ginger, black peppercorn, cloves, and bay leaves. Here’s a photo of the blend, if that helps.

20160218_224559
The pickling spice blend I buy pre-made

Without further ado, here’s how you can get to pickling your very own…

Garlic Dill Pickles!

Yield: One large cucumber + one batch of brine = 2 jars of pickles. Approximately 8-10 pickles per jar, based on slicing method. 

 

Ingredients
2 one-quart Ball mason jars with lids
1 large cucumber, preferably organic
1 clove garlic (one big clove or two small cloves)
10-14 sprigs of fresh dill
1 tablespoon pickling spice (Note: original recipe calls for just coriander seeds)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt (I use sea salt)
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/3 cup water, cold or room temp, filtered

 

Instructions
1. Wash the mason jars and lids in hot, soapy water, rinse well, and let air dry.
2.  Rinse the dill sprigs under cold water thoroughly. Tuck at least 5-7 sprigs into each jar, putting them off to one side.
3.  Dice the garlic clove(s) into little pieces, at least into about 10-14 pieces or so. Divide evenly between the two jars and drop into the very bottom.
4. Rinse the cucumber thoroughly under cold water. Cut cucumber in half crosswise, then in half lengthwise, then into spears. (Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, after cutting in half crosswise, you can try to cut them into “stacker” pickles by making many thin parallel lengthwise cuts, but be very careful and make sure your knife has been freshly sharpened so it’s less likely to slip.)
5. In a mixing bowl, create your brine mixture: combine 1 tablespoon pickling mix, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 cup white vinegar, and 1 1/3 cup water. Mix thoroughly until sugar and salt dissolve completely.
6.  Tightly pack the sliced cucumbers into the jars as best you can around the dill. It works best if you fit them to their original shape. They may be a little tall, so they might need to bend a bit. It’s okay. Once the lid is on, you’ll be fine.
7. Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers. Go to the top of the cucumbers if you can. Do a test putting the lid on to see how full it gets once the cucumbers are pressed all the way down. If you run out of brine, you can always add a pinch more water and vinegar in even quantities to top it off. Tap the jar on the counter to release any air bubbles before capping.
8. Place the lid firmly on the jar and screw on the ring until it is tight. Give it a good couple tips upside down to make sure the brine is flowing freely through the garlic and dill.
9. Leave the jar in the fridge for 36 hours before tasting. Hang in there, it’s worth it!

 

*The pickles last up to one to two months max refrigerated (but get stronger as they sit). Personally, I think they are best when eaten within one month.
**Always remember to use a clean utensil to fish out the pickles – you don’t want to add in any bacteria!

That’s it! Simple as pie-ckles, right? Sorry, that was super lame-o.

Hope you enjoy! Please let me know if you have any questions!

Wishing you healthier, happier days…filled with pickled goodness!

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