These truly are the world’s best dill pickles! Made from all natural ingredients, NO VINEGAR! Just zesty, crispy pickles, with a fresh flavor you can’t get from a jar at the store!
This is an old fashioned recipe. That means there are no absolutes. You can use it with whatever you have on hand. Sure, if you have a balance of ingredients, you’ll probably like it better one way than another. But don’t feel intimidated. There’s nothing scary about this! Feel free to experiment.
Old Fashioned Brined Dill Pickles
- Cucumbers – any amount will do (ok, so you are going to want at least 10 or so…)
- Garlic – about 1 clove for every 10 baby cukes
- Fresh Dill – about 1 sprig for every 10 baby cukes
- Grape leaves – enough to put a layer, 2-3 leavers thick, across the bottom of your container. You can use wild grape leaves, they work great! If you don’t have grape leaves, raspberry leaves, or horseradish leaves are supposed to work also, but horseradish will probably impart a spicy flavor.
- Salt – about 3 TBSP for every quart of brine (or about 2 tsp per cup of brine) (table salt will work – iodized salt will cloud the water, but still work. Non-iodized salt is best, some people insist pickling salt is even better)
Ok… you’ll need a fermenting container large enough to hold the pickles, with plenty of headroom (you can fill the container about 3/4 full of pickles).
Scrub the pickles to get the spines off, and the mud, and anything else unpleasant that might be lurking there. You don’t need to sterilize them! Don’t put chemicals or veggie wash on them. Just use plain water and wash them well.
Wash the grape leaves and shake the water off them.
Split the garlic cloves into quarters.
You can leave the dill sprigs whole, or break them up some, however you like them.
Mix up a quart of brine to start (more if you know you’ll need it). Just stir the salt into water until it is fully dissolved. IMPORTANT – use water without chlorine! Yes, this is important, chlorine kills microbes, and you NEED microbes to make your pickles.
Ok… Put the leaves in the bottom of the container. The leaves are there to help the pickles stay crisp. Commercial pickles use concentrated chemicals for this, but grape leaves are the natural alternative.
Start putting in the cukes, and distribute the garlic and dill among the cukes as you fill the container.
Once the veggies are in, pour in enough brine to cover the pickles by an inch or so if it is a large container, half an inch or more if it is a small one. Your cukes WILL float! So you’ll need something to hold them down. A dunker, or a double ziploc baggie filled with water (or filled with brine). Just make sure whatever you use can keep all the cukes under the brine, with nothing sticking up.
Cover the top of the container – you can use a plate, a cloth cover, or a fermenting cap. These pickles are the easiest kind of thing to ferment, and most of the time they aren’t terribly picky.
Let them sit for 2-3 days. Don’t mess with them. They’ll get foam on the top. That is ok. If it is summer, you’ll want to skim off the foam and put them in the fridge after three to four days, and let them continue to ferment there. In the fall, or in a root cellar, you can leave them a lot longer.
You can start sampling after about two or three days. The first batch is always the hardest one to wait on! But go ahead and sample. Just make sure you use a clean fork to spear one out, and make sure all of the cukes get back under the brine when you close up.
It is always a miracle to me that I can leave cucumbers out for two days, and come back and suddenly I have these awesome pickles – lightly brined at two days, but definitely dill pickles! The flavor gets stronger each day.
Ok… so here is the experimentation part:
- You can use this same basic formula for pretty much ANYTHING.
- If you want it crispy, use grape leaves, no matter what you are pickling. If you are pickling beets or carrots or something else that you don’t want really hard, leave them out.
- If you want garlicky flavor, put the garlic in.
- If you want it spicy, put in horseradish leaves or hot peppers, or whatever else you like for zing.
- If you like pickled onions, throw those in – baby onions, onion rings, shallots, whatever.
- You can make dilly green beans or carrots, or pickle broccoli and cauliflower, asparagus, just anything!
- You can leave out the dill, and put in other herbs, or no herbs at all.
If you can make dill pickles, you can make virtually any pickled food.
Note about vinegar… “But I LIKE the vinegar taste”, said my son, when he asked me how to make pickled jalapenos. I told him how to make them using an old fashioned brine. “Where’s the vinegar?” he first asked. I explained that it did not need it, that this was the traditional way of making pickles. He protested that he liked the flavor of the vinegar – he was sure I had not understood what it was he really wanted to make. I then explained that it DOES taste like vinegar – that the fermentation process creates the vinegar flavor. He was very hard to persuade.
Many people are, because they are not unfamiliar with the process of natural pickling. Putting vinegar in is not traditional. Pickles were made for millennia before vinegar was added to make the process of canning pickles faster, and to eliminate the tedium of brining.
You get a BETTER pickle this way. The flavor is brighter, fresher, and more complex. It does not taste like cucumbers and dill soaked in vinegar. It is absolutely recognizable as the pickles you love, but more so.
THIS is how pickles are supposed to taste!
The ORIGINAL one-way valve fermenting airlock! Imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery, and we have noticed that our product has been copied by other sellers of fermenting products. Remember, if you see someone else selling a one-way valve airlock for fermenting, THEY copied US, not the other way around! Fermenta Lock is still the only original invention, handmade in the US. If it isn't orange, it isn't the original!
We invented Fermenta Lock, Fermenta Free, and the valve used for Fermenta Fido and other Fermenta Airlock products. We invented Fermenta Dunk Extender. Patents are prohibitively expensive, and designed by the government not to protect the rights of individuals, but to provide another source of revenue and control for the government and lawyers. We are good at what we do. We have endless ideas and endless creativity, and competition does not scare us. Impatient thieves do not scare us - they are too busy taking shortcuts to make a success of it anyway, and they won't want to take the effort to actually MAKE a product and fill orders.
So if you want to copy our idea, go right ahead. If you want to market and sell a competing product, you are welcome to do so, as long as you do not patent our idea - we had it first, and our posts on FaceBook announcing the invention and launch of it will prove that. This idea is officially in the public domain, placed there by us. We will NOT release supply sources, or part names unless you want to buy them - we'll be happy to sell you an instruction kit. If you buy our product, or look at the images and figure it out for yourself, good on you. Compete with us if you like, just don't screw us, and we'll get along just fine. Big companies who might want to screw us may have more money, and more lawyers than we do, but we have more to gain by suing the pants off a big company, and believe me, we will be well motivated to do so if anyone patents our idea and claims it as their own - this is a free idea. Everybody now owns it.
Published June 23, 2012
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