I love a good dill pickle! There is something tantalizing about the salty crispness that comes from a delicious pickle that just draws me in.
I think I have always been a bit of a foodie, even when I was little. I ate pickles of every kind but my favourites were always crunchy dill refrigerator pickles. I only ate the ones off the shelves when there was no other option.
I still remember the first time I tried a Bubbie’s pickle about 19 years ago while visiting a woman in our whole food co-op’s house. They were so amazing, I was in love! My mom decided to buy a case of them since we liked them so much. I was giddy the day they arrived but I didn’t get to eat one right away since we had pickles in the fridge. So my mom put them in the garage pantry until we were ready for them. It was a sad, sad day a month later when we discovered all our pickles were bad, they had fermented too long and bubbled over all over the place. Sadly my mom never bought them again but I never forgot about them.
My mom decided to buy a case of them since we liked them so much. I was giddy the day they arrived but I didn’t get to eat one right away since we had pickles in the fridge, so my mom put them in the garage pantry until we were ready for them. It was a sad, sad day a month later when we discovered all our pickles were bad, they had fermented too long and bubbled over all over the place. Sadly my mom never bought them again but I never forgot about them.
It was a sad, sad day a month later when we discovered all our pickles were bad, they had fermented too long and bubbled over all over the place. Sadly my mom never bought them again but I never forgot about them.
“On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”
Back when I first got on the nourishing food bandwagon I started making pickles, some were great, others weren’t so great. Through trial and error, I came to realize that the best pickles really are made from tough skinned pickling cucumbers. They hold up well and don’t lose their crispness like small Persian cucumbers (which I still use sometimes).
The key to good old-fashioned dill pickles is the salt brine. No vinegar pickles will ever hold a candle to old-fashioned salt brined pickles. There’s nothing wrong with adding whey (which speeds up the fermentation process), I just prefer to do without to make it pure and simple pickles Kosher style. Plus if someone has a dairy allergy these fit the bill.
Pickles are famous throughout history for their amazing taste and health benefits. It’s no wonder that the body craves them. They are teeming with beneficial bacteria. Bubbie’s pickles have 15,000,000 active good bacteria per 1-oz serving! Old-fashioned dill pickles are good to eat when you have the stomach flu or a virus, even just a bit of the brine will allow the bacteria to go to war to kill the virus.
I generally eat a pickle a day. When I am visiting family and friends I buy a jar of Bubbie’s and a bottle or two of kombucha at the store to keep my gut healthy and happy.
Some pickles for your thoughts:
- Cleopatra claimed pickles made her beautiful.
- Christopher Columbus brought pickles with him on his voyage. The sailors ate them to keep from getting scurvy.
- The Americas were named for a pickle peddler, Amerigo Vespucci.
- Many people believe that the first pickle was cured in Mesopotamia around 2400 B.C.
- Pickles were rationed during WWII in the US so that they could be given to the soldiers.
- Aristotle praised the healing effects of cured cucumbers.
- Pickles were being produced at home and commercially in Virginia as early as 1606.
- Dutch farmers in New York grew cucumbers all over the area that is now Brooklyn to sell then to dealers who cured them in barrels filled with varying flavored brine by 1659.
“Rhoda stared at the bumpy, pimply skin of the pickled, sighed, and bit through the crunchy outer layer. The pickle burst in her mouth, and the tart, garliky juice sprayed out across her tongue and combined with her own saliva in the most delightful way. Delicious!”
~Rhoda Straight and True by Roni Schotter
Note: Rhoda Straight and True is a wonderful coming of age store about a younger girl growing up New York City during the Korean War. If you have never read this book I strongly suggest reading it.
These old-fashioned dill pickles are so much easier to make since no canning in required, you can can a batch in no time! Feel free to make the pickles your own by using all the spices suggested or leaving some out. Maybe you love garlic and want to add a few more cloves.
You will notice the use of oak, grape horseradish leaves or black tea bags. They contain tannins which help the pickles retain their crispness. The use of them isn’t necessary but strongly suggested.
This recipe makes one, 1-quart canning jar. If you are a huge pickle fan you may want to double or quadruple it.
Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles
- 6-8 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 inches long) or two large pickling cucumbers quartered
- 4 cups water
- 2 TBS salt
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- 1 head of dill plant
- 2, 4 inch long sprigs of dill
- 1 oak, grape or horseradish leaf or one organic black tea bag (optional)
- 1 tsp of black peppercorns (optional)
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- Soak your cucumbers in a bath of ice water for at least 30 minutes. (If your cucumbers are fresh from the vine you may skip this step.)
- Pat the cucumbers dry. Cut off any of the vine that may remain attached to the cucumber.
- Pack them into the jar(s). If you are using larger cucumbers slice into spears (wedges).
- Add the spices, dill and leaf (tea) if you are using.
- Mix the salt and water together. (optional, heat the water on the stove and stir the salt in until dissolved. Allow to cool.) Pour the salt brine over the cucumbers.
- The cucumbers need to be submerged at least 1-inch bellow the brine. You can cover them with plastic wrap, fill a plastic zip-lock bag with small stones or marbles or a sterilized rock to keep the cucumbers submerged.
- Screw on a lid or loosely cover with a cloth depending on your jar or crock. If using a jar, burp the jar once a day.
- Leave in a dark place for up to one week. Taste after 2 to 3 days, the cooler your house the longer they take to ferment.
- Transfer to the fridge or cold storage like a root cellar (some day....sigh). They will last for at least 9 months if you have that much self-control.