I have in my mind this ideal of a perfect dill pickle. Those giant crunchy ones you can only get fresh at a NY open market or county fair. They usually come out of a giant barrel of pickles and if you are doing the whole experience correctly you shove them directly in your face and slurp-bite them like a pickle slut because they are fucking PERFECT.
But you can’t buy these amazing sour phallic things in stores and you can only get a reasonable approximation in the pickle aisle or at most delis, yes, even the good Jewish ones.
So I am on a quest to make them. My garden is exploding and I have plenty of pickling cukes to work with, so this is my first shot. I did that thing I do where I read everything I can about my task on the internet and pick and choose the advice I like the best, so my recipe isn’t really to be found anywhere. That being said, I relied heavily on Moe’s Pickle Recipe and this photograph my best friend took of the instructions from a Pickle Workshop she attended.
Here’s what I did. I have no idea if these are good yet, but I need to write it all down in case they are and I want to duplicate it. These are fully fermented kosher dill pickles, not the quick kind you make with vinegar. They’ll be sitting on the counter and in the fridge fermenting for a few weeks.
1 large jar for putting pickles in. (I used 2qt Korken Jars from IKEA.)
32 ozs of distilled water
4tbsp pickling salt
a bunch of pickling cucumbers (However many you have. I had to make two jars to use up all the ones from my garden)
4tbsp McCormick Pickling Spice (The only one I could find locally.)
1 dried cayenne pepper
1 tbsp dill seed
1 tbsp multicolored whole peppercorns
3 cloves garlic
1 dill flower and a handful of dill fronds.
1 tea bag black tea (Earl Grey) with string and staple removed
Cheesecloth and rubber bands
1) Because you are going to be fermenting things, you want your jars and measuring implements to be scrupulously clean. Clean them very very well.
2) Pour water and salt into jar. Seal jar and shake shake shake until the salt is completely dissolved. (I found it helped to let the jar sit for a few minutes after shaking to see if any additional salt settled to the bottom. It did. So I shook it again. This time the water settled out clear and I knew the salt was totally dissolved.)
3) Add the pickling spices, dill seeds (not the fronds), dried cayenne, and whole peppercorns. Seal the jar again and shake vigorously.
4) Drop the garlic cloves in the bottom of the jar.
5) Wash your cukes, rub off any spiky bits left on the body, and cut off all the blossom ends. The experts swear the blossom ends will make your pickles floppy, and I don’t want anyone following my recipe to have to struggle with that kind of inadequacy.
6) Shove them in the jar vertically, so they are standing up. Standing room only! You want your pickles packed in like [this metaphor has been deleted due to the fact that I have a really macabre sense of humor and irony]. Packing your pickles tightly against each other will keep them from bobbing up to the top of the brine. You want them fully submerged. So go ahead and shove them in there. It’s okay if you squish them together a bit. Pickles are touchy feely.
7) Now put your dill flower and handful of dill fronds ON TOP of the brine. They may sink later, but for now just let them hang.
8) On top of those put your black tea bag. Push it down a bit so it gets in the brine and gets wet, but let it hang out on top of the dill fronds. Apparently the tannins from the tea will help your pickles stay crisp. Science!
9) Cover the mouth of the jar with cheescloth and a rubberband. Leave them on the counter in the sun for a day or two to kickstart fermentation. After that you can move them to the fridge. If you want to skip stuff off the top as it rises, you can, but apparently it’s not mandatory. Don’t seal the jars until your pickles are done fermenting. They’ll produce gasses and you may have a PICKLESPLOSION in your fridge.
10) Sit back and think about all the things you’re going to pickle if this works out, because that was hella easy.
Alright y’all, I’ll let you know how they turn out when they’re done!