Although I am a couple of days late, this post is in honor of National Can-It-Forward Day, which occurred this past Saturday, August 1st.
I do love a good kosher dill. What makes a pickle “kosher” you ask? Well, according to wikipedia, a “kosher” dill pickle is not necessarily kosher in the sense that it has been prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law, it is a pickle made in the traditional manner of Jewish New York City pickle makers, with generous addition of garlic and dill to a natural salt brine. I also notice that other spices are typically added, such as bay leaf, mustard seeds, and hot pepper. I have done a bit of experimenting and have found a lovely flavor combination that all starts with the Dill Pickle recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and using the kosher-style variation.
The flavor of these pickles was everything I had hoped for, although the texture was a bit on the mushy side, but not so much that they could not be salvaged in some way. I strained the finished product and placed the brine in a saucepan to heat. While it was heating, I took the pickles (not the spices), and transferred them to the food processor. A few pulses later I had a lovely, chunky, relish consistency which then got added to the hot brine. A few minutes was all it took to heat the mixture through, then I filled the jars and processed as normal. This relish is a great addition to my repertoire, making it particularly enjoyable for those who prefer a relish that is not sweet.
I have since made another batch of kosher dills, this time using Ball Pickle Crisp. No longer do I want to run the risk of having mushy pickles!
KOSHER DILL PICKLES
Yield: About 7 pints
- 8 pounds 4-6 inch cucumbers, washed, 1/16 inch of blossom end removed, cut lengthwise into halves or wedges
- 3/4 cup sugar, preferably organic
- 1/2 cup pickling salt or kosher salt
- 1 quart white distilled vinegar
- 1 quart water
- 3 T. pickling spice (I prefer to make my own (recipe to follow)
- 1 head green dill per jar or 1/2 tsp. dill seed per jar
- 1 bay leaf (per jar)
- 1 clove fresh garlic (per jar)
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (per jar)
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed (per jar)
Combine sugar, salt, vinegar, and water in a large saucepot, tie pickling spice into a spice bag using a piece of cheesecloth and bakers twine. Add the bag to the brine, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pack cucumbers into hot, prepared pint jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Add 1 head dill or 1/2 tsp dill seed, 1 bay leaf, 1 clove of garlic, 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp mustard seed to each jar. Ladle hot liquid into jars, remove air bubbles, add more brine as needed to reach 1/2″ headspace. Add 1/8 tsp Pickle Crisp to each jar. Adjust 2 piece lids, process jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
I usually allow 4-6 weeks for these pickles to sit to develop the best flavor.
DIY PICKLING SPICE
- 3 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns
- 3 Tablespoons Whole Allspice
- 3 Tablespoons Coriander Seed
- 3 Tablespoons Mustard Seed
- 3 Tablespoons Juniper Berries
- 1 Tablespoon Whole Cloves
- 1 Tablespoon Dill Seed
- 1 Cinnamon Stick, broken into pieces (I found that a mortar and pestle did this job wonderfully!)
Pour all spices into a jar, seal, shake to combine. Use any time a recipe calls for a mixed pickling spice.
A couple of tips:
- For these pickles, use a pickling cucumber. They have less water that a traditional cucumber. Here in Hawaii the closest thing I have found is a Thai cucumber, which works beautifully.
- Only use kosher or pickling salt. Table salt has added iodine, which will cause your pickles to discolor and give them an “off” taste.