Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dill Pickles

 279.  Dill Pickles are the subject for the day.  This summer has been perfect for gardens with hot nights, humid air and weekly rainfall.  It has been delightful to watch the cucumbers climb and grow.  Daily I've been picking cucumbers from the vine.  So much so, I've decided to make Dill Pickles.  This is the uncooked method and relies on fermentation.

I did some research and found a great recipe from Alton Brown on Food Network.  You can find his recipe here:  Alton Brown's Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

5 1/2 oz pickling salt, approximately 1/2 cup (may use Kosher Salt)
1 gallon filtered water
3 lbs pickling cucumbers, 4 to 6 inches long
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
1 pinch red pepper flakes, (original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 large bunch dill

Combine the salt and water in a pitcher and stir until the salt has dissolved.
Rinse the cucumbers throughly and snip off the blossom end stem. Set aside.
Wash and rinse throughly a large crock pot for pickling.

Place the peppercorns, pepper flakes, garlic, dill seed and fresh dill into 1-2 gallon crock.  

Add the cucumbers to the crock on top of the aromatics.

Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers in order to completely cover.
  Pour the remaining water into a 1- gallon ziptop plastic bag and seal.  Place the bag on top of the pickles making sure that all of them are completely submerged in the brine.  (I didn't need to do this step because my crock has a shoulder that holds the pickles down and keeps them from floating up.)
Set in a cool, dry place.
Check the crock after 3 days.  Fermentation has begun if you see bubbles rising to the top of the crock. After this, check the crock daily and skim off any scum that forms.  If scum forms on the plastic bag, rinse it off and return to the top of the crock.
The fermentation is complete when the pickles taste sour and the bubbles have stopped rising; this should take approximately 6 to 7 days.  Once this happens, cover the crock loosely and place in the refrigerator for 3 days skimming daily or as needed.  Store for up to 2 months in the frig, skimming as needed.  If the pickles should become soft or begin to take on an off odor, this is a sign of spoilage and they should be discarded. 
So, here is my process...
This is Day #1  Just after I poured the brine mixture over the cucumbers.
 Day #2  The smell is intoxicatingly delicious with the smell of garlic and dill.  The spices have bloomed and risen to the top.
 Day #3  The scum is beginning to form slightly on the top of the brine.  I have also started to notice tiny bubbles beginning to float to the surface.

I ran a knife across the top so you could see the white scum.

 Plastic wrap is perfect for collecting the scum.  I placed it on the surface of the brine and the scum collected onto the plastic.

Day #4 The scum has really developed and the pickles are becoming buoyant.

Day #5  The scum continues to form and the pickles are rising and falling in the brine.

Day #6  There are continual bubbles rising to the surface
At this point I am frustrated with Blogger!  

Day #7 The Bubbles have stopped rising to the top and the brine is completely still.  So, the day arrived to taste the
pickles!!  We sliced one and each took a bite.  Wow!!  They are delicious, just very spicy. I  checked the recipe and realized the red pepper flakes brought so much heat.  The directions to use 1 Tablespoon of red pepper flakes is just too much, unless of course you like spicy pickles.
Delicious and ready for the fridge.
"I say grace.  I'm a big believer in grace.  I happen to believe in a God that made all the food and so I'm pretty grateful for that and I thank Him for that.  But I'm also thankful for the people that put the food on the table."
~Alton Brown

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