Homemade Dill Pickles
Full disclosure here: I hate pickles. HATE them. Absolute least favourite food in the world. If the shocked look I receive when mentioning this is any indication, the vast majority of humanity suspects I may be some form of mutant, but I stand firm in my aversion. Inexplicably, however, people love these crunchy, nauseating little things, and as such, I’m bound by culinary duty to share this epic dill pickle recipe with the world. You’re welcome… I guess?
Pickle rant now delivered, this recipe does hold a special place in my heart. The ingredients listed below reflect the original recipe first created by my great-great-grandmother Ada Babcock (born 1875), including her ultra-secret weapon for perfect pickles: grape leaves. Our family’s surviving matriarch, Bonnie Jean, is adamant about those grape leaves – leave ’em out, and the whole batch of pickles will be in ruin. We happen to have a grape arbor at our home in the States, but they can also be found in well-stocked supermarkets or Mediterranean specialty markets.
Note: The ingredients below (with the exception of the cucumbers and those for the brine, which should be adequate to fill approximately 7 tightly packed quart jars of pickles) are listed as per quart-sized jar. In other words, to make a full batch, you’ll need 7 fresh grape leaves, 3 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns, 7 teaspoons mustard seed, etc.
HOMEMADE DILL PICKLES
Makes: 7 quarts
65-70 fresh pickling cucumbers (approximately 3- to 5-inches in length)
1 large fresh grape leaf
1/2 tsp pepper corns
1 tsp mustard seed
2 fresh garlic cloves, halved
1 piece fresh dill umbel
1/4 tsp powdered alum
2 quarts water
1 quart vinegar
2/3 cup rock salt
1. Wash interior of canning jars (seven in total) with hot water (if re-using, sanitize). Set aside to dry.
2. Wash cucumbers; set aside. Line interior of each canning jar with one grape leaf, dark green side facing outward. Place 8 or 9 cucumbers in each jar (should be tightly fit), followed by peppercorns, mustard seed, garlic cloves, dill and alum. Each jar should include the full amount of each ingredient listed above.
3. In a large saucepan or pot, bring brine ingredients to a boil over high heat. Pour boiling brine into each jar until liquid reaches 1 inch from rim. Quickly top and tighten lids. (Note: Lids may make a popping noise at any time over the following several hours as the jars seal internally.) Allow jars to seal and cool for 3 to 4 hours. After cooling, transfer jars to a cool, dark area to pickle for at least 6 weeks.