Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sour Garlic Pickles

These are not only the best pickles I've made yet, but they rival my memories of "Lower East Side Kosher Garlic Dill Pickles".

Get yourself a good pickling crock. I use a 7.5l Harsch. You may also want to invest in a little kitchen scale, since weight measures are more accurate than by volume. Here, then is the recipe.
  • ~7 lbs. of fresh pickling cucumbers (or kirbies)
  • 10 large cloves of garlic
  • 5 grape leaves
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill.
  • 5 l of water (boiled, then cooled)
  • 175 g salt (35 g/liter) This is the summer recipe. You can reduce the salt to say 30 g/l during cooler months). Be sure to use "pickling salt" which is salt pure and simple, containing no iodine and no anti-caking agent. In the past I had used "coarse kosher salt" but this contains anti-caking. Table salt also normally contains iodine. Apparently both have a deleterious effect on fermentation.
  • 15 g mustard seed
  • 10 g black peppercorns
  • 10 g coriander seeds
  • 5 g red pepper seeds
  • 4 bay leaves
Wash the pickles in cold water, setting aside any that are bruised. Snip or cut the flower end off the pickles. Pack them tightly in the crock (but don't crush), standing on end. Add the spices (don't worry about mixing, they'll be under water for a long time). Pour cooled salt water over pickles, to a depth about 1-2" (3-5 cm) above the pickles. Be sure it's well cooled-you don't want to cook your pickles! Set a weight on top of the pickles to keep them under water. Leave the crock at room temperature (in your kitchen if possible) for about a week, then move to a cooler location for an additional 3-4 weeks. If you use an airlock type crock (like the Harsch) you shouldn't need to skim the scum that might otherwise grow. If you use an open crock, you may need to take such precautions.

After about a month they're ready! You can harvest a jar's worth to keep in the fridge as needed, and leave the rest to continue fermenting. Note, these are fermented brine pickles-no vinegar. The grape leaves apparently help preserve the firmness of the pickle skin. So also does snipping the flower end off. Another suggestion I've heard, also to preserve the skin's firmness, though haven't tried it, is to not add the garlic until a week or two before the first harvesting. I've heard that 3 months is needed for a full sour, but mine were great at about 5 weeks (perhaps they'll need longer in cooler months).


The Adjunct Professor said...

Home made pickles are wonderful. My mom used to make them.

I laughed at the part where you tell us to wash the pickles. My mom always washed store bought pickles before eating since she was never sure if they were washed ahead of time (a little anal but we still love our parents). When she made her own, she would wash them before pickling the cucumbers so she knew she could eat the pickle without first washing it.

ArticulateDad said...

I guess I could have said: First, enter your kitchen... turn on the light... check the faucet for water. :) Thanks for commenting.

"Tae's Mom" said...

Sounds like a lot of measuring. At Costco they sell "NEW YORK DELI" pickles. I don't know if they compare to yours but they were yummy when I was pregnant. :)

ArticulateDad said...

This year I followed the same recipe (around the same time of year), but I used fresh cabbage leaves from the garden, instead of grape leaves. At ~four weeks, the first harvest was great (if still a little immature, say 3/4 sours), and VERY crisp, crisper than I'm used to.

I used a rather large "bunch" of fresh dill from the farmer's market, probably twice as much as I needed. But I'm not complaining.

ArticulateDad said...

This recipe is still great! This is the first year I've made pickles from my own fresh harvest cucumbers from the garden. We've had so many cucumbers that I followed temptation to try the first batch after only three weeks. They're great, sour, spicy, crisp.

I jarred up five quarts of pickles, and started a third batch (fresh garlic from the garden too). We've only got two Harsch 7.5l crocks at the moment, though I'm tempted to get more. Even after starting the third batch, we've got about 10 pounds of fresh cucumbers. I harvested 20 today!