In the Perfect Pickle

I love pickles. I grew up eating both my mother’s and my grama’s. Mom used vinegar, grama just water. I prefer the latter. I have made pickles over the years too. With both success and failure. I tried my hand again this year and had mostly success. One jar was just mush. I think because I used a smaller jar and didn’t adjust the measurements on the salt.

Robert , my pickle loving blog bloke gave me two jars of pickles recently and asked me for my review. Always risky business. If you’re honest you may never get another jar of anything. He used lemon cukes (round, yellow, prickly, with rather large seeds). One jar was sour, the other sweet. When I first bit into the former, I found them a bit too heavily laced with vinegar, but then kept venturing back to the jar and rather liked the experience of extreme, squeeze-your-eyes-shut-screw-up-your-face tartness. The other jar held a sweet surprise – “ a hint of cinnamon in the mix! Inspired! And even though the skin on lemon cukes can be a bit tough, these were crisp and very bitable. I am now chasing the sour with the sweet.

When it comes to pickles, as with most things, taste is subjective. My idea of the perfect pickle is: it is crisp, not too salty, has a real dill flavour and if it is the vinegar variety, not too vinegary. A few tips I have learned from my aunt, another family pickle expert. Don’t use chlorinated water. Chlorine inhibits the fermentation process – “ that’s its job. Use either tap water that’s been sitting out overnight to release the chlorine or bottled water. Use fresh dill and be generous. And my aunt swears by the pickling spice you can buy at Indian markets (and not the stuff you get in the supermarkets). Both my mom and my aunt pick out the cloves.

If this blog goes down, you’ll know my pickle review got me into hot water.  Here’s my aunt’s recipe for water dills.

Aunty Paula’s Pickles

Dills (approx 1 lb) per quart jar

Fresh dill (approx 1 large stalk per jar)

1 large clove garlic (cut in half, half in bottom, half on top)

1 bay leaf

1 red chili pepper

1 tsp mixed pickling spice (cloves removed)

1 tbsp coarse salt (a special type for pickling)

Scrub garden fresh dills, rinse well. Place some dill and half the garlic clove in jar. Pack dills very tightly in jar. Then add the other half garlic, bay leaf, chili pepper, pickling spice and salt. Add some more dill. Fill jars with cold water (chlorine free) and seal tight. A Bick’s type lid works well. Shake to mix salt. Leave for one month before using. Set jars on cardboard or thick layer of newspaper as they will weep. Guess I might want to sit on newspaper too.

3 Replies to “In the Perfect Pickle

  1. Hannah – you don’t have to use vinegar, but they have to be kept cold.

    Spring – thanks for the pickle review – this year’s batch is risky business for me – I usually stick to one or 2 types that my mom and aunt (both named Simone by the way) passed along to me. But to usher in our new era of urban garden, I opted to take some risks.

    I think the sweet pickles are pretty great – I’m not convinced the sour ones work that well with the lemon cukes – but probably should have picked the lemon cukes much smaller for pickling. I like my sour pickles super cripsy – so they snap when you bite them – and these don’t do that. Or at least the one jar we’ve tried so far…

    Now you should see my peaches. OMG they are so good.


  2. Hannah. Nope they won’t rot, all going well. The salt and I guess the pickling spices do the trick. There are even commercial brands out there like Strubs that only use water. They are really delicious.

    Robert, I could do a peach post too if properly motivated….

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