Search This Blog

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Dill Pickles - The Authentic Method

This is Summer in Australia. The time when there is so much produce in the vegetable garden that it is impossible to keep up with the quantity maturing each day. Friends and visitors are always offered all the surplus. There is a mental list of people who don't have their own gardens and who need to be kept onside such as our dairy farmer. This group is showered with only the finest produce. The chooks and the cattle get their fair share. Every year we promise to plant less or at least try to stagger the planting. Each year we get a little better but fail to achieve perfect harmony.

Tomatoes are drying in the dryer. In desperation sliced Zucchini is also drying. It is a bit leathery but it might work as a Winter Pizza topping with a bit of a soak and chop. Tomato puree has reached the 23 x 750 ml bottle stage and we still have bottles from 2012 and 2013.  No drying of Tomatoes has occurred for some years as we had such a stockpile. Now that that pile is down to 2 x 3 litre jars the drying has commenced with a twist. Rather than go for the completely dry format they are being pulled out and placed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil when they are still just that little bit moist. Taste wise these are lovely - no need to soak out the excess salt.

Dried Tomatoes and Zucchini

But what to do with the Cucumbers? A decade or so ago we tried salt and vinegar but they really weren't all that great unless chopped finely and used as a garnish on smoked Salmon in place of Capers. Bread and Butter Cucumbers although tasty have sugar which is the last thing needed in a healthy diet or at least kept to a minimum and it is the sugar that dominated the flavour rather than the Cucumber.  A couple of times we purchase Dill Pickles from the wholesaler. These were Kosher pickles made in Israel and they were fantastic, crunchy without vinegar - just a little salt. This year after some research we found a purer form of making Dill Pickles and tried the recipe. Wow what a success. Flavoured with Dill seed (no Dill plant available), Garlic and Chilli. Just like Sauerkraut these whole Cucumbers fermented over a few days and tasted magnificent. The salt was balanced, the Cucumber crisp and just a little hint of chilli and the lovely overtones of Dill.

Just started, notice the bright green colour

An older batch losing that bright green

The first batches repackaged

BUT the story doesn't end there. By chance, amongst the batch of books in the last foray to the Newcastle University Library a copy of "Microbiology of Food Fermentations" by Carl S. Pederson found its way into the house. It has a great section on making Dill Pickles backed up with the science. How much salt, how it works, temperatures, times and much more. And don't worry about the cloudy liquid as that is a sign of quality. The longer the ferment and the less salt the better the end result.

The tip of the century was using a plastic sheet across the fermentation vessel mouth which is filled with water to exclude air but still allow gases to escape. The experimentation continues with salt levels and cucumber sizes. You all know how it is when you overlook a cucumber in the patch and the next day it is a foot or more long and just not as tasty as those young immature ones. This recipe could be the solution for those oversights.

Plastic cap with water

This is the recipe online which we tried first Real Kosher Dill Pickles.

From Pederson's book a few tips:
  • 3-6 weeks for ferment to cure
  • Cut off the the tip where the flower was i.e. opposite end to the stalk
  • 5% or less salt in the brine. 5.3 -6.6% will yield 3.3 to 3.6 % salt in the pickle
  • DO NOT USE VINEGAR it will kill the good bugs
  • Brine will become increasingly cloudy for the first few days and foaming occurs
  • Darkness is required
  • Will keep for extended periods if pasteurised at 165 F or 74 C for 15 minutes and rapidly cooled
  • Storage temperature is ideally 35-40 F or 4 C
  • Cloudiness is a good thing
  • The less salt the slower the ferment and the better the quality of the pickle

No comments:

Post a Comment