Kosher Dill Pickles

dill pickles in a jar
Kosher Dill Pickles

THIS one is the winner of three canned dill pickle recipes I tried:

KOSHER DILL PICKLES
(Nadia’s favorite hot water bath process pickles)
50-60 Pickling cucumbers (enough to fill 10 quarts)
1 c. canning salt
1 qt. dark vinegar
3 quarts Water
10-20 large cloves garlic, peeled
10-20 heads fresh dill (all depends on size, if small, use 2 per jar)
1 jar grape leave (buy at deli) or 10-20 fresh (1-2 per quart)

Scrub pickles and trim off the blossom ends (they sometimes contain an enzyme that will make pickles soft). If you cucumbers are not picked the same day, put them in a big tub of ice water and let them soak and freshen up for an hour or two.

I like to put 2 grape leaves in each jar. Boil canning salt, vinegar and water. In sterile quart jars, put in garlic first, then 1 grape leaf and ½ to 1 head dill. Then fill jar with the cucumbers (I usually leave them whole but you could use spears) leaving enough room at the top for another head of dill and a grape leaf. Topping with a grape leaf helps keep pickles below the brine and also makes them very crispy. If you don’t have dill, you can use oak leaves (rounded corners, or fresh bay leaves).

Fill the jars with hot brine, cover tightly with fresh lids and process in a hot water bath 10 minutes. (Modern canning methods advise 15 minutes, I always do 10.) You may or may not use all of your brine.

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Fermented Chow-Chow Relish

a jar of chow chow and a half jar of sauerkraut juice
Fermented Chow-Chow alongside some sauerkraut juice

FERMENTED CHOW-CHOW
3 cups roughly chopped green tomatoes
1 cup sweet red peppers, roughly chopped
1 cup green bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped onions
1 or 2 habanero peppers, seeded and quartered
2 T salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups naturally fermented sauerkraut, chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp celery seeds

Chop and mix green tomatoes, sweet peppers, bell peppers, onion and hot peppers. Add salt and sugar. Combine and let sit for 3 hours until juices make your brine. (I keep the veggies in chunks so they will be easier to keep below the brine while fermenting.) Then add chopped sauerkraut (homemade or fresh only), mustard seeds, turmeric and celery seeds. Sauerkraut jump-starts the ferment.

Pack into a 2 quart jars and cover with a cabbage leaf if you have one and use your favorite method to weigh it all down and keep veggies below brine. Cover with tight lid and let sit at room temperature for about a week to ferment.

Remove the weight and covering and taste to be sure it is becoming sour. At this point, you can transfer to a food processor (in batches) and pulse until you get the chop and texture you prefer for chow chow. (Yes, you can leave it big and chunky if you want.)

Return to jar and refrigerate. Flavors develop over time and this tastes best when refrigerator-aged a month or longer. Very good served with hot dogs and brats, but also with chicken and pork (spoon over meats and bake or cook in a slow-cooker). Keeps for months.

Note: You can vary your vegetables depending on what you have on hand, but keep proportions the same with about 3 cups vegetables to each tablespoon of salt. If you do, uses moderately firm textured vegetables. Example: Cauliflower would be a good substitute if you don’t have enough peppers.

Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

pasta salad with dill pickles in it
Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

DILL PICKLE PASTA SALAD

1 (16 oz) pkg large shell pasta
½ cup plus 4 Tbsp dill pickle juice, divided
⅔ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup sour cream
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup sliced small dill pickles (more if you like)
2 Tbsp grated onion
2 Tbsp fresh dill, minced
⅔ cup diced cheddar cheese

Instructions
1. Boil pasta according to pkg directions. Rinse with cold water and drain.

2. In a bowl, toss pasta with ½ cup dill pickle juice and set aside for 5 minutes while you make the dressing.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 Tbsp of dill pick juice with the mayonnaise, sour cream, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

4. Drain off any excess pickle juice with the pasta and toss with the dressing. Mix in all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cheese and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, mix in the cheese. Serves 10.

5. SPECIAL NOTE: If using home fermented dill pickles, the pickle juice will be saltier than commercial brands (or even home canned, which are made with vinegar). In this case, omit salt when boiling pasta and start with only half the amount of juice and taste as you go.

Crispy, Fermented Dill Pickles

jar of fermenting pickles with bubbles on top
Fermenting, natural, pickle barrel style sour dill pickles

CRISPY FERMENTED DILL PICKLES
Have on hand, scrubbed and cleaned: Pickling cucumbers to fill 3 or 4 wide-mouth quart jars
Brine:
6 tbsp pickling salt
1/2 gal (2 quarts) water
Spices per quart jar:
1 T dill seed or 1-2 fresh dill heads
1-2 cloves garlic
1 T mustard seeds (maybe also a teaspoon of pickling spices)
½ tsp hot pepper flakes (optional) or I small, red fresh hot pepper (also optional)
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1-3 grape or bay leaves (the tannins help make pickles crispy)

You will need: 3-4 wide-mouth quart jars or (optional) wire-bale jars, (or use half-gallon size jars) and plastic, non-corrosive lids (available in canning section).

Wash the pickling cucumbers and trim off the blossom ends. The blossoms have enzymes which can cause the cucumbers to soften as they’re pickling. Be sure to scrub this end well to remove all traces of the blossom, or use a sharp knife to take a very thin slice off that end.

Some varieties are spiny, remove them by rubbing with a soft brush or terry cloth. If the cukes aren’t just-picked from your garden, soaking them in ice water will help retain their crunch. Soak them for at least an hour in ice water while you prepare your jars.

Heat ½ gallon of water, add salt and stir to dissolve. Let cool to room temp.

In your jars, place 1 grape leaf on bottom, arrange cucumbers to fit (below the neck), then add spices. Pour in the brine (up to the neck). Top with another grape leaf or two (to keep pickles below brine). Loosely tighten lid just enough that when pressure builds up it can seep out.

Pickles will be done in anywhere from several days to two weeks. Bigger batches in larger containers take longer. Refrigerate when they are done, best eaten in the first month.

HALF-SOUR Hot Refrigerator Dills

jar of pickles
These half-sour refrigerator dills solved all my problems.

I came up with these HALF-SOUR Hot Refrigerator Dills because I could not find a natural, full-sour fermented pickle recipe that didn’t continue to increase in sourness even after refrigeration. This adaptation helped me make natural dill pickles and then arrest the flavor at my personal peak preference. You can do the same thing using this recipe (see step # 10).

5-15 Kirby cucumbers (or however many you can fit into a 2-qt jar)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
few pieces of fresh dill
3 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 cup sea salt
2 T sugar
6 cups water
I/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar (add after ferment, see #10 final instruction).

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Wash cucumbers and trim off blossom ends and stem ends. (Stem ends can be bitter, blossom ends contain enzymes that make pickles soft.)

2. Dissolve sea salt and sugar in the water to make a brine.

3. Mix together all the dry ingredients (coriander, mustard seeds, peppercorns, pepper flakes, 2 bay leaves).

4. Put the cucumbers in a 2-quart jar, then minced garlic, then spices.

5. Pour the brine into the jar. If you have any brine left, disregard it.

6. Add a few pieces of fresh dill on top.

7. Make sure your cucumbers are completely covered in brine and weight them down if necessary and close the jar.

8. Put in the refrigerator. Let them sit for at least a week before testing and eating. They are done when they taste the way you like them. There is no right answer.

9. Best when made in a half-gallon jar.

10. Option: After 1 week to 10 days in fridge, add ½ cup raw apple cider vinegar and let sit for a few days. After that, these pickles will disappear fast.

Hot Pepper Jelly

yellow jelly in jars
Easy Hot Pepper Jelly

HOT PEPPER JELLY
(I made this batch with Habaneros and Yellow Peppers. With jalapenos, try using green peppers for a green jelly.) Yield: makes about 4 cups

8 jalapeno peppers (or about 3 habaneros)
12 ounces assorted colorful bell peppers (weighed after trimming)
2 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 box (1.75 oz.) no sugar needed pectin

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Wash the jalapenos and trim the stem end off. Remove the seeds if you want a milder jelly. I recommend using the whole peppers, seeds and all. Give them a rough chop and then pulse them in the food processor until they are finely minced. Be careful, the fumes will be strong, and make sure to wash your hands well after working with hot peppers. Put the peppers into a heavy bottomed pot.

2. Wash and trim the bell peppers, and remove the inner ribs and seeds. Give them a rough chop and pulse them in a food processor until finely minced. You may want to do this in batches, because I find you get a more even chop if you don’t crowd the bowl. Add the bell peppers to the pot with the jalapenos.

3. Add the vinegar and sugar to the pot and stir to combine. At this point, you can taste your mixture and adjust for more hotness if desired. Bring the pot up to a boil, and then add the pectin. Boil, stirring, for one minute.

4. Ladle the hot Jelly into clean jars and set aside to cool before capping and refrigerating.

5. If your pepper bits float to the top, you can give the jelly an occasional stir as it cools to distribute them more evenly.

6. When the jelly is cool, cap and refrigerate the jars. They will thicken as they cool, and even more as they chill.

7. Serve with goat or cream cheese, and crackers or grilled slices of baguette.