I don’t know about you, but when it comes to pickles, I want them to be crispy, salty, and sour. And let’s not forget the tangy dill and the zing from garlic. It’s what I like to call ‘pickle power’. Today, I want to share with you my special homemade garlic dill pickle recipe that never fails to deliver that incredible flavor.
A Family Tradition
This recipe holds a special place in my heart because I used to make it with my Grandma every year. I would help her stuff the jars with cucumbers and ensure that each one had the perfect amount of garlic, dill, and pickling spices. We would then pour the brine and seal the jars, ready to be enjoyed throughout the year.
Every time I make a jar of pickles, I am reminded of those cherished memories. This recipe has stood the test of time – I’ve been making these pickles for 40 years now! The best part is, you can also use the same brine to pickle asparagus, carrots, or green beans.
But let me tell you, making pickles is not foolproof, even with this fantastic recipe. So before you begin, read the recipe carefully and follow my tips and tricks to ensure you create the best pickles for your loved ones.
Selecting the Perfect Cucumbers for Pickling
In the old days, my grandma would handpick the smallest cucumbers from her garden for pickling. Nowadays, there are specific ‘pickling cucumber’ varieties available that have thin skin and crisp flesh, perfect for pickling.
Here’s how to select the best cucumbers for pickling:
- Choose firm pickling cucumbers that are heavy for their size. Avoid wrinkling or puckering at either end.
- Look for cucumbers with a dry skin and even, dark green color. Avoid those with yellow streaks as they will go soft after pickling.
- Stick to cucumbers that are 2-3 inches in length, roughly the size of your thumb. Avoid any longer than 4 inches.
- Check for green stems or flower ends still attached to ensure freshness.
- If you’re harvesting cucumbers from your garden, pick them in the morning for the best flavor.
Ingredients for Garlic Dill Pickles
Now that you know how to select the perfect pickling cucumbers, let’s go over the other ingredients you’ll need:
- Fresh Dill
- Pickling Salt
- Garlic Cloves
- Pickling Spices
For maximum flavor, it’s best to use flowering dill heads instead of ‘baby dill’. The dill develops a more pronounced pungent flavor once it goes to seed, making it perfect for pickling. If fresh dill isn’t available, you can use dill seeds instead.
Pickling salt is the best kind of salt to use for making brine. It dissolves quickly and doesn’t have any additives that could cloud the brine. If you can’t find pickling salt, you can use kosher salt, but you’ll need roughly 50% more to replace the amount of pickling salt.
This recipe calls for distilled white vinegar with at least 5% acetic acid. This minimum amount of acetic acid is necessary to properly preserve the pickles. While white vinegar is the most common choice, you can use any vinegar as long as it contains at least 5% acetic acid.
Pro tip: If you prefer less tangy pickles, you can add 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar to the brine.
Finally, you’ll need fresh garlic cloves and a new bag of pickling spices. Common spices in a pickling blend include coriander seeds, mustard seed, bay leaf, dill seed, black peppercorns, fenugreek, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice berries. If you want some heat, feel free to add red chili flakes.
Making the Garlic Dill Pickles
Before diving into the pickling process, let’s ensure we’re fully prepared:
- Fill a hot water bath canner with water and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, scrub and trim the pickling cucumbers. Leave them in cold water until you’re ready to pack the jars.
- Inspect the pint-sized mason jars and their lids. Make sure there are no chips on the jar rims, and the lids are free of rust or dents. Place the jars upside down in a large cake pan filled with an inch or two of water and keep them warm in a 250°F oven.
- Heat the lids and lid rings in a large saucepan until they just begin to boil. Boil a kettle of water.
To make the brine, add water, vinegar, and salt to a medium pot. If using sugar, add it as well. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve completely.
Lastly, clean and prep the garlic, dill, and pickling spices.
Filling the Jars
Now it’s time to pack those jars full of pickle goodness:
- Use a jar grabber to carefully take the hot jars out of the oven, one at a time. Add half a garlic clove and a flowering dill head to each jar.
- Quickly but purposefully arrange the cucumbers in the jar, making sure to pack them tightly.
- Add another garlic half and half a teaspoon of pickling spices. Top it all off with the hot brine, leaving about 1 cm of headspace.
- Cover the jar with a hot lid and screw on the sealing ring until it’s just tight, but not too tight.
Hot Water Processing
It’s time to process those jars to ensure they stay preserved and delicious:
- Place the filled jars in the canning rack, ensuring there’s an inch of water above the pint jars. Add boiling water from the kettle or remove water as needed.
- Cover the canner and bring the water to a rolling boil. Process the jars for 10 minutes at sea level or 20 minutes at altitudes over 3000 ft.
- Check the water level occasionally and add boiling water if needed to ensure the jars remain covered.
- Once processed, remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool at room temperature overnight. Check to make sure all the jars have sealed properly. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and consumed first.
Allow the pickles to sit in the brine for a few weeks to develop their full flavor. Then, enjoy the crispy, salty, and tangy goodness of your homemade garlic dill pickles!
Remember, this recipe holds a special place in my heart, and I hope it becomes a beloved tradition in your family too. For more amazing recipes and food inspiration, visit Takeout Food.
Now grab some cucumbers and get pickling!