Monday, February 9, 2015

Crispy Dill Pickles

Pickles are just great, aren't they? They go well with just about anything, but I think they are really good with a grilled burger or a homemade deli sandwich.

For the best crispy pickles, I use Ball Pickle Crisp Granules. This helps keep the pickles crisp when canning, and it's very easy to add to almost any pickle recipe.

What is pickle crisp?  It's calcium chloride. For those of us who like to make our own pickles, relish or anything that has that long, frustrating, pre-soaking process involving pickling lime, there is a simple solution.  Pickling crisp!!

For those of you who do not know what the pickling lime process is and are interested in making/canning your own pickles, pickling lime is a product you buy and is required in most recipes that require pickling and helps improve the firmness by adding calcium that reinforces the pectin in the vegetable being pickled.

For example, using cucumbers, you would mix the pickling lime in water according to the package directions and let it soak for a full day (if not longer) rinsing at min of 3 times.  You will have to soak and rinse repeatedly until the water is clear.  Lime is alkaline so you have to make sure to get rid of all of it in the rinses process or it will reduce the acidity that you will use to pickle your vegetable with.  When you have alkalinity it reduces the Ph as well which neutralizes the acidity and can lead to botulism.  For this very reason, it is not recommended to use pickling lime any longer.  It can be a pain in the rear anyway, especially in today’s society where we are always so busy and don’t have time to rinse the vegetables a bunch of times.

That leads us to pickling crisp!  It replaces pickling lime, which home picklers have long used to firm cucumbers into pickles .

Calcium chloride aka pickle crisp is easier to use: you add 1/8 teaspoon along with the fruit or vegetable pieces and the pickling liquid to a pint jar, or 1/4 teaspoon to a quart jar and voila!  Your done!  No long soaking and rinsing process to deal with, thank goodness.

I really like crisp dill pickles, and this recipe produces exactly that, crisp pickle spears just like those you can buy in the grocery store, only better because you control what's in them.

Pickles take minutes to make, and only process only 10-15 minutes in a boiling water bath. It's one of the best ways to preserve those summer cucumbers so you have them to enjoy whenever you want some.

1-2 large organic cucumbers or 10 small pickling cucumbers, blossom end removed and sliced into spears
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. pickle crisp
1 tsp. dried dill
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
1 tbls. pickling and canning salt

Bring vinegar, water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, cut cucumbers into spears. Place all other ingredients in a quart canning jar (or divide between 2 pint canning jars).  Add cucumber spears, packing jars fairly tightly.

Carefully pour hot liquid mixture over the cucumber spears in jar, leaving 1/2" head-space.

Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes for pints and 15 minutes for quarts.

Remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed on your kitchen counter-top 24 hours.

Sealed jars can be stored in a pantry up to one year. Pickles are BEST if you wait about 4 weeks until you open a jar so the flavors can develop.

Yield:  1 quart or 2 pints

Cook's note - recipe is easily doubled.


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