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Farmdrop’s guide to pickling – how to make dill pickles

25th April 2020

We’re all looking for ways to reduce our food waste. From using your veggie scraps for a nice hearty stock to freezing your herbs to keep them fresh, there are loads of handy tips to help your food go that bit further. For me, it’s pickling. Not only is it really easy, but it’s a great way to experiment and come up with new flavour combinations for your brines. In this series we’re going to show you some of the many ways we can use brines and fermentation to make your veg go that extra mile.

It feels only right that for our first lesson, we start with a classic. It’s in your burgers, it’s on your hot dogs, you eat them on their own, or, if you’re that way inclined, with peanut butter. That’s right, it’s everyone’s favourite – pickled cucumbers. In the world of pickling there are many ways to skin a cat, it’s totally up to preference, but today we’ll be giving you a basic how to guide for making half-sour and full-sour pickled cucumbers. It’s also important to note that in this recipe I’ve used mini cucumbers, however they can easily be substituted for sliced regular cucumber!

A quick rundown of what that means. Full-sour, which is the most common style of pickle, uses a vinegar brine to pickle the vegetable and is ready to eat in a few days. Half-sour is pickling by natural fermentation The half-sour method uses salt to bring out the water content of whatever it is you’re pickling to create a brine that way. This method is most common for making foods like sauerkraut. Fermented pickles contain probiotics and other beneficial live bacteria whereas a vinegar-brined pickle doesn’t, and will take a few days longer than a full-sour pickle.

A quick word about jars and sterilisation. You can use any glass jar to pickle, but it’s best to sterilise them to get rid of any bacteria that might be living in the jar. To do this, wash out your jars and lids with hot soapy water. If they have a rubber seal, sterilise that by popping it into boiling water for a few minutes. Once you’ve rinsed all the soap suds off your jar, put them upside down on a baking tray, and leave them in the oven for 5 or so minutes at 140ºC. Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool, then they’ll be good to go!

Full-sour pickled cucumber recipe

This is my preferred method of pickled cucumber, and to be honest I like to keep it pretty simple. I used Aspalls Cyder Vineger for this recipe as I think the slight fruitiness goes really well, but you can substitute it for most other vinegars. 

Ingredients

  • 8-10 mini cucumbers
  • 400ml apple cider vinegar
  • 130ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 10 peppercorns
  • Handful fresh dill
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 chilli, sliced (seeds optional)

Method

Give your mini cucumbers a quick wash and set aside.

  1. Add 400ml of apple cider vinegar, 130ml of water and 100g of caster sugar to a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and pour the mixture into your jar.
  2. Next add all your herbs and spices to the mixture and stir well.
  3. Lastly add your mini cucumbers to the jar and refrigerate for at least 4 days.

Half-sour dill pickles

Half-sour pickles are a great alternative if you don’t like your pickles overly sweet or acidic. Unlike full-sour pickles, where the brine provides a huge amount of flavour, these pickles really utilise the flavours of whatever you put in with them. For this reason I like to add a few extras that I missed on the previous recipe, like mustard seeds, fresh celery, and fennel seeds. These take a few extra days until they’re ready to be eaten, but they’re packed full of flavour.

Ingredients

  • 8-10 mini cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 pints of room temperature water
  • 21g table salt
  • A handful of fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 15 peppercorns
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped
  • 1 chilli, sliced (seeds optional)

Method

Give your mini cucumbers a quick wash and set aside.

  1. Pour your room temp water into your jar then add the salt. Close the lid and give the jar a good shake until the water has dissolved.
  2. Start by adding your herbs and spices to the brine, give it a good stir to make sure everything’s mixed together.
  3. Lastly add your mini cucumbers. Give everything a stir, pop the lid back on and put it in the fridge. Once a day I like to give the jar a little shake just to make sure all the ingredients are combining with each other. The pickles should be ready in about 10 days or so.

Quick tip: To keep your pickles crunchy you want to add a couple of tannin-rich ingredients like bay leaves. Just pop a few in with your pickles to keep them nice and crunchy!

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