15 Mar2011

I love a good dill pickle. A reuben or corned beef sandwich and a juicy dill pickle is almost always on my “must eat” list when we visit New York. And nothing beats a properly made pickle, without all the preservatives, heat treatments, etc. that might go into a typical grocery pickle with a shelf life of years… I have made dill pickles at home before, but for some reason, my homemade pickles have never been as good as the artisanal ones you can buy in specialty shops in New York. So instead of trying to replicate those, I decided to do a much lighter, brighter dill pickle, made with the freshest ingredients and with a chilled vinegar and sugar solution, so that the pickles stayed as fresh looking as possible.

While on my recent diet, I have taken to bottling food, preparing preserved fruits like langka and lemons, and brining batuans, making pickled green papaya and hearts of palm, ginger, beets, etc. I guess I figure I can enjoy the fruits of my labor later, though I doubt I will be able to eat even a fraction of the bounty that is now stored in our fridges. :) So when I spied some wonderful looking gherkins or pickling cucumbers from “Basic Necessity” at S&R a few days ago, I decided to make some pickles.

The last time I made cucumber pickles using the Momofuku recipe, here, the pickles turned out okay, but lacked a bit of flavor and had a classic olive color (I suppose the vinegar will do that to a green vegetable). This time around, I wanted a more complex pickling liquid and if possible, a brighter color. These are refrigerator pickles and not treated to heat at all, so they will only last a few weeks rather than months.

So here’s how I made the pickles. Buy two packages of fresh gherkins and wash them well. Cut them in half lengthwise. Into a small to medium sized glass bottle, add several sprigs of fresh dill. Maybe a teaspoon each of mustard, coriander and fennel seeds should be added to the bottle. Carefully arrange the pickle spears upright in the bottle until they are tightly packed. Meanwhile, or even earlier in the day, make a pickling solution of 1.5 cups warm water and 1 cup good vinegar, I use a light rice wine vinegar, but a good apple cider vinegar would also work well. Add a cup of sugar, and some 7-8 teaspoons of salt. Mix well until the liquid is clear. Cool or chill this liquid. Pour the liquid over the pickles and make sure they are fully submerged in the pickling liquid.

Shake the bottle a bit so that the air bubbles come up and a few of the seeds and dill are better distributed. Close the bottle and store in the fridge for a few days before serving. Perfect with tunafish sandwiches, as a side to meaty sandwiches, hotdogs, etc. After 3 days… I opened the bottle and just took a small pickle half and it was EXCELLENT. Still crunchy, fresh tasting but clearly pickled. So light and refreshing, exactly how I hoped it would taste. Now if only my diet allowed them. :(



  1. emsy says:

    you can’t eat pickles? but why??? :(

    Mar 15, 2011 | 5:22 pm


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  3. lee says:

    pretty pickle origami in liquid suspension. Looks nice for a table setting.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 6:10 pm

  4. Anne :-) says:

    This is the first time I heard of cucumber pickled with dills….this is fun, thanks for sharing MM.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 6:12 pm

  5. Footloose says:

    Looks crunchy and dillicious. Watch out though, pickling they say, and earnest comparison shopping are two surefire signs of aging in men.

    Anne, actually it is the default pickle in North America. You have to search high and low for sweet pickles as we know it (in the Philippines) back here.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 6:36 pm

  6. sister says:

    You might try making dill pickles without sugar, just salt, garlic, dill seeds, just like the half sour or sour kosher dills.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 7:32 pm

  7. scramoodles says:

    I think MM wouldn’t eat pickles because it encourages one to indulge in sandwiches :) Oh, these are just yummy. I love pickles.

    Keep the faith strong MM! I have gone cold turkey on smoking for more than a week now. While it’s not exactly the same, all we need is our self-control and we will prevail. On to a better body and better health!!!

    Mar 15, 2011 | 7:58 pm

  8. edel says:

    i love gherkins though not the pickled kind… i just dip it in japanese mayo + spicy dressing :D

    Mar 15, 2011 | 8:52 pm

  9. Gerry says:

    Is there a timeframe for your diet? 172 lbs. for a six foot frame sounds good. Eat and exercise should make you feel less deprived and probably happier.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 9:15 pm

  10. satomi says:

    Corned Beef/Reuben is one of my fave too!!! Although Katz’s Deli is popular for their Pastrami, the Reuben at Katz’s is pretty good too. Melt in your mouth corned beef w/ sauerkraut and melted swiss cheese!! yummo! MM are you preparing for St. Patrick’s Day?!! heehee

    Mar 15, 2011 | 9:34 pm

  11. NYCMama says:

    I like the half-sour pickles because they taste closer to fresh, are really just “half-sour”, and look closer to fresh too. They manage to retain much of the white color of fresh cucumbers and don’t turn olive. I miss Gus’ pickles on the Lower East Side. Not that they were the only source of half sours, but it’s just a part of Old New York that is now gone forever.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 10:00 pm

  12. Maria Isabel Rodrigo says:

    i love the photos and is salivating at the contrasts of shapes and textures.

    Mar 15, 2011 | 10:00 pm

  13. monique ignacio says:

    I want to try this recipe! I have lots of vinegar from Ilocos. Do you think this will work out?

    Mar 15, 2011 | 10:19 pm

  14. kAi says:

    Interesting. Might want to try it, but having a problem looking for the spices and herbs here. I’ve been trying to find fennel seeds for an italian sausage recipe, but don’t have any luck.

    May I ask what’s the brand of the mustard & corriander seeds? Did I read Santi’s right?
    I googled and found http://www.werdenberg.com/santis/, wondering if it’s the same one?
    (I’m from Davao, hence I’m not familiar)

    Hoping they have those available online and they deliver to Davao, so all my spices dilemma will be answered. :(

    Mar 15, 2011 | 11:04 pm

  15. tonceq says:

    Mmmmmm! Pickles! I don’t know why it is but I have quite a number of contemporaries who abhor pickles (they take them out whenever they encounter the gherkins in sandwhiches.. or they give them to me!)… Anyone experience this with the younger generation? :)

    Mar 15, 2011 | 11:31 pm

  16. millet says:

    kai, those spices are available at the grocery in gaisano mall.

    MM, have been wanting to make these for a long time as my family loves dill pickles. my sons even snack on dill spears every now and then. these look brilliant, and you’re right about the vivid green color – they look so fresh! will surely try this as soon as i get my stuff together.

    Mar 16, 2011 | 9:26 am

  17. Patricia says:

    That’s pretty interesting! I tried refrigerator pickles recently and I liked how it turned out (more sour than sweet). From that point on, I knew I wasn’t going to buy ready made pickles for the rest of my life. :P

    My question here is, does it matter what kind of cucumbers I use? I had just been using whatever cucumbers I see in the supermarket. How does that differ from the pickling cucumbers you mentioned?

    Mar 16, 2011 | 10:14 am

  18. Joy says:

    That looks wonderful. I have been craving pickles. I can’t wait to try this.

    Mar 16, 2011 | 10:22 am

  19. cumin says:

    I guess MM can’t eat them because of sugar and salt?

    kAi, if you’re in Metro Manila, you can get fennel seeds from Assad’s, an Indian grocer with branches at Jupiter St, Makati and UN Ave, Manila.

    Mar 16, 2011 | 10:31 am

  20. Jessi says:

    Beautiful photos & i’m sure these pickles are as good as they look! Thank you for the inspiring articles, recipes and photos. :)

    Mar 16, 2011 | 4:47 pm

  21. kAi says:

    @millet… sometimes they don’t carry it though, or it comes in really big canisters (industrial use). or maybe i’m looking in the wrong aisle? hehe… i usually go straight to the mccormick area and look for spices. not just the ones listed above. thanks, will try to make “suyod” the grocery there.

    @cumin… hmm.. thanks, if ever i’m in Manila, I’ll check it out.

    anyway, the site for Santi’s ecatalogue seem to have some error. ohwell. :(

    sana Gourdo’s would have spices in their online store too.

    Mar 16, 2011 | 4:48 pm

  22. Angelo says:

    Why can’t you have any pickles in your diet? Is it the salt?

    Mar 16, 2011 | 9:16 pm

  23. Tracy says:

    One of the things I learned while studying in the States was how to appreciate a good crunchy fresh refrigerated pickle, and not those things that you fish out of your yumburger from Jollibee. With a good sandwich, especially from this hole in the wall place near my university.

    @Angelo pickles are surprisingly high in calories. My housemates and I once bought jars of hot and sweet pickle chips (just pickles but sliced perpendicular instead of parallel) and you’d think cucumbers would be low in calories but somehow, once pickled they’re not.

    Mar 16, 2011 | 11:44 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    Yes, pickles have sugar and salt, hence off my current diet. Pickles with sugar in the brining solution also possess some calories you wouldn’t expect. Kai, Santis delicatessens in Manila seem to have the spices you mention, or I suppose Flavors n Spices in Market!Market! Mall in Manila would also have them. Patricia, yes, the type of cucumbers does matter. I have found that normal salad cucumbers get rather mushy or aren’t as firm as say pickling gherkins (in the photos above) or small firm “Japanese” cucumbers. millet, these are really nice, had another one yesterday despite the ban on salt and sugar, and these are fresh, crisp and flavorful. I do wonder how long they will last that way, maybe a month at most… tonceq, I have to admit, as a kid, I loved sweet pickles and wasn’t keen on dills. But now, dills and other less sweet pickles are my favorites… monique ignacio, I have never done these with ilocos vinegar, so you might want to try a very small batch first to check out results… NYCMama, yes, Gus’ was just one of those iconic places for food in NY… satomi, haven’t really celebrated St. Patrick’s Day so other than a bit of green clothing wise… its a normal day for us menu wise. Gerry, I want to hit 167 lbs before refeeding, exercise and attempted maintenance at around say 175 or so for the next few months. And I am roughly at 170 now, so just 3-4 more pounds. :) Footloose, egads, I have been pickling up a storm in recent weeks!

    Mar 17, 2011 | 6:07 am

  25. Marketman says:

    BTW, the pickles are nearly a week old now, and are in fact starting to turn a little more olive green, but still look much fresher than supermarket pickles…

    Mar 17, 2011 | 9:02 am

  26. Marketfan says:

    love the photos, MM

    Mar 17, 2011 | 12:24 pm

  27. Starshadow Rivaulx says:

    *sigh* This entry about pickles reminds me about the one thing my husband and I miss most about his old bachelor place…the kamias tree that was a faithful producer of some of the most succulent fruit you could care to see in the Metro area.

    Every summer, he and his siblings would harvest the fruit, and without fail, the moment he arrived home with his share, out would come the preserve bottles and in would go freshly washed kamias. Nothing fancy about the solution, just water and plain salt.

    We always made it a point to barbecue ribs or roast a chicken on the day the burong kamias were ready to be eaten; totally added sparkle to plain steamed rice and meat in its natural juices. Yum! :)

    Mar 18, 2011 | 1:59 pm

  28. Suzette says:

    I love dill pickles. Now I have to go look where I stashed the pickle making book I bought months ago from Fully Booked. I’m inspired by your wonderful photo.
    My lolo would make dill pickled gherkins, burong mangga and kimchi before and we would all impatiently wait for it to mature. The minute it landed on the table it would be gone in a few hours.

    Mar 18, 2011 | 10:30 pm

  29. Cathy says:

    hi MM, I love your blog.,enjoyed it so much., maybe you can help me out, i want to know where i can purchase this type of pickles here in Manila, thanks a lot

    Sep 15, 2012 | 6:16 pm

  30. Roland says:

    You can’t purchase Dill Pickles in the Philippines that is the problem. No one here knows what a pickle is all they know is sweet pickles. Sweet pickles are not a Pickle. It is a candied cucumber. I want to know where to buy the Dill weed. I hate you cannot buy a real pickle in the Philippines. Great rescipe you posted but where did you get the Dill. I could pickle them but can’t find dill even mail order.

    Dec 7, 2012 | 4:38 pm

  31. Marketman says:

    Roland, they do have dill pickles in Metro Manila. Try Metro Grocery Market!Market!, S&R, Rustan’s etc. VLASIC dills are on grocery shelves relatively often. As for fresh dill, its not plentiful at the moment, due to recent weather, but it will be more plentiful from February onwards… weekend markets will have it, groceries will have it. I have used lots of dill for pickles, to make my own gravlax salmon, etc…

    Dec 7, 2012 | 8:06 pm


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