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. :(