When one of my best friends got married seven years ago, her 92 year-old grandfather spoke during the wedding and he stole the show. He gave some wonderful marital advice that Gus and I refer to to this day. He spoke with fifty years of marriage under his belt and he said something to the effect of, “For a marriage to last, there are three things you need to say to your partner. Hopefully the first one is easy and you say it often, ‘I love you.’ The second one can be a little bit more tricky, but is still very important, ‘I’m sorry.’ And the third can be downright maddening, but is probably the most important of all… ‘You might be right.'”
So honey, “You might be right.”
When I decided to try making pickles this summer, you might remember that my husband’s one request was that we please try a few different recipes in small batches, versus going whole hog down the road of one untested recipe and then not liking it, but having a massive amount of jars sitting waiting to be consumed or not (I assume this was his thought process). Although I followed his advice, I did think it was rather silly, because of course all the pickles would be delectable. Well, it turns out I was wrong… and this was a good idea. I tried three recipes and there is a very clear winner! Yippee! The one that I thought would be the best, was not, in fact it was not good at all. But I still call the event a success, because one of the recipes turned out very well. It is a classic dill style and has just the right amount of tart, dilliness to enjoy many different ways.
So, as promised, here is the recipe for the very clear winner, Spicy Dill Pickles. The recipe I used was from Tart & Sweet, by Kelly Geary and Jesse Knadler – a wonderful cookbook that takes urban canning to the next level with innovative recipes and great instruction. This particular recipe is very straightforward and easy. With pickling, since you add your spices to the jar itself, you can play with how spicy to make your pickles or omit a spice completely if it is not to your taste. So satisfying!
Spicy Dill Pickles
4 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 1/2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, ends trimmed, quartered into spears
3 cloves garlic
3 dill heads or 4-5 large dill sprigs
2 hot peppers, such as habanero or serrano
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
1 tablespoon brown mustard seed
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a medium nonreactive pot. Stir to dissolve the salt.
Place garlic, dill, peppers, and spices in each hot jar. Pack cucumbers in as tightly as possible without crushing. Pour in boiling brine, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Make sure the cucumbers are submerged in the brine.
Check for air bubbles, wipe the rims, and seal. Process for 15 minutes, adjusting for elevation. Yield 4 quarts.
Note: I brined the pickles overnight and kept my pickles whole as they were on the small side. I also used pint jars versus quart, so my yield was 8 pints. I will try these again next year, but I might also try fermenting a batch to see how they compare!