I long ago gave up on ever making a crispy canned dill pickle. All canned dills, no matter what, always, always, always ended up softish. Not even the addition of a fresh grape leaf to each jar (which my mom did faithfully) much helped. The only way to get a crispy dill, I finally concluded, was via refrigerator dills. So that’s what I did — and I have a very good recipe, if I do say so myself — but I usually only make a half gallon or so at a time. Because who has space for clunky gallon jars of dills in their fridge, am I right? (I’m right.)
And then one of my friends let slip that she’d discovered The Trick to making canned crispy dills. All you do, she said, is in the evening fill your jars with cucumbers, garlic, and dill, top them off with a boiling salt-vinegar-sugar brine, screw on the lids, and pop the jars in a 250-degree oven for 10 minutes, at which point you turn off the oven and let the jars sit in there until morning.
For real? I said, jaw on the floor.
For real, she said.
So this spring I planted 12 (or was it 18?) cucumber plants. Not just for the dills — I’m the only one who really eats them — but also for sweets. We’d been totally out of sweet pickles for months, much to everyone’s tremendous annoyance, and I’d been compensating with assorted, (far too) expensive jars of pickles, none of which the kids liked as much as our homemade sweets. (I have a very good recipe for sweets, if I do say so myself….)
So anyway. I made a batch of these oven dills and then had to sit on my hands for a couple weeks, waiting for the flavors to develop. At long last, I finally popped open a jar and bit into the first dill and — CRUNCH. It worked!!!
These pickles actually have that wonderful, much longed-for snap and crunch! They’re not quite as crunchy as the refrigerator dills, but they are leagues crunchier than any other home-canned dill pickle I’ve ever had.
gazpacho and dill pickles for breakfast, mmmm
Crunchy Oven-Canned Dill Pickles
Adapted from my friend Amber’s recipe.
The second time I made these, a few of the jars didn’t seal, probably because:
1) I didn’t bring the brine to a full boil, and
2) I put the jars in the oven before I turned it on to preheat, which meant the temp in the jars maybe dropped a bit.
According to my friend’s notes, if the jars don’t seal, just let them go for another 12 hours and they will most likely do their thing. I didn’t quite trust that, though (never mind that there’s plenty of vinegar, we’ve been known to eat jars of pickles that have unsealed, and you can see/smell problem jars), so I popped those jars into the door of the barn fridge. We’ll use them up first, lickety-split.
per pint jar:
cucumbers, washed and cut into spears
1 small head of fresh dill
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
a pinch of red pepper flakes
Put the garlic and red pepper in the bottom of the jars. Tuck in the fresh dill. Arrange the cucumber spears, packing them in firmly.
for the brine:
1 quart water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup uniodized salt
3 teaspoons white sugar
Combine all four ingredients, and bring to a full rolling boil. Pour the brine over the cucumbers. Wipe the rims of the jars and screw on the lids and rings.
Place the jars in an oven that’s been preheated to 250 degrees. Do not over-crowd; leave a couple inches of space around each jar. “Bake” the cucumbers for 15 minutes. Once the time is up, turn off the oven, leaving the jars, undisturbed, in the oven overnight. If any of the jars haven’t sealed by the morning, let them sit a little longer (they may still seal) or simply transfer them to the fridge.
The pickles are ready to eat after two weeks.
This same time, years previous: fun times, the quotidian (8.3.20), the quotidian (8.5.19), glazed lemon zucchini cake, kiss the moon, kiss the sun, horses, hair, and eveything else under the sun, gingerbread.