Last month, I was reading the August issue of Real Simple when I came across a recipe for homemade pickles. I was intrigued. I had never canned anything before and this seemed like a good place to start since the pickles only needed to marinate for a day before being ready to eat. I added the ingredients to my shopping list, bought a one-quart glass jar and prepared to get to work. There was just one problem: I couldn’t find dill seed ANYWHERE. Whole Foods has an extensive array of spices and though dill weed was abundant, dill seed was not. I went to a few other stores and they, too, did not have dill seed. This was—pardon the pun—a bit of a pickle. And the irony of this recipe coming from a magazine that celebrates simplicity did not escape me. But I wasn’t ready to give up yet. I back burnered the homemade pickles idea for a few weeks, and then I remembered a site I had read about on Brown Eyed Baker called called MySpiceSage.com. They carry every spice known to man—and some I guarantee you’ve never heard of before. The prices were pretty reasonable and I got free ground chipotle pepper and a free ounce of a spice of my choosing. (I went with vanilla bean because I want to make ice cream once more before the summer is over.) Sold! I ordered an ounce of dill seed and an ounce of bay leaves and prepared to resurrect the pickle project once again! I bought Kirby cucumbers at the farmers market and once the spices arrived, I got to work for real. (By the way, if anyone needs bay leaf let me know. I’ve got a bagful. Who knew an ounce would yield so much?) After two days, Johnny and I tasted the pickles. Delicious!
I had some for lunch today with an open faced turkey sandwich topped with a slice of heirloom tomato, one of God’s greatest creations, which also happens to be in season right now. The pickles are crispy and just the right amount of sour. Plus, since they’re homemade, I know they aren’t loaded with sodium and preservatives. And despite the difficulty of getting my hands on dill seed (a dilemma which MySpiceSage.com solved for me) the pickles were “real simple” to make. Sandwiches anyone?
Almost Hands-Free Dill Pickles
4 Kirby cucumbers (about 1 pound)
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 small sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla) thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 bay leaf
Place the cucumbers in a 1-quart jar or some other container with a tight-fitting lid. In a bowl, combine the vinegar, onion, garlic, sugar, dill seed, peppercorns, bay leaf, salt and 3/4 cup hot tap water. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour the vinegar mixture into the jar with the cucumbers, cover, and refrigerate for at least one day before serving. The pickles will last up to one week.
**Note: I bought four cucumbers, but I couldn’t fit them all in the jar, so I’d go with three. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.