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Recipe

Cucumber Dill Pickle Spears and Chips

Kevin West

Yield: Yields 2 quarts

Processing your pickles in a hot-water bath rather than a boiling-water bath will give you a firmer texture. It follows that if you want pickles with real snap, don’t process them at all. These dill-pickle spears—or sandwich chips, depending on how you slice them—can be processed, if you want, for long-term shelf storage, but first try making a batch to keep in the refrigerator. They will be crisp, and the flavor of raw cucumber comes through. The recipe can be scaled up.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 6 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 3 large flowering dill heads (4 inches across)
  • 3 lb. Kirby pickling cucumbers
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups white-wine vinegar

Preparation

  • Dissolve the salt in the water, and add the coriander, fennel, and dill. Set aside.
  • Scrub the cucumbers well, rubbing off any spines. Cut away a thin round from the stem and blossom ends, and slice lengthwise into quarters. Put the spears in a large bowl, and cover with the brine. Weight the cucumbers with a plate, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and set aside for 24 hours. If the bowl won’t fit in your refrigerator, it’s fine to leave it out at room temperature.
  • The next day, pack the cucumber spears into two scalded quart jars, saving the brine. Measure out 2 cups of the brine and reserve. Strain the remaining brine through a fine sieve to capture the aromatics, and divide them between the jars. Tuck a dill head and two cloves of garlic into each jar.
  • Mix the vinegar and the 2 cups reserved brine, and bring to a boil. Pour it over the pickles to cover. Seal the jars, and store in the refrigerator for a week before using. For long-term shelf storage, leave 1/2 inch headspace when filling the jars, then seal. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes, or in a hot-water bath, between 180 and 185ºF, for 30 minutes.

Instead of spears, you could slice your cucumbers into round coins, lengthwise “slabs,” or bias-cut ovals. Make the slices 3⁄8 inch thick and soak them in the brine for 12 hours instead of 24.

Tip

Excerpted from SAVING THE SEASON by Kevin West. Copyright © 2013 by Kevin West. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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