Try This at Home: How to Make Dill Pickles

Amy Thielen, host of Heartland Table, shares an old-fashioned family recipe. 
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Photo By: Ingalls ©Ingallsphoto

Photo By: Ingalls ©Ingallsphoto

Photo By: Ingalls ©Ingallsphoto

Photo By: Ingalls ©Ingallsphoto

Photo By: Ingalls ©INGALLSPHOTO

Photo By: Ingalls ©INGALLSPHOTO

Photo By: Ingalls ©Ingallsphoto

Photo By: Ingalls ©Ingallsphoto

Photo By: Ingalls ©Ingallsphoto

Photo By: Ingalls ©Ingallsphoto

Fermented Dill Pickles

This recipe does not call for vinegar like most pickle recipes. The cucumbers ferment in brine. (They're pictured here just after they were jarred.)

Photography by the Ingalls

Get the Recipe: Fermented Dill Pickles

"I grew up eating these sour pickles. Grandma and Aunt Helen competed to see who made them best," says Amy.

Sterilize the jars: Wash the jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Place a canning rack or folded kitchen towel in the bottom of a stockpot and fill halfway with water. Add the jars, making sure they are submerged. Bring to a boil and boil 10 minutes. Remove with a jar lifter or tongs and place on a clean towel. Put the lids and bands in a saucepan of simmering water until ready to use.

Make the brine: Combine 13 cups water with the pickling salt in a large pot and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the salt. Set aside.

Fill the jars: In the bottom of each sterilized jar, add a layer of cabbage leaves, 1 garlic clove, 1 grape leaf, 2 chiles and a tuft of crown dill. 

Pack the jar with cucumbers, standing them upright and getting in as many as you can.

Top each jar with another garlic clove, grape leaf, chile and tuft of crown dill.

Add the brine: Ladle the hot brine into each jar (use a funnel if you have one), leaving 1/8 inch headspace. You may not need all of the brine.

Close the jars: Wipe the jar rims with a cloth dipped in boiling water. Screw the sterilized lids on tight — as tight as you possibly can.

Ferment the pickles: Once the jars cool, transfer them to a warm place (75 degrees F or so) and let the pickles ferment 1 week. This is the warm jump-start period; the brine should get cloudy and the lid tops should become tight with pressure. Then transfer the jars to a cool, dark place and wait at least 6 weeks and up to 6 months before eating.

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