I can't help but think of my old German ancestors any time I can pickles. To me canning and pickling is a lost art kept alive by those of us with a deep love and respect for food, wishing to preserve the tradition behind and the connection to the food we eat. However, I'm sure my great grandma never canned my spicy cider dill pickles in her kitchen. These hot peppers would have been as foreign to her as the idea of buying pickles as the store.
I came up with this recipe when my friend was helping me install my new dishwasher. We had to run to the hardware store and a jar of cider pickles on the counter seduced me into making a delicious impulse buy. I don't remember if they were spicy or not, but I do remember they will intoxicatingly delicious! I kept the empty jar on top of my fridge for months, vowing to replicate the secrets contained within its ingredients list with my garden's harvest a few months later. After a few batches, and countless adjustments, I've ended up with a product I am quite happy with. The peppercorn, thyme, and cider combine to give it almost a distinct smoky flavor that is cut through only by the pleasant bite of a chili pepper. I recommend Thai peppers, but any similar pepper will suffice.
This recipe is well suited for canning, but for those who don't can you can certainly just throw the jars into the fridge for storage. However, if you are wanting to get into canning I would recommend purchasing a good canning kit from the Ball company. They are the leading brand in canning supplies.
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Spicy Cider Dill Pickles
- Firm Pickling cucumbers
- 3 cups cider vinegar
- 5 cups water
- 6 tablespoon pickling salt
- 1 head of dill per jar
- 1 branch fresh Thyme per jar
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns per jar
- 2 cloves of garlic per jar
- 1 in chili pepper cut half
- Slice cucumbers into spears or keep whole if desired, I recommend spears
- Boil water, cider vinegar and salt in a saucepan until salt has dissolved.
- Place dill, thyme, peppercorns, garlic and chili pepper in sterilized quart jars.
- Pack cucumber spears vertically in jar tightly together.
- Pour hot brine over the pickles to within 1" of the rim and store in the refrigerator or, if canning, process in a waterbath for 10 minutes and follow all normal canning procedures.
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