If you haven’t tasted Russian or Ukrainian dill pickles, then you are in for a treat. They are the best I have ever eaten; and here in ex-Soviet country, they are so popular they are practically a food group–about as popular as chocolate.
In fact, when the pickles are gone, families fight over who gets to drink the brine and eat the garlic in the bottom. It is poured into a tall glass and the winner swallows every last savory drop…
Wayne and I have had one at least everyday since arriving. Here is a tried and true recipe from a Ukrainian friend.
5 lb. small cucumbers
1/2 head garlic (more if you want)
3 sprigs fresh dill weed with heads
4 grape leaves or cherry leaves or 1/4 tsp. alum
1 cup coarse salt or kosher salt
3 to 4 qt. water
1 large crock or a gallon glass jar
Soak (but do not scrub) cucumbers in very cold water over night. Scald a clean glass jar or large crock with boiling water. Place a grape or cherry leaf at the bottom and arrange cucumbers vertically in layers, inserting garlic cloves and dill weed here and there, not packing too tightly.
Add salt to boiling water and stir. Pour brine over cucumbers and add peppercorns. (If not using leaves, add alum for added crispness). Cover with leaves and a plate and place in a cool, dark place to ferment.
After 4 to 5 days, the cucumbers will be semi-cured; some prefer them that way. After a few more days, fully cured pickles will become a lighter green. Store in fridge.
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