Dill pickles

home-made dill picklesOkay, dill pickles are not exactly a staple food but these are great with Buzz Burgers (today I simplified the burgers by just using organic minced beef, and small amounts of finely chopped onions, garlic, dried herbs, Worcester and Tabasco sauce. They went down a treat.)

I love pickles. I spend so much time with Mrs Elswood I’m surprised my wife isn’t jealous. And as we had a HUGE glut of cucumbers on our allotment this year, I decided to try to make my own.

The web is awash with grandmothers’ pickle recipes, but none seemed quite right. One even demanded that the cucumbers be placed in a bath tub of ice prior to picking to ensure they remain crisp. Well, sod that, life’s too short. So I adapted a recipe from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection, adding dill and using some white malt vinegar.


  • Glut of large cucumbers from your allotment
  • large onions
  • lots of salt, kosher salt if you can find it (it has no anti-caking agents and stops the juice going cloudy)
  • a pint (570ml) or two of vinegar – I used a 50/50 mix of white wine vinegar and clear distilled malt vinegar
  • a pound (450g) or two of soft brown sugar
  • few tablespoons of mustard seeds
  • few teaspoons of crushed cloves & turmeric
  • sprigs of fresh dill
  • lots of large jars with lids, steralised in the oven

Slice the cucumbers thinly; chuck out any really bitter cukes. You can cut them in circles or make large spears, but I found it hard getting hot cucumbers neatly packed in jars so my long neatly-cut spears ended up in a mess; Mrs Elswood would have been ashamed of me. Make layers of cucumber and onion on a plate, salting each layer and press the top down with something heavy. Leave for a couple of hours and pour off as much of the juice as you can.

Put the vinegar, sugar and mustard seeds in a big pan, bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Put the cucumbers in and boil for 1 minute only (I failed here and boiled mine longer with no ill-effects). Put the cucumbers in jars, add a sprig or two of dill and cover with the liquor. Seal the jars, go and sit on a beach in Cornwall for a month, and when you get back they will be ready. And sweet. And delicious.

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