Dill pickle is cucumber pickled in a brine, vinegar, or other solution flavored with dill. It has a spicy variety, aptly called spicy dill pickles, for those who enjoy eating spicy food.
It is normal for people to call dill pickles just pickle or pickles, especially in the US and Canada, without the need to emphasize which pickled food it is exactly (since you can actually pickle a lot of fruits and vegetables). The British call it gherkin, same as in Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. You can make pickled cucumber without dill, but it is not as delicious or tasty as dill pickles.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an annual herb in the celery family Apiaceae. Its leaves and seeds are used as a herb or spice for flavoring food. The main purpose of using dill in pickled cucumber is to improve the flavor. Dill pickles is a low-calorie food. It also has vitamin K.
Cucumber is a widely-cultivated creeping vine plant in the Cucurbitaceae gourd family. Its cucumiform fruits – culinarily used as a vegetable – are used in making dill pickles. Cucumbers are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and antioxidants. It helps in weight loss. It also helps lower blood sugar levels.
Both cucumber and dill are grown in Texas.
Spicy Dill Pickle Trivia
- A 2021 book entitled The Spicy Plant-Based Cookbook describes spicy dill pickles as “a hotter take on the classic American dill pickle.”
- If you have recipe books at home and you have Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Pickling Recipes for the Modern Kitchen: A Cookbook by Jessie Knadler and Kelly Greary, you can read more about spicy dill pickles here.
- If there’s a spicy dill pickle, a sweet and spicy dill pickle is always not far behind that’s for sure! It is mentioned in the book Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.
Spicy Dill Pickle Buying Guide
You can buy spicy dill pickles in stores and online. You can also buy them from small, local businesses that make homemade spicy dill pickles. Make sure the seal of the lid is intact. Check for the expiration date or best before date. Spicy dill pickle glass jars are usually transparent and you can see the contents inside, and it wouldn’t hurt if you inspect the contents based on what you can see without removing the lid (since this is tampering with a sealed product and when you do this, the item is good as sold and you have to pay for it).
Spicy dill pickles are available all year long, so unless you need a lot of spicy dill pickles for something specific (giving them to visiting friends or relatives, preparing food for catering, etc.), it is better to buy enough to last you until the next grocery day. This way, you don’t have a lot of spicy dill pickle jars taking up space in your pantry or cupboard.
Be careful when buying spicy dill pickles. Read the label for ingredients and if possible, choose the one with the least sodium. Food experts believe that dill pickles and spicy dill pickles are high in sodium. A healthy alternative is to make your own, allowing you to control the sodium content.
Spicy Dill Pickle Production & Farming in Texas
Texans love spicy dill pickles, which explains why there are many Texas-based spicy dill pickle businesses.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Commercial pickling uses preservatives. Below are some of the preservatives that is commonly used in making spicy dill pickles.
- Sodium benzoate is added to improve the shelf life of spicy dill pickle.
- Alum is used to make the texture of the pickled cucumber crispy. This food additive is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
- Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are used to help preserve the pickled cucumbers inside the glass bottle.
- Sodium chloride is used for preservation and to improve the taste of the spicy dill pickles.
- Citric acid is used to boost the acidity or the sour flavor of spicy dill pickles.
Spicy dill pickles are sold in glass bottles. An important part of the packaging is the label, which contains important information for the consumers, including the name of manufacturer, expiration or best-before date, ingredients, nutritional information, etc.
Enjoying Spicy Dill Pickles
Jessie Knadler and Kelly Greary, in the book Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Pickling Recipes for the Modern Kitchen: A Cookbook, recommends trying spicy dill pickles with “a nutty, buttery cheese with a hint of acidity.”
You can eat spicy dill pickles as a side dish or an appetizer. This is common practice in the US. You can also make this an ingredient when making hotdog sandwiches or hamburger sandwiches. You will find dill pickles in meatloaves, potato salads, and chicken salads. You can spread hummus on toasted brown rice bread and top it with spicy dill pickles, fresh tomato slices, and spinach. Some restaurants especially in the southern part of the US serve deep-fried dill pickles coated with breading or batter. You are in luck if you can find deep-fried spicy dill pickles! It can also be added to soup, similar to how they do it in Russia and Ukraine when preparing the traditional soup they call rassolnik. In southern England, they eat gherkins (their version of dill pickle) along with fish and chips.
Some people take a cucumber spear from the jar and munch on it. Others slice or chop it into smaller pieces to make pickle relish. You can buy dill pickles on a stick, known in places like Japan as “stick pickle” (ippon-tsuke).
When you eat spicy dill pickles, you help improve your digestive system because dill pickles is a probiotic food.
Whether it is store-bought spicy dill pickles or home-made spicy dill pickles, storage is the same: refrigerate it.
Linda Ziedrich, in the book entitled Joy of Pickling, wrote about spicy crick pickles – this is similar with spicy dill pickles, but crock pickles are usually made and stored in a crock pot unlike the usual practice of canning pickles in glass jars. Ziedrich likes how “the leaves keep the cucumbers firm and crunchy, and the mixed pickling spice renders them indefinably flavorful. I use a minimal amount of dill, but don’t hesitate to use a lot if you like your pickles really dilly.”
Canning is a way to store and preserve spicy dill pickles. For those who do not have the items or the know-how to can spicy dill pickles, you have the option of making your very own home-made refrigerator spicy dill pickles so that you have spicy dill pickles stored in the fridge for that unexpected craving. This is convenient and cheaper too, especially if you have cucumber in your garden.
So make spicy dill pickles at home. It is easy. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to prepare and 15 to 20 minutes to cook.
Combine water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Let the mixture cool completely before putting cucumber spears, garlic cloves, and fresh dill in a glass or jar with a lid. What to add to your usual dill pickle recipe to make it spicy? Your choice of source of spice. It can be one or a combination of Thai red peppers, habanero, red pepper flakes, red chiles / chilis, or anything that can put some heat on your dill pickles. Fill the glass jar with the mixture and then seal the container with a lid before refrigerating the jar.
For best flavor and taste, give it 3 days or more inside the refrigerator before you eat it.
The cucumber in spicy dill pickles can provide about 4 percent of your daily potassium needs, 3 percent of your daily fiber needs, and 4 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. It will also provide you small amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, manganese and vitamin A.
Cucumbers contain two phytonutrient compounds associated with anti-cancer benefits: lignans and cucurbitacins. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have been paying special attention to cucurbitacins, hoping to use them in new cancer drugs.
Dill provides calcium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. 100 grams of dry dill leaves have water (7g), protein (20g), fat (4g), carbohydrates (44g), fiber (12g), and ascorbic acid (60 mg). The energy value is approximately 1060 kJ/100 g, while 100 grams of dry dill fruits contain water (8g), protein (16g), fat (14g), carbohydrates (34g), and fiber. The energy value is 1275 kJ/100 g.
- Calcium: 208mg
- Iron: 6.59mg
- Sodium: 61mg
- Potassium: 738mg
Dill is antiseptic. It is also used to alleviate stomach problems and swollen joints. Dill is useful for those suffering from insomnia, diarrhea, or menstrual disorder. It is also used for dysentery. Eating dill is good for your bone health. This plant, when consumed regularly, also helps fight cancer.
Peppers used in making spicy dill pickles offer a lot of nutritional benefits. Bell peppers, poblano peppers or chile/chili peppers, and jalapeno peppers have high levels of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K1, vitamin B6, and vitamin C and it also acts as an antioxidant. It helps in boosting immunity and repairing cells. It also promotes bone health, healthy muscles and nerves, weight loss and helps reduce the development (or pain management) of gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Bell peppers also help in preventing cancer too.