Last night, I was invited to a pickling masterclass by Joe McClure, owner and operator of Detroit-based McClures Pickles. My daughter was quite amused: ‘Surely you just need vinegar, sugar and a few spices Mum?’ Well – yes. But watching Joe in action made me realise that sometimes, you meet someone who is just really, really good at it.

Yes, deep fried pickles with fresh coriander is a thing.

Joe – one of’s 30 Under 30 in 2010 – is the master of the pickle. I spent a great evening learning a few tricks of the trade (yes, you can reuse the brine after you’ve finished the pickles; yes, those Mason jars with a separate lid and screw thread are the best ones to use for pickling) and making my own jar, alongside some of New Zealand’s finest, including Peta Mathias, Julie LeClerc and Annabel White.

While Great Grandma Lala’s original pickle recipe is still a closely guarded secret, Joe’s agreed to share this one for Garlic & Dill Pickle – and I guarantee you it’s delicious!

For more McClures Pickles product, visit

Garlic & Dill Pickles

Makes about 6 x 500ml jars


  • • 3 KG small cucumbers (use Kirby or similar variety but not slicing/salad cucumbers)
    • 12 cloves of garlic (peeled, halved or minced)
    • 1-2 bunches of dill
    • 700 ml of water
    • 700 ml of distilled white vinegar (5%)
    • 32 grams of kosher salt


Wash cucumbers, and place in a large deep bowl. If not pickling that day, place them in
the refrigerator. Wash dill and other vegetables thoroughly.

Garlic blanching (blanch before you cut or mince garlic):

Take peeled garlic and place in a small pot with enough vinegar to cover the garlic. Heat to boil. Cook for 90 seconds and remove from heat. Place peeled garlic in a strainer and run cold water over blanched garlic. Set aside.

Place a single jar in a large pot. Fill the pot with water so that the jar is submerged by about 1/2″ above the top of the jar. Remove the test jar and bring water to boil. (This is testing your water line to make sure you have enough water in there to boil the jars later).

In another large pot, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil. Stir the salt to make sure it doesn’t stick.

While pots are getting up to a boil, take your produce and begin to prepare it. Take cucumbers out and cut them to fit your jar. They can be cut into any shape you like or if they are small enough you can leave them whole.

If cucumbers are SPEARED, grab your mason jar and place 1 SPEAR inside the jar. Make sure cucumber stands 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch below the top of the jar. Trim your cucumbers to this size. Place cucumbers back in bowl.

After water boils, submerge mason jars in pot and sterilize for about 90 seconds. Remove jars carefully with jar tongs. If you have a dishwasher you can run a rinse cycle and clean the jars as well. No soap is necessary.

In each jar, place 2 halves of garlic or mince garlic, one small handful of dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar making sure cucumbers are below the “neck-line”. Place 2 piece lids of your Mason jar in boiling water for 90 seconds, then carefully remove and place in a bowl.

Fill jars with hot brine, then cap and seal jars.

Place jars back in boiling water pot. Process sealed jars in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Wait 5-10 days before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 1 year if stored in a cool dry place.