Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pickles!

This was the first year I didn't plant cucumbers in my garden, but I was lucky enough to have a friend with too many, so when I mentioned I'd be happy to take them off her hands she was more than willing and gave me a bag full! And what do you do with a bag full of cucumbers? Pickles of course!


There are a lot of pickling recipes out there, as well as a lot of different types of pickles, some use prepared pickling spice, some do not.  I made both dill and bread and butter, using my own pickling blend.


A lot of sites mention soaking the cucumbers in a salt solution, I did not do that. I am still not 100% sure why you would need to do that. If you know please feel free to share. I also learned if you add a little Alum to the dill brine it will keep the pickles crisp. I, however, didn't know this trick before I made my dill batch.


Dill Pickles

This will make enough for about 4 pint jars, I almost tripled the brine in order to use all the pickles. Ending in about 8 pints worth.

10-15 pickling cucumbers* (about 4-5" in length)

For the brine:

2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups vinegar
3 tbsp raw cane sugar
3 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 tbsp whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves
Fresh dill (I used a few sprigs per jar)

Slice the cucumbers in about 1/4" rounds (you can also cut into spears) Fill the sterilized jars with the cucumbers, and a few sprigs of dill. Set aside. Add all the brine ingredients in to a large pot, bring to a simmer. Once all the salt is dissolved, pour the hot liquid into the jars. (I try to make sure at least one garlic clove makes it into each jar.)


Add ins: I added a sliced jalapeƱo to a couple jars, you could also add crushed red pepper, or other peppers or more garlic.

Bread and Butter Pickles
(Recipe adapted from The American Woman's Cook Book, 1966)

8 medium cucumbers*
1 large onion**
1/2 cup salt
2 cup sugar
3 tsp mustard seed
3 tsp celery seed
1 tsp curry powder
2 cups vinegar, white
1 cup water

Slice the cucumbers and onions, lay the onions out on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. (This will drain some of the liquid from the onion.)


In a large sauce pan, add the remaining ingredients bring to a simmer. Once all the sugar and salt is dissolved, add the onions and cucumbers. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Pack into sterilized jars.



*The original recipe called for about 12 medium cucumbers, this will vary depending on the size of your cucumbers.
**The original recipe called for 5 medium onions, that just seemed like a lot so I reduced the amount.


Processing the Jars

This will be the same for both types of pickles. To sterilize the jars and lids, boil in a large pot of water. I will usually have the jars boiling while I slice and prepare all the ingredients. That way when I pack the jars they are still hot. Once you fill the jars, you want about a 1/2 inch of head space. (The amount of space between the very top of the jar to the liquid.) Place the lids on the jars, don't screw them on real tight, just enough so no extra liquid will be able to get in. Place the jars into boiling water, the water should just cover the jars. Process or boil for about 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and set aside to cool, as the jars cool you will start hearing popping which is what happens when the jars seal. Gentle press the center of the lids, if you are still able to press it down, it didn't seal. You can try processing them again, as long as they didn't cool down too much, or just place in the refrigerator. Processed pickles should last about a year in a cool dark place. Refrigerate after you open them.

For the dill pickles, if you didn't want to process the jars you could store in the refrigerator for about 6 months, just wait at least 24 hours before enjoying them.