Pickles. Tart, sour, garlicky, sweet, and spicy are all flavors that I enjoy when eating pickles. I really love almost any type of pickle that is passed my way. The exception is a pickle swimming in neon yellow-green juice and a soggy pickle. No thank you, not worth it, and what makes the juice in those pickles that color, anyway???
David has taken my love of pickles as somewhat of a challenge, and it works out for both of us; he plays mad scientist in the kitchen, trying recipes, making up his own versions, and canning jars and jars of pickles, while I get to be the taste-tester. Last year, for his first pickle venture, David decided to read up on how to make pickles. For his first attempt, he decided to go all out and forgo following any actual recipe. Instead, he concocted his own dill pickle recipe. Half of the batch was pickled with cider vinegar, and the other half was pickled with white vinegar. At first, I hated the cider vinegar pickles, but as time passed and the pickles marinted in their jars, my opinion of them changed. I began to prefer the cider vinegar pickles over the white vinegar versions...But honestly? I didn't LOVE either version. They were way too sour (one of our friends refers to these pickles as "a punch in the mouth".) However, as I stated in the first paragraph, I'm not too picky when it comes to pickles, and I am still eating jars of David's first attempt at pickle-making!
As cucumber season rounded the corner this year, I made a request that David actually follow a recipe. No screwing around, no "tweaking", just straight recipe-following. The results were mixed. David tried five different types of pickles: Hungarian Sour Pickles (which were left to ferment in red wine vinegar, in their jars, in a sunny window for 5 days, prior to sealing and sticking in the fridge), Half-Sours (which open-fermented for 2 weeks in our basement before being canned...our basement still stinks!), Full Sours (another open-fermentation process, but this one lasted 3-4 weeks. These ended up being way too garlicky, and David just threw them out), Quick Dills (these were processed and left to "pickle" in their jars), and my personal favorite of the season, Bread and Butters (also processed to marinate in the jars).
I'm including two of the above five recipes in this post, the Quick Dills and the Bread and Butter pickles. They are, by far, the best of the bunch (and they won't stink up your house). I'm still hunting for the perfect garlic pickle recipe, as they are my all-time favorite pickles. Any ideas?
Note: Both of these recipes are from Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. Also, Soaking the cucumbers first in an ice bath firms them up and helps to keep them crispy once they are in their pickled state.
Recipe: Really Quick Dill Pickles
makes 3 quarts
Soak the cucumbers in an ice water bath for a minimum of 1 hour. In each quart jar place 8 peppercorns, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 dried hot peppers and 2 dill heads, along with tightly packed cucumbers. You can use either whole cucumbers, horizontally halved cucumbers, or any other combination that you'd like. Mix the vinegar, water and pickling salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid mixture over the cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Close the jars and process the quarts for 15 min in boiling water. Store the pickles for 1 month in the cellar before opening; once open, refrigerate.
- 4 lbs small/medium pickling cucumbers
- 24 whole black peppercorns
- 1 garlic head, cloves separated, peeled and chopped
- 6 small dried hot peppers
- 6 dill heads with sprigs
- 2 3/4 cups cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup pickling salt
If you like them extra-dilly you can add a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh or dried dill sprigs.
Recipe: Bread-and-Butters My Way
makes 4 pints
Soak the cucumbers in an ice water bath for a minimum of 1 hour. Slice the cucumbers in 1/4 in thick slices vertically or to your taste. Toss with the salt and ice cubes and let sit for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature. Rinse and drain well. Pack into pint jars and add the mustard seed, celery seed, and hot pepper flakes. In a saucepan bring the vinegar, water, sugar and turmeric to a boil. Poor the hot liquid into the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Close the jars and process the quarts for 10 min in boiling water. Store the pickles for 3 weeks in the cellar before opening; once open, refrigerate.
- about 3 1/2 pounds of medium pickling cucumbers
- 1/4 cup pickling salt
- 4 teaspoons whole yellow mustard seed or 2 teaspoons of ground yellow mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon whole celery seed or 1/2 teaspoon of ground celery seed
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric