A few weeks ago, we produced 35 jars of pickles, 5 jars of pickle relish and three huge jars of fermenting pickles (these did not make it, they got moldy and went into our compost). I also made “salted” pickles or refrigerator pickles and they turned out delicious! We are enjoying them with salads or as is.
Needless to say, I am pickled out. We bought two huge boxes of cucumbers from Carpenito Brothers (our local farm stand) and got a 10lb batch from our CSA’s pickling share. We use the USDA suggested picking recipe and water bath.
Here is a nice site for lots of pickling/fermenting information.
Recipe we use:
The recipe for the “salted” pickles:
Wash the cucumbers well and do not cut them. In a large jar, put in as many cucumbers as tightly as you can. For this type of pickle, it is essential that the uptake of salt is even and slow thorough the whole cucumber. If this happens too fast, the pickle might loose it’s crunch. In a sauce pan, for every 1 liter (4 cups) of water, add 3 tablespoons of salt, add dill seeds, garlic, all spice berries, mustard seeds, and bring heat it enough to dissolve the salt. Cool the brine to room temperature and pour over the pickles and stick the jar in the fridge. I usually make a huge jar which requires about 3 cups of brine. They should be ready to eat in 2-3 days.
Some important things to keep in mind:
- Choose nice firm straight cucumbers, if they are soft beforehand, your pickles will be mushy (and nobody likes mushy pickles!) It’s also nice if they are all roughly the same size.
- Wash them well! I let them soak in my (clean) sink for a little bit and scrub the dirt off with my hands.
- Do not refrigerate your cucumbers!
- Garlic and lots of it.
- When in doubt, add more dill.
- Add a grape leaf or two to every jar, it make the pickles more crunchy and enhances the flavor.
- Mustard seeds are your pickling friends.
- Add peppers and onions (small, whole) to the pickles, you won’t be sorry.
- You can make whole, slices or spears.
- Add spice of your liking or jalapenos if you like spicy.
- Sterilize your jars and lids.
- For fermenting pickles, use spring or good quality filtered water only. Tap water is treated with this junk – http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/mdbp/chloramines_index.cfm in most municipalities. This is probably not necessary if you are on a well.
- Invest the two hours into this activity-you won’t be sorry! Homemade pickles are delicious, make excellent Christmas gifts or host gifts and you are eating more sustainable (chemical) free food.
Here are some pictures of our pickling adventure!
Next year we plan to give fermenting pickles another try!
Thanks for reading!