Friday, December 9, 2011

The Great Pickle Challenge

I have a penchant for pickling pints of peppers…and beets...and eggs...and garlic...and beans...and carrots...and…ad infinitum. But apparently, the one thing I haven’t made is plain old pickles. The cucumber variety, dill, kosher, bread and butter, none of it. I guess it’s my need to hit the ground running with everything I do; quite possibly the desire to avoid the mundane like the plague. But there is something to be said for old standbys. The classics became just that for a reason. People like them! 

So upon the request of those nearest and dearest, I decided to try my hand at plain old simple pickles.

Now, of course, I couldn’t just grab a pack of pickling mix from the store, mix it with vinegar and be done…Not me! I made 4 variations on a typical pickle and hope to hone my skill to make the best pickle around.  

I mixed my own pickling spices, including some foraged bay leaf, hit some with the simple dill and another with a chili pepper because some like it hot (namely, me!). And since I was on such a pickling kick, and I happened to have had some cranberries left over from infusing a lovely (though not my best effort at adapting) cranberry Vodka, I pickled those too! Check out Food in Jars blog and the recipe on Serious Eats.

Quick note to those that are completely gluten free, White vinegar is generally made from “grains” which is likely to be wheat. To be on the safe side, maybe try a different one, rice, or wine, or i don’t know what, be creative. I like cider vinegar best anyway, so it’s not really an issue for me.

This isn’t standard format because I wouldn’t know where to start, but this is my best description:

My four pickles


4 pint jars and lids, cleaned/sterilized if canning
½ onion
8 garlic cloves
12 kirby, or other pickling, cucumbers, cleaned
2 teaspoons pickling spice (purchased or see below)
2 teaspoons dried dill
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons pickling (or fine sea) salt
2 cups vinegar (1 cup of each if trying what i did)
2 cups of water

I used 2 recipes in 4 jars with 2 vinegars = 4 different pints of pickles
(plus the ½ pint of leftovers with chili)

For 4 jars I sliced ½ an onion and 8 garlic cloves. This was split evenly between the jars.

For 2 of the jars I put about a teaspoon of dill atop the garlic and onion in each.

In the other two I put the same amount of home made pickling spice. 

I made this a few months ago in an unlabeled jar but I believe that was made of equal parts –
  •   whole cloves
  •   black pepper corns
  •   whole allspice
  •   whole cardamom
  •   whole black pepper
  •   crushed cinnamon sticks
  •   coriander seeds
  •   a few bay leaves
*to this mix you could add dill and or dried hot pepper. I opted to save that option for the day of pickling, depending on what was being pickled and who would be eating it.

To each of these jars I added a pinch of dill as well, and to the small jar, also a pepper. 

I figured on 2.5-3 Kirby cukes per pint. I sliced them into wedges, some quartered, some more, depending on the size. I squeezed them into the pints, tightly, but not crushing them.
If canning, bring a canner or pot of water to boil now, high enough to cover the jars.

In a small pot I brought to a boil 1 cup of water and one cup of cider vinegar, with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt. If you choose to can these, you cannot mess with the vinegar to water ratio. That is why I added the sugar, as to not have incredibly bitter pickles.

Remove from heat and pour over 1 jar of dill and one jar of spiced cucumbers. cover and process for 10 minutes. Look into water bath canning here or ask me before you try it.

Repeat this process with the other vinegar, salt and sugar. Pour over the other two jars and process if desired.

I simply covered, cooled and refrigerated mine as I knew they would be gone too quickly to go to the trouble of canning them.

This extra I was speaking of, I sliced the leftover cuke, a clove of garlic and a bit of onion and put it in a ½ pint. I used the pickling spice with dill And chili and covered with the cider vinegar and water mixture.

However you make these, it’s simple and tasty. I know which one I like the best, but I’ll wait the recommended day or two to get a consensus.

Happy pickling!

1 comment:

  1. So, my boss has become a fanatic for my pickles, buying them up faster than I can make them. I received a 12am text for them one night.

    BTW - The cider vinegar + Spice Mix + Chile pickles were the hands down favorite

    I knew they would be :)

    Onto fermented pickles...