Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pickles - quick, easy, and any way you like them

When I make dill pickles I do it the easy way.  This way does require the pickles to be stored in the refrigerator.  But, knowing this, I save 1/2 of one shelf in my fridge for pickles and only pickles. 

Here's the recipe.  Send Boy outside to gather some young grape leaves.  Send Girl outside to cut cucumbers off the vines.  Send Boy outside to cut off more cucumbers!  Gather my old Vlasic pickle jars that hold about 3/4 gallon and are not much larger in diameter than a 1/2 gallon canning jar. 

Have one container with 4 cups water and 1-2 tablespoons pickling or kosher salt.  Have another container with 4 cups vinegar.  I keep the vinegar and water separate.  The reason I do this is because I don't really know how much liquid I will use other than equal amounts of vinegar and water.  If I mix the two together and it's too much then I have to throw it all out.  If it's too much and they are separate then I can pour the vinegar back into its gallon container.  It's not as difficult for me to just get rid of the salt water... or it can be used for a gargle or many other things. 

Put a couple grape leaves on the bottom of the jar.  If you don't have grape leaves then don't worry about it.  It adds a little kick but isn't necessary.  If you have horseradish leaves you can add a young one of those.  Or don't add any leaves!  Put a teaspoon of pickling spice into the bottom of the jar.  Then a pinch of minced garlic (or one clove of garlic if you have it fresh).  Throw in a couple of peppercorns if your pickling spice doesn't have very many.  Then I put in the cucumbers.  I usually slice each cuke into four slivers.  If they are really big they can be sliced into 6.  I put them in the jar.  If I lay the jar on its side I can stuff the cukes in nice and orderly, and get a lot more into the jar.  After I put in a layer of cucumbers I put in another teaspoon of pickling spice and pinch of garlic (or a clove) and some peppercorns (if needed).  Maybe another grape leaf for looks.  Then another layer of cukes.  Top it all off with another teaspoon of pickling spice, pinch of garlic and peppercorns.  I usually add a teaspoon of dill weed or dill seed, or some fresh dill head.  Sometimes I'll put in a dried hot pepper.  Whatever I feel like doing, it doesn't really matter as it all turns out great! 

About the garlic.  A dill pickle without the garlic is called a Dill pickle.  A dill pickle with garlic is called a Kosher Dill pickle.  That's the difference.  There isn't any special prayers or secret ingredients.  Just garlic or not.  I like Kosher Dill.

After your jar is stuffed with whatever you choose to put in it's time to add the liquid.  Now, when I make my pickles I normally use big jars and fill them up.  If you want to mix things up a bit use smaller jars.  Perhaps one jar with garlic, one with hot peppers, one with lots of dill.  Doesn't matter, use ingredients you like.  The way I add the liquid is simple.  I will start by pouring 1 cup of saltwater and then one cup of vinegar.  I'll just look at the jar to see how much needs to go in.  Perhaps the next round of pours may only need 1/4 cup of each.  Just try to make it even of saltwater and vinegar.  If you don't quite get it right, that's OK too!  Really, you won't mess up.

Then I put the lid on and stick it in the refrigerator for at least a week.  I have half a jar left from last summer.  The liquid is cloudy, the pickles are a very dull green.  The new ones I put in today are bright green and the liquid is clear.  It's an amazing difference in color. 

If I needed the refrigerator space these can be boiling water bathed rather than put into the fridge.  Instead, you would take the saltwater and vinegar, mix them together and bring this brine mixture to a boil.  You'd fresh pack the jars the same, although I'd use pints or quarts rather than the large jars.  After pouring on the boiling brine you put the lids on the jars and boiling water bath them for 20 minutes. 

1 comment:

  1. This is perfect timing, I'm about to be overtaken by cucumbers.
    I do like the instructions where you send boy and girl out for the harvesting. My friends boy is laying mulch at my house as I type this, it sure is nice to have help.
    Especially if they will be eating the pickles too!