Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pickles, take two.

The cucumbers have begun to take over in my tiny garden. I had plans to plant several things this year, but in the end I managed to get in the ground 3 tomato plants (that were left over from my mom, I don't even know what kind they are), 1 cantelope plant lived, 3 brussel sprouts, 2 pepper plants, 6 zucchini, 4 squash and 12 cucumbers. Yep 12! Do you remember when I made pickles last year? They were yucky! I used cukes that were too big and that had been in the fridge for too long. I didn't realize that I needed to use them when they were small and the day they were picked. This year I knew better. 

A few days ago my trip to the garden resulted in a decent sized pile of pretty little cucumbers that were just begging to be dumped in a brine. I used the recipe from this book with a few chages. It calls for 6 pounds of cukes and I only had (what I'm guessing was about) 3 pounds. So rather than water bath canning them, I made them according to the recipe and just stuck them in the fridge. Pickles will stay in the fridge for 6 months or better. I got 2 quarts and 1 pint out of the whole thing and that is totally useable in this house within 6 months.

 I have read that adding grape leaves to your cucumber pickles will help keep them stay crisp and maintain their color and that's really the reason I didn't want to water bath them. I couldn't get my hands on grape leaves in time and really didn't want more jars of mushy pickles to deal with.
There are loads of recipes for Dill Pickles out there and I'm not allowed to share the recipe from this book without permission. The process is pretty basic though. You let them sit in a brine of salty water for at least 8 hours. (Mine got almost 2 days in the fridge because life got in the way.)  Then you drain them and pack them in sterilized jars with pickling salt, dill, garlic and some other goodeis. Lastly you pour over a brine of vinegar, salt and water. They can then be water bath canned for shelf storage or like mine, stuck in the fridge.  The hardest part is the waiting. They need at least a week to really get a good flavor. 

Please use a recipe when you are canning. It is very important that the ratios are right to ensure that your food is safe.

 Do you have a great pickle recipe you want to share?

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