Monday, July 30, 2007

Pickles, pickles everywhere

In the past 3 weeks, I have made 19 quarts of pickles. My neighbor had an overflow of cucumbers and kept leaving bags at my front door. (I had given him permission so it was ok.) I wanted to make pickles. And man I made pickles. They’re spicy and garlicky. I don’t like sweet pickles, although sugar is a required ingredient in any pickle recipe. I made spears and slices and 2 jars of small, whole pickles. I had fun.
I don’t have a set recipe as of yet. I’ve made 3 different brines but the basic ingredients are the same.

Mason jars
Vinegar- I used cider for most of it and a combo of white and cider for one time. Use any kind you like.
2 T sugar
Red pepper flakes*
Bell peppers, red and green
Garlic powder*
Onion powder*
Hot sauce*
Garlic cloves- Use however many you want.
Cucumbers- sliced, speared, or whole if small enough.

Put water and vinegar in a pot, a 3-2 vinegar/water ratio works best. Add seasoning. Use whatever you like to taste. This is just what I used. Sugar is a must though, to help the cucumbers stay together. Bring brine to a boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
While the brine is cooling, sterilize the mason jars by boiling just the jars for 10 minutes. Place dill, whole garlic cloves, onion slices or pearl onions, diced jalepenos, thyme, whatever other flavoring you like, in the bottom of the jar. Place cucumbers in jar, leaving at least ½ inch at the top. Pour the brine in, along with any other pieces like the bell peppers or garlic. Leave room at the top. Repeat for each jar. 8 cups of liquid makes about 4-5 quarts.
Seal the jars by placing the lids on them, and tighten but not all the way. Place in about 3-4 inches of boiling water, about halfway up the jar, and cover. You will hear a pop and the jar is sealed.
You can also use a pressure cooker to do this but as I don’t have one, this also works.
I made 4 quarts of salsa this weekend too. I need to make lots of sauce and more salsa next weekend. All this fresh, fun produce!* And it’s so easy to do!

*Sadly, I’ve had to buy tomatoes. All the rain we’ve had is not making our tomatoes do well- they’re just not getting enough sun. Plus we now have leaf-footed bugs which suck all the sweet goodness out of the ‘maters and prevent them from growing really big. It’s been hard to deal with because it’s always freakin’ raining and it just washes away anything you try to do. I’m using a soap and water spray to combat them but I don’t know if I can really save them. We’ll see. We did just get some baby plants so that might save the day.


MLE said...

Dan makes amazingly good pickles, though he has to buy the cukes and dill at the farmer's market. But they are always SOOOO GOOD.

We've had several tomatoes already off our July 4 plant. The romas are looking good (though not getting red yet) and the heirloom green stripey one is still growing its fruit - not ripe yet. Our crop will probably mostly be ready in August and September, which is when Dan will probably make a ton of pasta sauce and salsa, most ingredients (including herbs) from our garden. I can't wait.

Cilicious said...

There is something so satisfying about making pickles. And giving them away is fun, too.
Yank, I feel your tomato pain.
There was one rainy June in Colorado when I had to replace my drowned tomato plants. That might have been the year I began growing them in pots.
I've already made Roma tomato sauce, it's a whole different climate here.
People are supposedly ripping out their summer gardens now and getting ready for fall. But my tomatoes are still going strong; I won't be done with them until they are done with me.

Yank In Texas said...

Our tomatoes are no gone. They were just too far gone. The boy has some new seedlings so it should be ok. But sigh. It sucks. They were infested with those leaf-footed bugs and rotten from all the rain. It was gross. AH well. We'll see. I can always buy at the farmers market.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Hey, thanks for the tip on how to do the canning itself, that's awesome. I'm going to look into canning some pickles or something just for experimentation. Can you reccomend how to can jalapenos? I'd love to give my parents some really spicy ones from Cali.