Yesterday’s post revealed pickles that can be eaten in weeks of inception and will peak within months. I make a batch to hold me over to my true love – the long setting dill.
Like all preserving; there is no substitute for fresh. Cucumbers are best for pickling when they have been harvested less than 24 hours. That’s a tall order for most grocery stores – pick your own makes this an almost certain guarantee while the roadside stand may come down to trust.
Clean your ‘cukes like it’s 1999 (that means well). 4-inch is standard length. Be warned of large baskets – picking them in bulk is often cheaper and you get to hand select your pickles.
Secret important tip from a source that would kill me if I shared (and you’ll find it on the Internet): before pickling, cut the blossom end off your cucumbers (this helps the bring penetrate) and surround in a bath of ice water (heavy on the ice, light on the water). Make them as cold as possible before pickling. Think of Siberia. This will help ensure a firm, crispy, pickle.
1. Prep 4 pounds of pickles per above.
2. 4 cups water (distilled or bottled without additives is best)
3. 3 cups vinegar (6% acidity is mandatory – cider vinegar is typical).
Work with one jar at a time and:
4. Add 3-4 dill heads to each jar. Dill is cheap in the fall when you can buy 4 foot tall “trees” of it for a few dollars.
5. 2 Garlic cloves (add more if you are using large jars)
6. 2 Hot peppers (I used dry ones similar to that you’d find in Thai food from Kensington Market – the photo shows two of them).
7. 1 tablespoon pickling salt (again, pickling salt avoids discoloration)
8. 1 teaspoon pickling spices
9. Fill to 1/4 inch, release air bubbles, ensure 1/4 inch headspace remains. Wipe lid and seal.
Repeat steps 4-9 and process in a waterbath for 10 minutes.
These are crisper and take more time to mature. I bottle them in larger jars and enjoy them within 3-4 months. The Holiday (Christmas. Hanukkah, etc) season marks the first opening, usually after long anticipation.
For more info on jarring, pressure cooking, preserving best practices, check out the preserving page above.