Sunday, August 05, 2012
In A Pickle
For a little bit of a change of pace I thought I'd post a couple of new recipes I tried out this year. I love pickled food and had been wanting to try refrigerator and fermented pickles for some time now. I found 2 great recipes and they are super-duper easy. As you can probably tell, the photo above is the refrigerator pickles. They came out very tasty (zesty) and crunchy! So, I used a 1 1/2 quart jar for mine and the amounts I'm going to give you are sized for that, so adjust accordingly to how much you want to make. The brine is 2 cups of water, 1 3/4 cups white vinegar and 1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt. Heat this just enough to dissolve the salt. Wash your cukes and make sure to clean off the blossom end well. I put about 3-4 heads of dill, several very small onions, a few cloves of garlic, about 1 teaspoon of mustard seed and about 4 pods of cayenne pepper in the jar and pack the cukes so that the jar was about filled to the shoulder. Personally, I think cukes about 4 inches and smaller are the best for this type pickle. Pour the brine over the cukes until they are all covered. Just put a lid on (no need for hot water bath) and place in the refrigerator. Wait at least 3 weeks and then enjoy! After I ate about half of the pickles I added more fresh cukes to the jar. It's easy to tell the difference between the newly added so you can pick out the older ones until the others season.
Traditionally fermented pickles are just as easy although they have a very different flavor. I have a 2 gallon crock that I use for making kraut and pickles. I think any stoneware or glass crock would work. For these I used about 3-4 lbs of fresh cukes, washed well. I think slightly larger cukes are better for fermenting too; about 4 inches or larger. I had some smaller ones in there and they got kinda mushy. So, place a small handful of clean grape leaves in the bottom of the crock, which has also been cleaned well. This helps keep the pickles crisp but if you don't have any I think the recipe would still be okay. I used grape leaves and these didn't come out super crisp anyway. They are still crunchy like though. Put your cukes along with 3-4 heads of dill (or same approximate amount of dill seed), 5-6 cloves of garlic and 3/8 cup of pickling salt or sea salt in the crock and then enough filtered spring water to cover the cukes by about an inch. You must not use chlorinated water. Weigh the cukes under the brine with a dish or jar and cover with a clean cloth to keep out dust and such. Place the crock in a cool, dark spot. I started checking on them after about 2 weeks. There will be some mold around the edges. Don't freak. Just scoop it out and wipe your weight off and the sides of the crock if needed. Check them every day at this point and skim off the mold. As long as the pickles stay submerged they will be fine. Taste them after about 2-3 weeks and when they get to the point you want (depends on the person) just transfer them to a jar in the fridge. This stops the fermenting process but keeps the good buggies alive and well, which is great for your tummy. Oh, and the brine will become cloudy so don't freak about that either; it's normal. These smell absolutely delicious to me while they are fermenting. They taste good too but are a more traditional dill flavor rather than a kosher dill, in my opinion. They may be a little salty after just 2 weeks but this diminishes as they ferment more.
Edit: After refrigerating the fermented pickles they were just as crunchy and crisp as the others. YUM-OOO!!