Sunday, June 20, 2010
In a pickle!
Everything in my container garden is starting to take off. I've finally got tomatoes coming in. I've been using all of my herbs like crazy. There have been radishes and spinach and I even got my first zucchini. Then, there is the matter of my deck-eating cucumber plant. The same thing happened last year. If I never grow anything else in my life, I'm 99.9% sure I will always be able to grow cucumbers. This plant has a mind of it's own. I can usually harvest at least one cucumber a day. This will last for at least another month. I love cucumbers. Home-grown ones are like no other. But lately I've had so many that I haven't been able to use them before they go bad.
One obvious solution to this issue is to make pickles. However, I'm extremely picky about my pickles. I like them cold cured, never cooked. I prefer sour or savory over sweet flavored. I like thick cut round, whole, or spears. I'd rather they not be crinkle-cut or salad cubes. I'm not a big fan of the sandwich slices either. See? Picky about pickles. So I did a little research to find a good refrigerator pickle recipe that involves absolutely no cooking. I found one! Of course, I tweaked it to my preferences, but it was a great base recipe to start with. It goes something like this:
2 cups cold water
1/3 cup vinegar*
1 Tbsp Kosher or sea salt
2 tsp sugar
5 whole peppercorns
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 medium cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch rounds or 3 inch long spears
1 large Mason jar with lid OR a sturdy zip-top bag
*The recipe calls for white wine vinegar. I used cider vinegar, personally. This is where personal preference comes into play. However, balsamic vinegar is not recommended.
Mix all ingredients except cucumbers until the salt and sugar are dissolved to create a quick brine. Place the cucumber pieces in the bag or jar, then add the brine. Place the new pickles in the refrigerator to cure. If you use a zip-top bag, you will need to turn the pickles twice a day. If you use a Mason jar, invert the jar a few times, once a day. These "light pickles" will take about 2 days to cure.
Chef's note: I also chose to add some chopped dill to my brine. For a spicy flavor, you could add some red pepper flakes. If you like an old-fashioned pickle taste, use a teaspoon or two of traditional pickling spice. These pickles will be lighter in flavor if you follow the above recipe. You can experiment with the amount of vinegar you use if you'd like a stronger or weaker flavor.
I just made my first batch tonight and have to wait a few days before they're ready. I'll let you know how the turn out. And if you try this, please let me know how it worked for you!
Original recipe credit: Instructables.com