So every year we plant a vegetable garden. There is nothing in the world better than home grown veggies! This year, we switched focus to installing water barrels and ponds in an attempt to be more efficient & conserve water and we scaled back the veggie garden. Who knew it would be the rainiest season Atlanta's seen in years and we should've been building an ark.
Since cucumbers love the rain, we have cucumbers coming out of our ears (even though we only planted 2 cucumber plants).
So what do I do with all these cucumbers?!?
PICKLES! PICKLES! PICKLES!
Ok, so I did research on pickles for 2 days and oh dear god, there is no end to the different ways to make pickles. Here's some of what I learned:
• The 2 basic methods of making pickles: Canning & Refrigerator pickles. Canning is the traditional method of using sterilized jars, filling them, then boiling the jars in a water bath to kill any bacteria. This is kind of a big process, but they last for a LONG time! Refrigerator pickles are similar, but you don't need to boil the jars in the water bath. However, because the bacteria is not removed, these must be stored in the refrigerator and can only last about 2 months. (I chose the refrigerator pickling method since all I have right now are cucumbers. Hopefully we'll have enough veggies to can a little later on in the season)
• In general, with either method, you want to process them as quickly after picking as possible -- like, within 12 hours quick! (I didn't realize this, and some of my pickles sat for 2 days before using them - oops!)
• There are many theories as to how to make crispy pickles. I chose the ice bath. Letting them soak (whole) for 2-6 hours in an ice bath makes them crispy -- and it totally worked!
• You should cut off the ends. Apparently the enzyme that makes them squishy is in the ends. This isn't a problem for us because I prefer either spears or slices. I'm not a big fan of whole pickles.
• Some say you have to boil all the spices together before adding to the jar, and the some say you add the spices to the jar with the pickles and add the hot liquid. I tried both methods and both seemed to work fine.
WHAT I DID:
I prefer Bread & Butter pickles, while Jack is a dill man. I started with these 2 basic recipes from Alton Brown (love him!) & The Kitchn.
So I started with 6 cucumbers (some were picked that day, some the day before, and some 2 days before).
And I let them sit in an ice bath and think about what they did for about 6 hours...
Meanwhile I ran my jars, lids & rings through the dishwasher.
Then I started packing the jars. I ended up with 4 regular sized mason jars, & 1 tall one that I used for the spears.
Here they are all packed & ready to go. 3 on the left are spicy garlic dill, and the 2 on the right are spicy garlic bread & butter (notice a theme?).
I love garlic...and I love vidalia onions...so I couldn't resist adding some of each to all the jars. Try to layer everything throughout the jar so all the flavors mix together. Also try to cram as much into the jar as possible (without damaging the cucumbers, of course).
When you add the liquid, fill it to the bottom most ridge at the top of the jar. You want about an inch of space between the liquid & the lid. As the jars cool, you'll hear the tops pop down and the jars seal. Once they're room temperature, stick them in the fridge.
Here they are 3 days later. WAIT AT LEAST 3 DAYS!!
I know, I know.... you're saying "BUT I WANT PICKLES NOW!" I get it. But, no. Wait.
AB's Bread & Butter Pickles: (video here)
For Pickling Liquid:
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp pickling spice
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp turmeric
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
3 pickles (sliced or speared)
1/2 Vidalia onion (sliced)
4 large cloves of garlic (cut into pieces)
Add dry ingredients to clean jars. Mix everything for pickling liquid in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 4 minutes. Add to jars.
*Makes enough liquid for 2 jars
SPICY GARLIC DILL PICKLES:
For Each Jar:
1 tbsp Fresh dill (or more)
Sliced Vidalia Onions (or any sweet onions) - to taste
2 large garlic cloves (cut into pieces)
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
*dried cayenne would be good instead of the red pepper flakes
For Pickling Liquid:
1.5 cup Apple cider vinegar
1.5 cup Water
2 tbsp Pickling salt
*I had to make 2 batches to fill all 3 jars
Add all jar ingredients with spices in the bottom, then onions, garlic, dill & cucumber layered on top.
Once you've added the liquids to all the jars & close them, let them sit on the counter until they return to room temperature. Then keep in the refrigerator.
Wait at least 3 days before opening!
They'll stay good for up to 2 months, but I doubt they'll last that long!