Friday, April 30, 2010

Pickles - Cheap, easy, fresh, delicious!

Oh, pickles. How yummy you are!

I seriously destroy these as soon as I make them. They are so good! Notice how I ate half the jar in order to arrange this photo? Well, at least they're low-calorie! I'm on the point of picking up cukes every time I'm at the farmer's market now, and the pickles make a quick snack. These are not truly fermented pickles, but rather a marinated type of pickle. These don't have lovely probiotics, unless you are using raw, unfiltered cider vinegar and raw honey.

I found the original recipe here on Tasty Kitchen. However, I detest sweet pickles, and the original recipe was far too sweet. Here is the recipe with my modifications:

  • 2 whole Cucumbers (this is if you are using full-size standard grocery store cucumbers. I vary with what's available, and have used 8-10 Persian cucumbers, or 3 Japanese long seedless ones. Be certain to get the ones that are not waxed - for this reason, go to the farmer's market and get organic ones. I say Organic, because you won't be peeling them, so whatever pesticides are on the cukes will stay on the cukes. Fair warning.)
  • 4-8 cloves Garlic (depending on size, and how much you like garlic. I like garlic a lot.)
  • 1 3/4 cup Vinegar (I used white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar would work well also)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon cups Sugar (or honey, or sucanat, or 1 teaspoon ground green stevia)
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt (some people swear that you must use pickling salt, or your pickles will discolor. Mine have never lasted that long! I used raw sea salt. Feel free to use more or less salt to your taste.)
  • 1 teaspoon Dill, Dried OR a few sprigs of fresh Dill
  • 1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 pinch ground Coriander or 4-5 whole coriander seeds
  • 6 whole Peppercorns
The original recipe stated to slice the cukes into fine slices, like those found on hamburgers. To that, I say "Nay!" and cut them in long quarters. But these are YOUR pickles, so cut them how you like.  I trim mine to the approximate length of the jars. If you are keeping the cukes whole, poke holes in them with a fork so that the brine will penetrate the skin. 
Smash the garlic cloves a bit. If they are large, then cut them into halves or quarters. 
Put cucumbers and garlic in a bowl or jar. In the photograph, I have used two pint size wide mouth canning jars, and stuffed them to capacity. Since I used two jars, I split the garlic between them. If using fresh dill, split that between the jars also, or put it in the bowl with the cukes and garlic. The reason I use the jars is that they keep the vinegar smell in the jar, and the jars are much less likely to spill. DO NOT make these in plastic. Just saying.
Heat vinegar, water, sugar, salt, dill (if using dried dill), red pepper flakes, coriander and peppercorns in a small sauce pan until sugar and salt are dissolved. The mixture should not boil, but be a touch warm. If you are using raw vinegar for the probiotics, then heat everything else in the water ONLY, then add the vinegar once you have taken the mixture off the heat. 
Pour the heated mixture over the cucumbers and garlic (and fresh dill, if applicable).  Cover and put in refrigerator for at least two hours. Then, eat them whenever. And you will. Often. Nummy.
The organic cukes cost about $3
$.15 for vinegar
$.50 for fresh organic garlic
$.25 for spices
$.10 or less of sugar/honey 
$.25 of organic dill from my CSA
So that's $4.25 for two 16 oz. jars of fresh, organic pickles, or $2.13 each. 
They took about 5 minutes to make, and I can make them how I like (spicier, garlicier, saltier, etc.). Not bad.


Jon Bassinger-Flores said...

Jenna, you detest sweet pickles? My grandmother in Birmingham, AL made the most heavenly bread'n'butter pickles! So sweet and tangy, YUMMM!!!

Jenna said...

Maybe I should rephrase - I've never met a sweet pickle that I liked!

I love the sharp vinegaryness of garlicky kosher dills. The sweet just gets in the way (says the sweets addict). All the sweet pickles and sweet relishes I've had were far too sweet. Perhaps I should give some homemade sweet pickles a try.

Maybe my brain just never wrapped around "sweet" and "vegetable" in the same bite.