By now, you probably have cucumbers, zucchinis, peppers, and tomatoes coming out of your ears. So what do you do with all these yummylicious veggies?
As the saying goes, “Peter picked a peck of pickles…”, pickle them, of course!
I, kimchi queen, love all kinds of pickles. Half sours are my favorite but I can eat any kinds of pickles with anything…except real mushy yellowish ones. Or nauseatingly sweet or really REALLY sour ones. Can’t stomach them.
So how do you pickle cukes so they turn out not too sour or sweet or soggy but crisp and crunchy? It is tricky to keep them crunchy after they’ve been pickled or canned. And there are a lot of ‘secrets’ out there, promising ‘snap – ‘em in half’ crunchy cukes.
But trust me. I have the only secret you need to make crrrrunchy pickles. So follow these easy peasy steps and you will want to pickle everything. Maybe even socks.
How to pickle your summer harvest
5-7 medium cucumbers or any vegetables you want to pickle. I like English or Kirby cukes.
1-2 Tablespoon of coarse salt, like sea salt or kosher salt (but not iodized table salt)
1 cup organic unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar (you can adjust the amount, depending on how sour you want. Half-sours should be 1/2 Cup)
1 cup water
1 tbsp C of sugar
1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 Tsp Celery Seeds
1/8 Tsp Ground Turmeric
1 1/2 C fresh dill fronds – about one bunch
3 clove garlic minced (I love garlic so I use 3 but you can use less)
1 Tsp Semi-crushed black peppercorns
Yield: 2 1/2 Cups of pickling juice. You can double the portions if you like.
Equipment: Pickling jars, like old pickle jars or mason jars (I bought a case from Bed Bath & Beyond with their 20% coupon. They were very reasonable)
Pick cucumbers that are firm and green. Don’t use over ripen or yellowing cukes. Less seeds the better. Wash cucumbers and cut the ends. Slice them horizontally, in about 1/8″ thick. Sprinkle salt liberally and set them in a colander over a bowl. Refrigerate for about 2 hours. If you are cutting the cukes vertically in spears, you’ll have to refrigerate a bit longer. You can also slice them vertically for sandwiches too. How do you know when the cukes are salty enough and they are done? Taste one. If it’s salty enough for you, then, it’s done. No rocket science there.
Meanwhile, to make the brine, add all the ingredients, except dill. At this point, if you want quick pickles, you can boil the brine in a quart size pot, stirring to dissolve sugar. But if you want pickles for its probiotic properties and can wait a bit before eating them, do not boil the brine. Boiling the brine will kill all the good bacteria for fermentation. If not boiling, combine all the ingredients and set aside.
Take the cukes out of the refrigerator and rinse. Layer cukes and dill fronds in one or more jars. Pour hot brine mixture into the jar, completely covering the cukes. Let it cool and seal the jar. Refrigerate up to one week….if it lasts that long. If canning, you can can after you boil the brine. Cukes will turn yellow when canning. But they will stay crunchy if you salt them and refrigerate them.
I pickled cauliflowers, radish, carrots, celeries, peppers, and of course, cucumbers! I canned a few jars too so I can have them in the winter. The red color in the brine comes from radish. Isn’t it pretty?
Secret to crunchiness
Salt cucumbers and keep them COLD. Keep them in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Put them on ice if you can but keeping them as COLD as possible is the key to making crunchy pickles.
See my sandwich pickles and the sliced ones in the back? I salted them and kept them COLD in the refrigerator for 2 hours before pickling them and they are crrrunchy!
Yellow vs. Green Pickles
The canned cukes turn yellow when you heat the bottles. But they stay crunchy if you salt them in cold refrigerator prior to canning them. If you want green pickles, don’t use hot brine or can them. Use cooled brine straight into the jar but since they are not canned, you can’t keep them as long.
P.S. You can find various recipes for pickling cucumbers but I used recipes from Ball’s Fresh Preserving.com and Rodale’s. You can adjust the amounts for each herbs and sugar, like I did. There is no written rule about pickling spices. Gosh, you can even use Pickling Spice that come in a bottle. I didn’t but it’s totally allowed.
P.P.S The beauty of pickling is that you can reuse the pickle juice for the next batch! That’s right! So if you have pickle juice that you love, save it and add some sliced up veggies to it! About one day later, you’ve got pickles! How awesome is that?
So, what are you going to pickle?
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