Thursday, September 22, 2011

Never too many pickles!

On August 29, theoretically the first day of school, everything shut down due to Tropical Storm Irene wreaking havoc up the eastern seaboard. So I did as any sensible person would do: I took myself to a local farm stand--Lamoy's in Morrisonville--where smallish pickling cukes could be acquired, and I spent the day putting up a dozen quarts of the Blessed Blesi Garlic Dills. (Some clever food preservationist termed the inclination to put up food during extreme weather "hurricanning." Tee hee.)  I had about a pint's worth of cucumbers left over, so I sliced them into small spears, threw some hot brine over them and tucked them into the fridge. Within a couple of days, they made some tasty (though overly-salty) tideover pickles until the canned ones had time to mature.

The problem is, as much as I love the regular garlic dills, I loved munching on the Claussen-type refrigerator pickles, too. So three weeks later, I went back to Lamoy's, bought a small basket of end-of-season, odd-sized cukes, and made four more quarts of refrigerator pickles! I don't think I will be running out of pickles anytime soon...ha ha.

This time, I tried a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Food in Jars. This was for just two pints, but I quadrupled the recipe. I like the addition of a little onion to these pickles, but I also added a generous teaspoon of red pepper flakes to each jar for some kick, along with some black peppercorns and yellow mustard seeds.

Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles
(Source: adapted from Food in Jars)
Makes two pints

1 quart kirby cucumbers (approximately 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup filtered water (I used regular tap water)
2 teaspoons sea salt (I used canning salt)
2 teaspoons dill seed
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 spring onions (whites only), chopped
*I threw a few black peppercorns in each jar, too, and a teaspoon each of yellow mustard seeds and red pepper flakes

Wash and dry kirby cucumbers. Chop ends off and slice into spears (or coins or sandwich slices, if you prefer). Set aside.

Combine vinegar, water and salt in sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Equally divide the dill seed, garlic cloves and chopped onion (and peppercorns, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes, if using) between the two jars. Pack the cucumber spears into the jars as tightly as you can without crushing them.

Pour the brine into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Put lids on the jars and let them cool on the counter top. Once they’re cool, put them in the refrigerator. Let cure for at least a day before eating. Pickles will keep in the fridge for up to a month. (I suspect that they will keep longer than this...we shall see.)

Note: Your jars may seal during the cooling process. The USDA will tell you that this doesn’t mean that your pickles are then shelf stable. However, there are people who flout those rules. Use your best judgment.

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