Preping the pickles

Yesterday on my hunt for morning breakfast I opened my larder door and there were cucumbers winking back at me, I went to the fridge to retrieve milk for found cereal and there were cucumbers, lots of them lined up on the bottom shelf, so faced with a dozen or so cues I set out to find a way of preserving them. Sticking to my mantra about ‘no waste’ this year, I found this delightful recipe on ‘The Kitchen’ website and I love it because it says you can utilize what you have to hand, in this case I had mustard seeds, garlic and black peppercorns, if I had had any dilly beans or red pepper flakes I could have used those. I can do a simple ‘eat soon’ recipe or a’ keep longer’ boiling one. So set with my ingredients to hand this is how it went.

Ingredients:  
1 1/2 pounds of cucumbers ( mine were telegraph improve variety) recipe suggests Kirby or Persian.
4 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon of dill seed (here I used 1 teaspoon of mustard seed)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional ( here I used 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns)
1 cup organic cider vinegar
1 cup water 
1 1/2 tablespoon pickling salt or kosher salt
 I only had sea salt flakes in so I researched it a bit and apparently sea salt is fine to use in pickling but use a bit more than recipe states as it is less dense than pickling salt. I think this is also important to know ‘ in fermented sauerkraut and brined pickles, salt not only provides characteristic flavour but also is vital to safety since it favours the growth of desirable bacteria while inhibiting the growth of others.

packing in tightly

Equipment Needed:
Cutting knife 
cutting board
2 wide mouthed pint (0.50 LT) jars with lids
Large pot if canning

Method:
1. Prepare Jars and lids. For long term storage sterilize jars by submerging in boiling water and lids in hot soapy water, set to dry in a warm oven. Remember that lids are meant to be used only once, best to use new ones each time. For refrigerator pickles a good wash is fine. I’v heard a dishwasher can also be used for sterilizing,
2. Wash and dry the cucumbers, trim away the blossom end, this will give a firmer pickle. The end contains enzymes which can lead to limp pickles. The pickles can be left whole, sliced into spears or discs. I cut mine into spears.
3. Divide the spices being used between the jars evenly.
4. Pack the cucumbers into the jars tightly without smashing them. Leave 1/2 inch (2cm) between the top of the cucumbers and the top of the jar. You need air between the food and the lid that can expand (forcing out excess) and then contract to form the necessary vacuum.
5. In a small saucepan combine the cider vinegar, water and salt and bring to a rolling boil. Once temperature is reached pour the brine over the pickles and fill each jar to within 1/2 inch (2cm) of the top. The recipe states that there may be some brine left over which there was, but then I used old shop brought pickle jars and not regular pickling 1 pint sized ones, so I filled a little extra jar up with pickles and filled it with the excess brine. (Later I remade this recipe with the right sized jars and the liquid was spot on.)

adding the brine

6. Tap the sides of the jars to remove any air bubbles and top up with brine if necessary.
7. Place lids over jars and screw up snugly .
8. If wanting to keep other than as fridge pickles I recommend using the correct jars such as kilner screw top jars where the inner disposable lid is kept in place by a reusable screw ring. Place lid on top of jars and screw outer cap to a snug fit but not over tight. Place jars in a boiling pot of water. When the water returns to boil set a timer for ten minutes, when processed, turn off heat. Leave to rest till the water stops steaming to prevent burning yourself and remove jars. Remove upright and place on a tea towel, cover with another tea towel and leave undisturbed for 24 – 48 hours. There should be a partial vacuum in the jar that pulls the lid down tight, if it pops when you press down you did not get a vacuum, if this happens use as fridge pickles and eat first.
9. Processed jars can be stored in a cool place like a larder. Unprocessed pickles need to be kept in the fridge. Wait at least 48 hours before using. Pickles improve flavour with age. Fridge pickles will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. Processed pickles will keep for 18 months on a shelf and several weeks in the fridge once opened. 
 As this is my first venture into pickling cucumbers or any pickling actually, I have not got at the ready recommended screw topped jars or pickling salt, but I am very happy with the outcome of today’s work. If all tastes as good as looks I will certainly be obtaining resources to begin pickling in earnest.

Ta -dah!

Recipe turned out great, here is a picture of my next effort. I doubled the recipe, used  the proper canning jars, did the boiling preserving method and added some red pepper for taste and  gorgeous colour.

4 x  1 pint  (0.50 LT ) double recipe



Advertisements