Cucumbers are plentiful this time of the year but they are also readily available in most grocery stores year round. Our family has decided that for the most part we prefer refrigerator pickles. I will include two recipes for them at the end of this post.
There are four basic kinds of pickles: freshpack, fermented, fruit and relishes.
Here are the basic ingredients for successful pickling:
VEGETALBES & FRUITS: Fully ripened (but not overly so) and the fresher the better.
Always remove 1/16 inch slice from the blossom end to avoid soft pickles.
For the best results, try to pickle produce within 24 hours of picking.
Cucumbers are the most common item to pickle, but avoid using supermarket ones that have
been waxed . . .
SALT: NEVER use table salt. It has additives that will not create good results. Salt is a
Necessary part of the fermentation process. ALWAYS use CANNING or PICKLING salt
or Kosher SALT. These are free of additives. Always use the amount called for in the
SUGAR: Use white, granulated sugar unless another variety is specified in the recipe.
Sugar substitutes can only be used in recipes specifically calling for them.
VINEGAR: Never dilute vinegar unless the recipe calls for it. Always use a good quality
vinegar with at least 5% acidity (or 50 gram strength). Either cider or white vinegar can
be interchanged in most recipes.
SPICES: The fresher the spices the better. If you use dried rather than fresh, remember
that ¼ teaspoon dried equals 1 teaspoon fresh. For dill, 1 head of fresh dill equals 1
teaspoon dill seed or dillweed.
FIRMING AGENTS: Alum or pickling lime (calcium hydroxide) are still called for in some
recipes, however, be careful using the lime and make sure that you thoroughly rinse the
pickles before processing them. Using many of today’s recipes, you will obtain good, crisp
pickles without the use of either.
Remember when pickling to use the correct amounts of salt, sugar and vinegar for best results. Cutting corners to accommodate diabetics or low sodium diets can drastically alter the results.
Pickle making can be done in a few hours or a few weeks, depending on the recipe and the method used.
My family is especially partial to refrigerator pickles. They can be made up and stored in an extra refrigerator (like the one in our garage) if you are short on refrigerator space in your kitchen. I often use gallon jars and these pickles will actually keep very well for several months (often for six or more). Since there are just two of us now, we prefer this method as we don’t eat as many pickles as we did when raising our family.
For both recipes, prepare your jars and have them ready. You can use any size you want or transfer them to smaller jars after they have ‘pickled’.
6 ½ cups water
3 ¼ cups white vinegar
2/3 cup pickling salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 peas sized piece of alum (abt. ¼ tsp.)
Several large heads of fresh dill
Wash the cucumbers well and cut if desired. In the bottom of a one gallon jar, place the garlic, alum and dill.
Combine the water, vinegar and salt, stirring until the salt dissolves.
Pack the jar with cucumbers (but not too tightly)
Cover with the brine mixture. Cover the jar and set in the sun for two days.
Refrigerate and enjoy. These are very much like the Claussen Pickles found in the coolers in grocery stores.
REFRIGERATOR BREAD & BUTTER PICKLES
1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. salt (use Kosher or pickling salt)
1 tsp. celery seed
¼ tsp. turmeric
1 cup raw onion slices
6 cups cucumber slices
Combine the first five ingredients, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved.
Fill jars with cucumbers and onion slices. Pour the brine over them. Let sit overnight at room temperature. Then refrigerate. These keep very well for a length of time. As you use
Up the pickles and onions, you can replace them in the brine for several times before needing to mix up a new batch of the brine.
* I plan to experiment using various amounts of Splenda in the Bread & Butter Pickle recipe and will let you know if the results are good.