I made pickles! You might think that this has something to do with a strange pregnancy craving. After all, the “pickles and ice cream” combo has been synonymous with pregnancy since the turn of the twentieth century!
But alas, my journey into pickle-making was prompted by nothing more than an abundance of cucumbers in our garden this year. Pickling has become something of a trend (see: Portlandia) and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was!
The cucumbers we grew this year happened to be pickling cucumbers. That’s the only itty bitty cucumber plant the nursery had at the time we were ready to plant the garden, and honestly, we don’t really know the difference. They’re short and kind of chubby and apparently they love growing in our garden. I researched a few different pickle recipes and went rogue with my own concoction, a tart and garlicky version with a kick from homegrown jalapenos. After re-washing some pint jars (leftover from last year’s NOG), I started by cutting up the cukes, some into spears and some into slices.
To make the brine, I heated a combination of water and apple cider vinegar on the stove. I dissolved a couple of heaping tablespoons of kosher salt into the liquid.
Into the sterilized jars, I shoved a lot of fresh dill fronds and dropped a couple of whole smashed garlic cloves in them, too. I filled the jars with the cucumbers, then added more flavorings with mustard seed, crushed red pepper, and whole peppercorns.
For heat, I added thick jalapeno slices (seeds included!) and another garlic clove on top of the cucumbers. I managed to stuff another dill frond in each jar before pouring the hot brine through a funnel over the whole thing. I made sure the cucumbers were covered with the liquid but left a little bit of space at the top of the jar.
That’s all there is to it! I love seeing all of the other ingredients among the cucumbers. I left the sealed jars on the counter to cool for two days. Before we left on our trip, I popped them into the fridge to get pickly and delicious.
When we returned from our trip two weeks later, we tasted our pickle experiment. The soak in the brine had made those cucumbers tart and delicious. Because I didn’t do a traditional jarring method using heat, the pickles retained a satisfying crunch. You can really taste all of the flavors- dill, pepper, garlic- and there’s a nice heat from those jalapenos that comes a few seconds after you take a bite! I love that the cucumbers and jalapeños came from our own backyard.
After munching on a few pickles, we brainstormed how to enjoy them in recipes. They’d be a tasty addition to any burger or fried chicken sandwich. They’d be delightful chopped into a relish and served on sausages or hot dogs, or stirred into a tartar sauce for dipping. It would also be interesting in potato salad or deviled eggs. But we decided to make Cuban sandwiches…and they were fabulous.
But that’s a post for another day.
Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles
- 4 pickling cucumbers, cut into spears or thick slices
- 2/3 cup water
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 heaping tablespoons kosher salt
- Lots of fresh dill: I used three ¼ oz. packages
- 6-8 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed, divided
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, divided
- 1 large jalapeno, sliced and divided
In a sauce pot, combine the water, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Bring to a simmer and dissolve the salt.
Sterilize two lidded pint jars in the dishwasher. Into each, add plenty of dill fronds and a couple of garlic cloves. Fill the jars with the cucumbers. Into each jar, add ½ teaspoon each of the mustard seed, crushed red pepper, and peppercorns. Divide the jalapeno slices between the two jars. Finish with more dill.
Through a funnel, carefully fill the jars with the hot brine, making sure to cover the cucumbers and leaving a bit of space between the brine and the lid. Cover tightly with the lid and set on the counter for 48 hours. Pop the jars in the fridge to pickle for two weeks. The pickles should last a couple of months! Cheers to homegrown and homemade. YUM.
Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page.
The New 52: A recipe for each week in 2015.
One year ago: Fall magic on Spring Trail.