So I inadvertently killed half my cucumber plant, then other day, when I mistook its slender stem for a leaf-stem and cut through it to clip a hard-to-reach cuke.
So I made pickles. Half from one of the cucumbers (they’re small — not more than about 4″ long) and half from the cucumber slices left over after a party I helped to throw the other night. (The left-over veggies are finding their way into salads, at the moment, but I’m inclined to see if I can’t find a pickled radishes recipe somewhere, just to try it out…)
My sister makes garlic-jalapeno dills (asparagus and cucumber, both) every year, and gives them out as xmas presents. I love them to bits, they are delicious. So – no surprises here – I decided it was high time to figure out how to do so for myself.
I’m going to come right out and say this now (it probably won’t be the last time): Cooking is emphatically NOT an exact science for me. Most
recipes cooking techniques were developed centuries before standardized measuring cups, let alone candy thermometers, pH-testers, and refrigeration. So, while, yes, I’m aware that all that sugar, all that vinegar, those spices and that salt, they’re all there for a reason, I’m also not particularly afraid to play with things a little bit. (The Kitchen Witch school of cooking – and composting, come to that – as opposed to the CM school).
As such, while I totally did the two-day thing where you soak the cucumbers in super-salty water for 24 hours beforehand, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly when it came to the Extras.
This is how I did it:
Garlic-Dill Pickled Cucumbers
1 3/4 C sliced cucumbers (this is two small cucumbers or 1 medium-sized one, more or less)
1/2 C salt
water to cover
For the Extras
1 large (or 2 small) clove fresh garlic, slivered
2 tbsp dried dill weed
1 tsp pickling spice
pinch whole mustard seeds
5 whole black pepper corns
1 grape leaf (this will help keep the pickles crunchy, or so I’m told)
For the Brine
1C white wine vinegar
1/2 C water
1 (heaping) tsp salt
Lay the cucumber in a flat-bottom tupperware, layering them with the salt (1/4 C per layer, more or less), until the tupperware is half-full OR you run out of cucumber.
Cover the cucumbers with water, then set a saucer on top to keep them from floating
Put the lid on the tupperware and let sit over night (12-24 hours). I left mine on the counter, but you could also put it in the fridge
Drain the water off your cucumbers, then rinse them very well and drain them again.
Prepare your Extras so that they are ready to be put in the canning jar. Don’t mix them together quite yet.
Fill a frying pan (I use a steel one, but whatever) most of the way with water. Put the lid, ring, and mouth-end of a 2C mason jar into the water (make sure the water can get up inside the jar a little bit).
Turn it on high and let the steam sterilize the jars for a good five minutes once the water is at a rolling boil. (The inside of the jar should have some water condensing on its sides, fyi).
Take the jar, lid, and ring out of the water (use oven mits for the jar, tongs for the lid and the ring) and set them aside (I put them on a wire rack, personally).
In a small pot, combine the vinegar, water, and salt, stirring and bringing it to a hard boil while the salt dissolves. Once the salt dissolves, keep it boiling for another two minutes (covering it is fine).
Put the pickling spice, mustard and peppercorns, plus HALF the dill and HALF the garlic into the jar.
Pack the cucumbers and the grape leaf (can be torn up) into the jar, leaving about half an inch of head-room between the cucumbers and the collar of the jar. NOW add the rest of the dill and the rest of the garlic.
Pour the HOT vinegar mixture into the jar, not all the way up to the top (you will have some left over). Tap the side of the jar for a little bit to encourage the air bubbles to rise to the top and to make sure the vinegar mixture gets into all the nooks and crannies. Top up the jar a little bit, if needed, but you probably won’t have to.
Cap the jar securely. Now up-end it in the frying pan again (you may need to top up the water in the frying pan at this point) and boil the water again, leaving the jar in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes before removing it.
Turn it right-side-up and set it on a wire rack (or the counter) to cool. As it cools, you’ll (eventually – mine took a little while) hear the “plink” of the lid sealing itself to the jar. If you don’t hear this, you will need to re-can the pickles (or just store them in the fridge and eat them up very quickly).
Give the pickles a good two weeks to let their flavours mingle and develop, then dig in.
Having only made these yesterday, I have no idea how they taste. However, being as I love mustard and garlic and dill and cucumbers, and my partner loves garlic and pepper and cucumbers, chances are good we’ll quite enjoy them.
As far as things go, magically? There’s nothing specifically magical-intentional about these pickles. BUT the dill was grown by my partner in her long-ago garden, and the cucumbers were grown, by me, on our shared balcony this summer, so I’m quite happy to code this as a symbolic entwining of our two green thumbs and a reflection of our tendency to nurture each other.
– Meliad the Birch Maiden