Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pickle Recipes and More

A busy and abundant August has so far given us a surplus of tomatoes and cucumbers. We've canned a bunch of pickles, tomatoes and tomato juice. As promised in the previous post, here are a couple of recipes for using long bringed pickles.

Before you can make pickles from long-brined cucumbers, you need to de-salt them. Remove cucumbers from brine and place in a large container. Cover with cold water, using about four times as much water as cucumbers. Allow to sit 24 hours at room temperature. Change the water every eight hours. Drain and rinse the following day. Proceed with recipe for whatever type of pickles you are making.

Homemade pickles, one of summer's delights.

For Kosher-style dill pickles:
Use 3 pounds of desalted, long-brined cucumbers. Make a fresh brine consisting of 1 tablespoon pickling salt, 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 quarts water. Stir to disslove the salt. Place cucumbers, 3 tablespoons mixed pickling spices, 3 whole cloves of garlic, 3 bay leaves, a pod of red pepper (cut into one-inch pieces) and three small heads of dill (fresh or dried) into a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container that will hold at least 3quarts. Weight the cucumbers and spices under a plate. Pour the brine over them, using just enough to cover the plate. Water drawn from the cucumbers will increase the volume of liquid in the container. Cover the container and place in a shady spot at room temperature. Make note of the date.

One week later, drain off the brine into a large stainless steel pot, bring it to a boil and pour over the cucumbers and seasonings. Repeat this procedure once, after a second week has passed. Wait a third week, drain the cucumbers and pack into hot pint jars. Distrubute the garlic, bay leaves, red pepper pieces and dill evenly among the jars. Bring the brine to a boil again and pour over the cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles, adjust caps and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Yield, about 3 pints.

Using a similar, though shorter, procedure and a different pickling brine, you can prepare delicious sweet pickles.

Place 3 pounds desalted brined cucumbers into a suitable container. In a cheesecloth bag place 2 sticks cinnamon, 1 tablespoon whole cloves and 1/2 teaspoon mace. Tie the bag closed and add it to the container. In another pot, combine 3 1/2 cups sugar and 4 cups vinegar. Bring to a boil and pour over the cucumbers. After 24 hours, drain off the liquid, bring it to a boil again, and pour over the cucumbers and spice bag. After another 24 hours, repeat. After a third day has passed, drain again, pack the cucumbers into hot pint jars and bring the liquid to a boil again. Discard the spice bag and pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust the caps and process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

The seasonings in these recipes are traditional but may be varied to suit your taste or whim, as long as the ratios of water, vinegar, salt and sugar are maintained.

Bon appetit!

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