Pickling Cucumbers – In Moderation

6 09 2009
Cucumbers en route to being Pickles

Cucumbers en route to being Pickles

This adventure is a product of two things: the Nordic Heritage Museum and the Farmers Market.  The sous chef and I have been the museum before and found a very nice looking Scandinavian Cookbook that I was really leaning towards. It was still there this time AND I realized it was divided into months for seasonal cooking! But I was hemming and hawing about it until the sous chef just bought it for me.  When flipping through it I saw a recipe for pickling cucumbers and didn’t really think to much of it.  Until we went to the market.

The morning of the market it was raining and we had lots of left overs/extra veggies that we needed to use.  We already had about 3 meals and we usually only do 3-4 per week so with the addition of rain we were on the fence about going or not. But we went with the idea of just buying a few things, mostly eggs (which we didn’t find!).  On my passes through the market I saw cucumbers and thought of the recipe. Eventually I found a stand that had them labeled as pickling cucumbers and I decided to do it! The key to past canning adventures has been size: 200 lbs of apples, a couple flats of berries, etc.  but this time I didn’t want to be on the city-size canning adventure.  So I bought about 13 cucumbers.  6 big enough that were long enough to fit into pint jars and wide enough to make spears out of. Then I got 7 or so nice and small ones to pickle whole. And then went and picked up some dill hoping the pickles in the cookbook were dill pickles!

Two-in-One Cucumber for  the whole picking

Two-in-One Whole Cucumber

makin' spears

makin' spears

Dill

Dill

Lucky for us the recipe in fact was a dill pickling recipe! The recipe is so simple the sous chef asked out loud why she hadn’t been pickling all these years? I don’t know! Anyway, like all good canning recipes we had to sterilize the jars for 5 minutes in boiling water.  I don’t intend these to be super-actually canned lasting for years so I was actually surprised it called for that. Anyway,  looking at my cucumber amounts I decided I was going to try for 4 pints of pickles.  So 4 jars, lids, and bands were set aside to boil.  While I was waiting for the water to boil and for them to sterilize I decided I was going to do some hamburger chips as well:

"Hamburger" Chips

"Hamburger" Chips

There were two reasons I decided to diversify: 1) The recipe calls for making chips so the times and credibility are on the line for the author and 2) it seems I could pack more into a jar this way.  Anyway, the next step was to prepare the brine for pickling.  It was essentially white vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns, and lemon juice.  We decided to splurge and use multi-colored pepper corns so the table spoon cost us $0.80 cents instead of $o.40 cents for just black or green. But it was worth it.  We boiled it until the sugar dissolved and then set it aside to cool while we sterilized the jars.

Pickling Brine Cooling

Pickling Brine Cooling

Once the jars were sterilize it was time to pack them with the cucumbers and the dill.  The recipe is for a single quart jar of pickles and 1 sprig of dill so we just put about a 1/4 of a sprig of dill into each jar but I think we went more than that. Of course it depends on how big of a sprig they were imagining so we don’t really know yet.

Packing Chips

Packing Chips

Packing Spears

Packing Spears

We ended up with 2 jars of spears, 1 jar of chips, and 1 jar of whole cucumbers.  Once we got all our cucumbers into the jars it was time to cover them with brine and close the lid.

Covering with Brine

Covering with Brine

Covered and Ready to Close

Covered and Ready to Close

Closing the Jars

Closing the Jars

This is when we lined them up and took pictures! The recipe calls to leave them for 2 days and they are ready. I suspect that will be the case for the chips and the spears but I’m doubtful for the whole pickles.  So right now I have nothing to report on taste until we open them up! Wish us luck!

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