Super Easy, Super Crunchy ~ Super Delicious!
Making you own pickles can be creative and rewarding – just takes a little reading to understand the method – and the freshest cucumbers off the vine. Pickling has become a culinary trend recently – they are not just for snacking anymore! I love to mince my pickles and add to a flavorful, pungent mayonnaise, call ” remoulade sauce” – a perfect dip for my blackened string beans.
Whether your garden produces a bumper crop of crisp kirby cucumbers, or piles of them at your local farmers’ market are hard to resist – gather up a few ingredients and become a pickling expert.
I have been canning for years, in the beginning I diligently read instructions from books, mostly found at tag sales. Canning is enjoyable for me – the process of selecting fresh fruit and vegetables and anticipating the textures and flavors is… a joy! No need for artificial preservatives – and I get to play a little, creating unique flavor combinations.
This is a beginner recipe – well tested for balance and success. ” Refrigerator Pickles” (also called “quick-process”) are the type that do not need a canning water bath. Simply ice cut spears of cucumbers and leave in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Don’t miss this step – keeps them crunchy! Then, dry off and pack into sterile canning jars, make a vinegar based brining solution on the stove top (takes only 5 minutes), and pour into the jars. Not too difficult, right? Secure the lids, cool and refrigerate. Your tangy- slightly spicy spears are ready to eat and enjoy in 2 – 3 days. They need to stay in the refrigerator, and will last over 2 months (unlike “canned” pickles which are shelf stable).
The flavors are Asian influenced and include slices of fresh ginger (which permeates the brew in time) and Shichimi Togarashi – a Japanese red pepper mix which includes red chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed. Keep a bottle on hand, it perks up many foods and is salt-free. For some pungent flair I have added strands of garlic chives found in my local Asian market, and coming soon to various farmers’ markets. These chives are added first, pressed toward the outside of the jar, then the kirbys get packed in followed by your hot pickling solution. Can use garlic scapes too! I do like a pickle with a sweet edge, but not bread-n butter sweet.
I use a lot of rice vinegar in Asian cooking, but decided to go 50/50 in this recipe – 50% rice vinegar, and 50% organic cider vinegar (which is more pungent and acidic). You can play a little with the seasoning mix – adding just what you like, but keep the main ingredients as listed. Much salt is not needed! I have seen tremendous amounts of sodium in many recipes, and commercially packed pickles can be over salted (works as a preservative!)
Pickling may seem to be a complex procedure, loaded with mysterious steps and unknown outcomes. In fact, you can make safe, high quality pickles if you use quality, fresh ingredients and follow these directions using sterile jars.
I found these vintage ball jars in an antique mall in Phoenix, Arizona and they are oh-so pretty, the pressed glass forms are unusual, with an art deco flair… and the silver metal tops look like zinc, but are aluminum. An acidic solution should never come into contact with aluminum, but in this case, these vintage jars have caps that are lined with glass! Milk glass that is.. what a find! The jars are rust free and have been well sterilized. Usually, vintage jars are cool for non-food storage, and filled with such things as decorative buttons or your office supplies. Hardware stores sell good quality canning jars that will last for years, only the caps need to be replaced if they are scratched.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, and let me know how the experience and recipe worked for you!