I love pickles. I mean, I’m crazy about them. Ever go to a good deli and they bring you a bowl of pickles to munch on while you wait for your food to arrive? There are “new” pickles (half-sour), full sour, pickled tomatoes and sometimes peppers. I am addicted to them and could eat that whole bowl as my meal.
They are a great snack when you need a big flavor for few calories, too. So, pickles serve me well. I’ll let you in on a secret... I’m sick of buying them. Why can’t I make them myself? I don’t live in Williamsburg, or out on a farm in the Midwest, but I was willing to try.
Now, I know that there are many levels of excellence in pickle making and I don’t profess to be expert, at all. I did try my hand at some the other day with what I had in the house and they came out sweetly piquant, crunchy and most of them are already gone. Let’s face it, in my home when something disappears, it means it was worth eating.
These are a bit on the sweet side but I was in the mood for them that way. I have a spicy batch in my refrigerator now, but they won’t be done for a few days. I’ll get back to you on those.
The cucumbers you buy may have different names. Some are labeled pickling cucumbers, some are called new, and some are called Kirby. I found eight Kirby cucumbers and brought them home.
The recipe is basic:
- 8 pickling cucumbers (I used Kirby)
- 2 cup of distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp celery seed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 sliced onion
- Bring vinegar, sugar, salt and peppercorns to a boil, and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Slice your cucumbers into your favorite shape. I went with coins about ¼ inch wide.
- Place them into a glass bowl and add the celery seed, bay leaves and optional onion.
- Pour the slightly cooked liquid over the cucumbers, stir and let steep.
- When the bowl has cooled completely, you can put your pickles into clean, dry glass containers before refrigerating. Mason jars work well but any glass jar will do, if it’s been cleaned well. I recommend throwing them in your dishwasher to be sure they are clean and dry before use. You can discard the bay leaves, but ladle the liquid and the cucumbers into the jars evenly.
I waited three days before trying them. They were still lightly crunchy and the flavor was just what I was looking for. There were no additives and I felt damn good about popping a few with a little Swiss cheese. No way they’d disappoint on a burger, etc. Try them out and let me know how you like them.