The Pickle Sisters, c. 1920’s, image courtesy of Retronaut
A safe assumption here would be that you’re a new reader who doesn’t remember the previous version of these I created. That would be not only the safest assumption, but the most logical, seeing as how I’m sure the majority of people who are googling “whiskey maple pickles” or some variation of that haven’t been reading my blog (although THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN). Because let’s face it, if they were, they’d have known about the previous incarnation of this recipe & they wouldn’t need to be Googling it. But I am not naive nor conceited enough to think everyone in the world knows about/reads my blog.
So here’s a little recap: last year I made pickles. In those pickles, there was not only the usual suspects: dill, pickling spices, salt, vinegar, etc… but also maple syrup & bourbon.
They were pretty awesome, and I don’t even like pickles (!). I do, however, make them for other people’s enjoyment. And Jay loves him some pickles.
If you’re too lazy to click a link, then here’s a little more in-depth copy + paste for ya from the original post:
… Maple-bourbon pickles. Inspired by the Brooklyn Brine Company’s Whiskey Sour pickles, which I first saw in Williams-Sonoma. I decided to make a jar or two of these for Jay. I’m not cheap, far from it, but paying $12.95 for 24 oz. of pickles seemed a bit… over-indulgent. Especially when I figured I could make them myself. At first he wasn’t sure how he’d feel about them, but then he had one of their pickles when he played a show at the St. Vitus Bar & raved about it, so I thought “Why not make one teensy jar of them & see?” It seemed unique enough. How bad could it be? It’s pickles + whiskey. That’s a pretty rock star pickle.
In case you’re wondering, [a Pickleback] is an actual thing you can order in some bars. That name for it originated at The Bushwick Country Club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2007. It’s a shot of whiskey (from what I’ve read, it’s usually Jameson, but at The Bushwick Country Club they use Old Crow) with a pickle juice, or brine, chaser (they use McClure’s [pickles]). The brine neutralizes the burn of the alcohol & the taste of the whiskey. Once I learned that, through a NYT article from almost 2 years ago, I thought the whiskey pickle idea was even more interesting.
I had high hopes back then that my versions of these two insanely genius pickles would be pretty awesome, if not perfectly awesome. And Jay confirmed that they were, noting that his favorite of the two (between the plain bourbon pickles & the maple-bourbon) was indeed the batch with maple syrup.
Jay is a big pickle guy, but he said those were probably his favorites of all the ones I made (until he had the hop pickles– but that’s another story). Anyway, he had a bunch of pickles open in the fridge and then Superstorm Sandy hit & knocked out the power FOR YEARS & YEARS. Or a few weeks. Whatever. And then after weeks of sitting in a refrigerator that wasn’t on, all those pickle jars had to be thrown away, whether they were almost empty or practically full. It was very sad to see all that work tossed in the garbage- especially since I only had a few unopened jars of pickles left and none of them were the bourbon pickles. *insert long sigh*
But alas… the story continues. You see, a friend of Jay’s owns a bar in Brooklyn called The Monro Pub. And through him Jay discovered this whiskey called Cabin Fever, which is essentially Grade B dark maple syrup blended with 80 proof whiskey.
For real. This is a thing.
And upon hearing of such a wondrous thing, and then tasting such a wondrous thing, I decided that the only thing left to do would be to remake those maple-whiskey pickles using this delectable & convenient whiskey product. Not to mention the fact that now I have a better camera, so I can take nicer pictures of these lovely little pickles.
I know, it’s not really pickling season yet. But like I said last week about those strawberry jam cakes… sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.
MARILLA’S SUPER AWESOME MAPLE-WHISKEY PICKLES WITH CABIN FEVER WHISKEY
Makes about 2 pints, recipe can be doubled or tripled
- 4-5 small pickling cucumbers (about 1- 1 1/2 pounds), or regular cucumbers if you’re going to slice them into chips… I usually use Kirby’s myself (just don’t use the large waxed ones! Persian cucumbers are okay, not perfect but they’ll work)
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 6 tablespoons Cabin Fever maple whiskey
- 1 tablespoon pickling salt
- 2 heads fresh dill, or 2 sprigs of fresh dill PLUS 1/2 heaping teaspoon dill seeds, divided
- 1 teaspoon pickling spice
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
- a dash of freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of hot pepper flakes or one half of a small Serrano chili pepper, finely diced
- dash of chili powder- OPTIONAL
- 2 small cloves garlic
- a few slices of onions (“rings”)- OPTIONAL
- Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. This prevents a “mushy” pickle, as the ends of cucumbers contain an enzyme that makes them mushy. Then slice cucumbers as you like- slices, spears or sandwich-size; or leave them whole. Place jars in canner to sterilize them and place lids in hot water to soften seal.
- Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove hot jars from canner. Pour 3 tablespoons Cabin Fever maple whiskey in each jar. Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 heaping teaspoon dill seeds, onion (if using), 1/4 teaspoon pickling spice, the mustard seed, black pepper, onions, hot pepper flakes and 1 minced clove of garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers tightly.
- Pour boiling vinegar/water mixture over cucumbers to within ½ inch of rim (head space). Place lids & bands. Process 10 minutes for pint jars and 15 minutes for quart jars.
- Allow jars to sit for at least one week before opening for optimal flavor, but no one will kill you if you crack one open early.
Cabin Fever is definitely the whiskey to use for this. It makes it easier, kills two birds with one stone, whatever cliche you want to use. It takes the guesswork out of finding both a good quality maple syrup & a good whiskey (especially if you’re whiskey-stupid like I am). I usually depend on Jay to tell me what’s whiskey, what’s bourbon, what’s rye & what just plain sucks. But then there’s always the problem of making sure you’ve got a nice maple syrup that isn’t just 90% high-fructose corn syrup colored brown. This way, I know I can use this and it’ll work out just fine and not taste like gasoline pickles.
If you’re interested in the original recipe (using bourbon & maple syrup), then follow your nose here. Included in that post is also a recipe for plain bourbon pickles, and whiskey can definitely be substituted as you see fit.
Speaking of whiskey- I found a new favorite blog: Pork & Whisk(e)y.
Note: please follow all the appropriate canning procedures when creating your pickles. I will not be held responsible for your botulism related medical issues and/or death. Make sure you know what you’re doing before attempting to jar any shelf-stable food products. Alternately, make them according to the recipe and as soon as the jars are cooled, place them in the refrigerator.