Ohhhh, summer. The sun is beating down on you relentlessly. Where the caterpillars are crawling all over the dill waiting to grow into butterflies, the heat is stifling… and the humidity makes you want to kill babies.
Maybe its not that bad. But it is pretty bad.
However on the upside the gardens are overflowing with vegetables, the flowers have never looked prettier, and it’s PICKLE TIME.
I had a bunch of pickling cucumbers to harvest, of course I had to grab my dill heads and use them before those Black Swallowtail caterpillars ate ’em all! So yeah. It’s pickle time. Better yet… it’s HOP PICKLE TIME.
Yes. Hop pickles. Remember those? I made them about 3 years ago for the first time after learning about Brooklyn Brine’s Hop Pickles. The Brooklyn Brine variety is made with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA & some Cascade hop oil. Mine are made with straight up beer- this time, a Pilsner.
When I first made them, I wasn’t sure if the flavor could be replicated- especially since I never actually ate one of the Brooklyn Brine pickles. But they were spectacular, according to my husband who is the pickle expert of the house.
The thing with these pickles is that you add the beer to the hot brine; so if you’re using a cold beer, at least let it sit out of the fridge for a while before using it. You don’t want it to be so cold it reduces the temperature of the brine too much. Room temperature beer is much better still. Also- you can make them into spears or chips or slices or even leave ’em whole I guess. Jay happens to enjoy these on hamburgers so chips are more practical for us.
And yes, the onions are 100% optional.
MARILLA’S HOP-PICKLES MADE WITH PILSNER
MAKES ABOUT 1 QUART OR 2 PINTS, CAN BE DOUBLED
- 4-6 small pickling cucumbers (about 1- 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 cup white vinegar, 5%
- 1 cups water
- 1 tablespoon pickling salt
- 2 large dill heads, 2 small dill heads or 2 teaspoons dill seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
- a little sprinkle of mustard seed per jar
- a couple of “onion rings” (sliced onions) *OPTIONAL
- 1 chili pepper, seeded & sliced OR 1/2 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes
- a dash of cumin seeds
- 2 medium cloves garlic, each cut in half
- 1/2 bottle Coney Island Brewing Co. Mermaid Pilsner (or other IPA/Pilsner of your choice)
- Place jar/s in waterbath, stove or your dishwasher to sterilize them. Keep jars hot.
- Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the bottle of beer (at the end of this you will end up with leftover brine, it’s almost certain; I always do). Stir until the foam or bubbles have dissipated.
- 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. Cut cucumbers to desired shape/size.
- Remove hot jars from canner. Divide the fresh dill or dill seeds, pickling spice, chili peppers/chili pepper flakes, cumin seeds, onions and garlic among the jars/jar (they should still be hot); pack in cucumbers.
- Pour the hot beer brine mixture over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch of rim (head space). Place lids, then bands, turning only to fingertip tight. Let sit in a cool dark place for 24 hours. Check seal. If not sealed, put the jar in the fridge and enjoy right away- and by right away I mean after one week! If sealed, you should still allow jars to sit for one week before opening for optimal flavor. You can also process in a waterbath for 10 minutes, in which case you do not have to sterilize the jars beforehand.
So far I’ve used both IPA and Pilsner for this (from two different brewing companies as well) and both choices were great. I would avoid using a sweet, dark beer like a stout or porter, but otherwise I think probably any beer would work. The Mermaid Pilsner, according to the Coney Island Brewing Co. is “…a light-bodied, crisp-drinking, nicely hopped lager. A heavy-handed addition of rye malt adds a mild spiciness, which is balanced by a light, fruity, floral hop aroma.” I first had this beer at the NY Best Wings Festival back in June and I loved it, so when I decided to make a batch of these I thought that it might be an awesome beer to use, and it was.
Just so happened we had some on hand! But- like I said- an IPA works really well too.
If you brew your own beer, these pickles would be especially awesome for you! You can also use a bit of hop oil in them to amp up that flavor; however we’ve found that the beer itself lends more than enough. Experiment! Play with them! Get pickled away.
Disclaimer: my pickles are in NO WAY connected to nor is my recipe the same as Brooklyn Brine’s. I can’t speak on how exactly they make their pickles. All I know is what I’ve read online. This is just me seeing something cool and innovative and making it myself based on the ingredients. Plz don’t sue me, kthx.