Category: cucumbers

Quick little sweet pickles.

Vintage Home Pickling book.

Ahhh, pickles. You come into my life every summer at the demand of the pickle-obsessed people in my family, you sit pretty on shelves or in the refrigerator for a while and then you’re gobbled up and before I know it, I’m making more of you. Good thing I’m not a pickle fan myself. In the words of the infamous notorious Biggie Smalls: “Never get high off your own supply.” Yes, he was talking about crack, but the principle is the same.

If I actually ate pickles, then I’d never have any to give away (or sell… *ahem*), and then people would annoy me more than they already do to make more. I’m not sure how many folks out there could somehow relate the “Ten Crack Commandments” to pickles, but what can I say?

Quick sweet pickles made with cinnamon, clove & red onion.

Did you know that “pickle” is derived from the Dutch word pekel, meaning brine? Betcha didn’t. But now you do!

Any who, I found this beautiful pickle recipe at Honey & Jam. The photos were so lovely, I knew I’d have to replicate it myself. My mother is a fan of sweet pickles; give her a jar of sweet gherkins & she’ll eat the whole thing. So I thought she’d appreciate these, lovely little quick pickles made with sugar, a stick of cinnamon & some cloves. The fact that they’re quick pickles, or refrigerator pickles, makes life easier. I love canning but on a super hot day it’s nice to just slap things in the fridge & not worry about processing.

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Kosher dills, TAKE TWO!

Retro 1957 Heinz Kosher dill pickle ad.

Uhm, I beg to differ, Heinz. ‘Cause these pickles right here are quite the sensation round my way.

You might remember, if you’re a longtime reader, the Kosher dill pickles I made a few years ago from a recipe by Arthur Schwartz (I guess you realize right about now that “take two” means this is my second time making them, not that I want you to take two of them. Heh.).

I made them the first time two summers ago while Jay was away on tour, and when he came home he flipped. He totally loved them, was obsessed in fact. And yes, he said they were his “favorite pickles” (until he tasted the grilled pickles, the hop pickles, the maple whiskey pickles…etc, etc). I tease him about that a lot. But I do know that despite the fact that he might love all kinds of pickles, Kosher dills are his absolute favorite. The less vinegar, the better. No vinegar at all? Perfect!

Arthur Schwartz's Kosher dill recipe.

They taste just like a deli pickle, apparently. Super crunchy & half-sour, like a “new” dill. He’s been asking me to make them again ever since, & I’ve slacked off.

Yeah, I’m horrible. But he’ll get over it- he gets a lot of treats.

So anyway here’s version two of Arthur’s recipe, adapted for a smaller scale (yields 1 quart as opposed to 3). Pro tip: Make sure you get cucumbers that are all the same size & shape, roughly. They’ll ferment at the same time more than a variety of sizes would. Unless you’re going to cut them into slices or “chips”, that is.

Kosher dill pickle recipe, 3-6 days to ferment.

How to make Kosher dill pickles at home! NO CANNING NEEDED!

This recipe makes some beautiful pickles.

ARTHUR SCHWARTZ’S HOMEMADE KOSHER DILL* PICKLES (Adapted by David Leibovitz from Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking)

Makes 1 quart or 2 pints, can be doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse white salt (Kosher, if available)
  • 5-7 Kirby cucumbers, scrubbed
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled and lightly-crushed
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons pickling spice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small bunch of dill, preferably going to seed, washed

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil with the salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the remaining water.
  2. Prepare jars (1 quart or 2 pint jars, preferably wide mouth) by running them through the dishwasher or filling them with boiling water, then dumping it out.
  3. Pack the cucumbers vertically into the jars, making sure they’re tightly-packed. As you fill the jars, divide the garlic, spices, bay leaves, and dill amongst them. You can also slice the cukes into spears or slices, whatever you prefer.
  4. Fill the jars with brine so that the cucumbers are completely covered. Cover the jars with cheesecloth, secured with rubber bands, or loosely with the lids. Store in a cool, dark place for 3 days. You’ll probably have leftover brine, so either make another batch or just toss it… yes it’s a little wasteful, but it’s just saltwater!
  5. After 3 days, taste one. The pickles can ferment from 3 to 6 days. The longer the fermentation, the more sour they’ll become, however whole cucumbers that aren’t sliced at all might take longer in general. Once the pickles are to your liking, refrigerate them.

Easy Kosher dill pickle recipe- no canning required.

*Just to clear this Kosher thing up:

A “kosher” dill pickle is not necessarily kosher in the sense that it has been prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law. Rather, it is a pickle made in the traditional manner of Jewish New York City pickle makers, with generous addition of garlic and dill to a natural salt brine.[3][4][5]

In New York terminology, a “full-sour” kosher dill is one that has fully fermented, while a “half-sour,” given a shorter stay in the brine, is still crisp and bright green.[6]Elsewhere, these pickles may sometimes be termed “old” and “new” dills.

Dill pickles (not necessarily described as “kosher”) have been served in New York City since at least 1899.[7] They are not, however, native to New York; they have been prepared in Russia, Ukraine, Germany and Poland for hundreds of years.[citation needed]

So these are kind of a cross between a refrigerator pickle, a fermented pickle & a shelf-stable pickle, seeing as how you end up refrigerating them & not processing them, yet they do in fact sit out for a while to “ferment.” They’re incredibly easy to make, and they really don’t have any of the somewhat “scary” elements of fermentation/lacto-fermentation (no yeast forms, there’s no mold skimming, etc). It’s sort of an intro to refrigerator pickles, canning & fermenting all at once.

I do prefer to make these kinds of pickles one jar at a time, just because I run out of room & places to hide them during their 3-6 day fermentation period. It has to be a relatively cool, dark area… and there are only so many of those during the summer months. Plus, that cuts down on the amount of “NO NO NO! DON’T EAT THOSE YET!” moments. Which, in a house like mine, there are many. There are jars of things brewing, freezing or sitting just about everywhere; sourdough starters, cold brewed coffee, bacon fat, flax seed, spent grain, fermenting pickles… all of these things somewhere, whether in the fridge, freezer or counter.

Arthur Schwartz's easy Kosher dill pickle recipe.

They will get cloudy after a day or two, that’s perfectly normal. And yes, I recommend wide mouth jars for this particular recipe. Especially if you’re making whole pickles, not sliced. AND DO NOT USE LARGE WAXED CUCUMBERS FOR THIS. It just will not work well. The wax prevents anything from penetrating the cucumber, and even if you slice them the skin will still be waxy & weird. You can quadruple this recipe and make one gallon as well, if you enjoy pickles that much. I actually just invested in some half-gallon Ball® jars (mainly for making cold brewed & sun tea) & I also noticed that my dill is growing like crazy… so perhaps Jay has a full half-gallon of Kosher dills in his future!

I don’t know how often I have to keep saying this, but: ANYONE can make these! They’re insanely simple! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t try making them.

Unless you don’t like pickles. In which case, can I interest you in a cake?

Tart & tangy lemon garlic tarragon pickles.

Happy Friday, folks. You might notice things look different around here; new images, etc. I’m in the (very slow) process of doing a full redesign- so if things look odd, for example if font sizes aren’t looking right, or images look bizarre, just bear with me. I like doing these things at 3:30 in the morning so there’s a chance things aren’t quite as they should be. In the meantime… any issues that may pop up are purely cosmetic. Everything is working, the recipe index is totally functional, as are the archives, categories & search features. And the recipes continue!

Finding new blogs to read that capture and actually hold my interest is something else I like doing at 2 or 3 in the morning. Jay gets home at around 2:30-3:00 a.m. and I usually wait up for him, so while I’m waiting if there’s nothing else to do, i.e. no movies/TV shows to watch, laundry to fold, blog posts to write/blog maintenance to take care of, e-mails to read or return, design work to be done, etc. If there’s none of that, I tuck into bed on the ol’ Macbook, maybe with some tunes, & look up new blogs. Sometimes, there are awful blogs. Really awful. Either they’re just poorly written, bad grammatically, uninteresting or they have such bad design I can’t even figure out what I’m looking at. As a matter of fact, I truly don’t even think most people know how many horrible blogs there are on the internet. I’d estimate the number at, oh… A LOT.

But other times I find a real diamond in the rough. Hidden internet gems that I’ve never seen or heard of before, just waiting there for me to find them. And I do. If you’re out there, & you’ve got a killer blog… I’ll find you. *cue this song* And when I find you, I spend what seems like hours scrolling through & going back through the archives like a web stalker. Is that creepy? Or is that totally normal?

Anyway.. how I find most of them are via links on other blogs, on Facebook, sometimes on Twitter, but most often via Pinterest photos, which is where I found the blog I’m ripping off this pickle recipe from.

Lemon garlic tarragon pickles. No canning required!

I first saw the photo for these pickles on Pinterest, and when I clicked through I saw the blog’s name was Pork n Whisk(e)y. How could I NOT love a blog with that name?! Come on now. Not to mention I clicked around & saw things like preserved oranges, ale mustard, bourbon sour cherry dark chocolate brownies, etc. I was hooked. I just love me a good blog, especially a good food blog.

When it comes to a food blog, the recipes are what pulls me in. But add some good photography & a clever name? I’m sold.

So then I make something from said blog, because you know something else I like to do at 2 a.m.? Make food. Since I had originally stumbled upon the lemon garlic tarragon pickles, that’s what I decided on making. It sounded different and it just so happens that in my jar stash, I had TWO quart jars left…

Tarragon is one of the four fines herbes of French cooking, and is particularly suitable for chicken, fish and egg dishes. Tarragon is the main flavoring component ofBéarnaise sauce. Fresh, lightly bruised sprigs of tarragon are steeped in vinegar to produce tarragon vinegar.

Tarragon is used to flavor a popular carbonated soft drink in the countries of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and, by extension, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. The drink, named Tarhun (Armenian pronunciation: [tɑɾˈxun] Тархун), is made out of sugary tarragon concentrate and colored bright green.

In Slovenia, tarragon is used as a spice for a traditional sweet cake called potica. In Hungary a popular kind of chicken soup is flavored with tarragon.

cis-Pellitorin, an isobutyramide eliciting a pungent taste, has been isolated from Tarragon plant.[5]

-Wikipedia

Tarragon is one of those herbs that isn’t for everyone. It has a faint licorice or anise-y flavor, but it’s also vaguely peppery. Very French, very summery, very fresh, very unique. Which means this is definitely not your every day ordinary dill pickle. But then again, when do I ever make those? I make pickles with beer & whiskey for crying out loud.

Quick & easy lemon garlic tarragon pickles. No canning required.Wow.. I cut some of those bad boys a bit unevenly didn’t I?

LEMON GARLIC TARRAGON PICKLES (from Pork n Whisk(e)y)

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 Kirby or other pickling cucumbers
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 5-6 tarragon sprigs
  • 1 1/2 cup distilled 5% white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Wash & cut the cucumbers into quarters, lengthwise, trimming off the blossom end (if kept on, it makes for mushy pickles). Place the cucumbers, lemon zest and tarragon into a quart jar that’s been sterilized.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the lemon juice, water, garlic and vinegar over medium-high heat to a simmer. Then add salt, peppercorns and sugar. Stir to dissolve.
  3. Pour lemon juice mixture over cucumbers and tarragon in the jar. Let cool loosely covered until near room temperature.
  4. Seal and place in refrigerator. Keeps for at least 3 weeks, however they’ll probably be okay far longer.

Quick, simple, refreshing & easy. Still tart & sour, but in a very different way than your average, everyday pickle. My mother says they’re great with cream cheese (!). Seriously. I don’t know about that but she swears by it. And the best part (for most of you)… no canning required! Although if you wanted to, you could certainly make these shelf-stable; it seems to me that there’s plenty of vinegar in the recipe to do so. And if I’m wrong (because I’m no Master Preserver), it shouldn’t be too hard to tweak it.

If you’re looking for other pickle recipes to create this summer, I have a ton. Take a look at the pickling/pickles categories & take your pick (pun intended). Happy June.

Lemon garlic tarragon pickles.

And in case you’re wondering, some other recent blog discoveries of mine (that have become instant favorites) include Skunkboy, Headed Out West, The Militant Baker, Farmette, Spoon Fork Bacon, {local milk}, Cook Republic & Tartlet Sweets.

Maple-whiskey pickles; version 2.0.

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.

Seriously.

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.

Maple Whiskey pickles made with Cabin Fever whiskey!

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*

Maple whiskey pickle prep

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.

Cabin Fever maple whiskey pickles

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Maple whiskey pickle jar... ready for cucumbers & brine!

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.

Maple whiskey pickles!

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.

Pickles made with Cabin Fever maple whiskey! on Punk Domestics

Quick & dirty chive vinegar pickles.

Oh, pickles.

You come into my life oh so quickly this time of year… and get eaten up oh so quickly. And then I’m hounded for more pickles by the pickle monsters that plague my existence. Good thing I love them. And that I’ve got plenty of jars to fill.

;
Yeah, I’ve got a lot. That’s just the tip of the iceberg- there’s a load of stuff in my fridge that needs to be cleaned out and those jars will soon join these in awaiting their new fates. Remember my chive blossom vinegar? And the ensuing chive blossom potato salad & egg salad? Well, I knew I wasn’t finished with that vinegar. I had more ideas bubbling in my brain and this was one of them. I figured, why not try making pickles with it?

And I decided on making cold-pack refrigerator pickles. I’ve been on a pickle kick lately. And most of them have been fridge pickles, I guess ’cause it’s so hot it’s just easier.

;
;When I say ‘quick & dirty’ in the title, I don’t mean they’re literally dirty, obviously. No olives in this martini. They’re just really quick to make, no processing time required. They do need a week or two to stew in the fridge before they can be eaten, however. But it’s a small price to pay for homemade pickles without the “canning.” Here’s my favorite quick version from The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. It’s fun and easy and you can pickle just about anything this way.

;

Some ideas for fridge pickles? Zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, okra, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans, garlic, etc… or a mix of all of the above!

;

And you can use any jar you want for fridge pickles. An old spaghetti sauce jar works just fine.

REFRIGERATOR CHIVE BLOSSOM VINEGAR PICKLES (adapted from The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking’s refrigerator pickles)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chive blossom vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar, 5% acidity
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher or non-iodized salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of picking spice, dill seed, mustard seed
  • 2 pieces fresh dill (if using, use less dill seed, about half)
  • Cucumbers; as far as the amount you’ll need, I used about 2 and a half smallish/thinnish cukes for one pint jar… but she says:

Wash and cut up your vegetables and pack them into a clean jar.

The weight of your starting produce will vary depending on what you’re pickling. Eyeball it at the market, and if you end up with too little veg, just use a smaller jar (or make more brine to account for extra space in the jar).

Directions:

  1. Boil the vinegar, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, put your dry spices in the dry jars, and then pack your veggies in the jars. If you prefer a less raw taste, you can blanch them first or even cook them in the brine.
  2. Pour your just-boiled brine over the veggies in the jars. Wipe the mouths clean and seal.
  3. DON’T SEAL TIGHTLY. And I quote: “Don’t screw on the lid on as tightly as you possibly can or the lid might pop off when you go to open them in a couple weeks. Vinegar breaking down the veggies inside a jar causes a little release of gas, and leaving the lid loose will let that escape. [I know what you’re wondering and the answer is no. If your pickles have been stored in the fridge, it’s not possible for botulism spores to activate.]“
  4. Put them in the back of your fridge and forget about them for at least a week. “Two weeks is better, three is the best” according to her. They keep indefinitely, but if you’ve got some sitting around more than 6 months, I’d ditch ‘em.

;

That beautifully colored tangy vinegar is going to make a chive-y, dill-y, super tangy pickle. A perfect compliment to potato salad or grilled stuff; burgers & hot dogs, etc. If you prefer a less chive-y flavor, or should I say, a more subtle one, then just change the ratio from 1/2-1/2 to 1/4-3/4 in favor of the white vinegar. But make sure you use half water, half vinegar and the full tablespoon salt. Any vinegar is fine to use as long as it’s 5% acidity. Red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or just plain old white vinegar.

I have to say I was surprised it wasn’t slightly more pink in the jar, as when it was boiling up it was a pale pink. Hm. I’m half tempted to just use 100% chive vinegar next time just to get pink pickles!

;

In case you’re wondering, you can pickle anything this way: cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, peppers, etc. I have a bit more information on refrigerator pickles here. If you don’t have the equipment to do actual canning, refrigerator pickles & refrigerator jams are the way to go, as are freezer jams. You can make amazing stuff that way. Sure, it’s not shelf-stable and you need to put it in the fridge/freezer right away, but it’s a good way to get started. That way you can see if canning is for you. If you decide you want to explore canning further, you need a decent amount of background information and some important materials. A great place to get started is the USDA National Center for Home Preservation.

And speaking of canning, in a few days- on August 21st most likely- I’ll be blogging about the very basics of waterbath canning, I’m calling it “Canning for Dummies” to be exact. So if you’re interested in getting involved in basic canning, keep an eye out for that post. Not that you’re a dummy or anything. I’m just saying.

Asian-inspired quick pickles.

My grandmother had a thing for all things Asian. She was totally immersed in the culture. She read Pearl S. Buck books over & over again (The Good Earth being a favorite), collected cloisonné ginger jars & imported Japanese figurines, had a large Buddha statue sitting cross-legged in meditation pose next to her couch, had porcelain Geisha girl lamps and even had a mural of a bonsai tree on her living room wall. And all that is just the tip of the iceberg. She had tons of hand-held fans with Oriental scenes on them. She loved movies like Raise the Red Lantern & The Last Emperor. She loved jade. She loved Asian food, Asian history, Asian-inspired scents, Asian clothes; Cheongsams & kimono robes. She was a major Asiaphile, which I always thought was funny for a little red-headed Irish woman from the Bronx. But it just fascinated her, that’s all.


So, you can see why recipes like this immediately make me think of her, and how much she’d love it.

This is a kind of Frankenstein pickle recipe. Meaning that I got the idea from two sources: Food in Jars’ Asian-Inspired Refrigerator Pickles and The Foodinista‘s posting of Momofuku Pickles and morphed the two into my own version of an Asian pickle. Both pickles are refrigerator pickles, meaning there’s no canning involved. Both pickles also use rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar (as far as I’m concerned, both are interchangeable). One uses hot peppers & some herbs, the other is just straight forward. I like a little added oomph in my life, so I decided to do the herb thing as well. I thought cilantro sounded fantastic; I made some green coriander pickles last summer that Jay would’ve definitely, without question, defended to the death had they been threatened in any way. So yeah, I knew cilantro was the herb of choice for me, although Marisa says you can also use mint instead, as well as use green onions or scallions in place of shallots. You can also totally omit all the extras and make it with just cucumbers/vinegar/sugar/salt if you wish.

These photos were taken after they sat in the fridge overnight. Feel free to cut your cukes thinner, if you want to use them as more of a condiment.



ASIAN-INSPIRED PICKLES

Makes roughly two pints or one quart

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 smallish pickling cucumbers, cut into slices
  • 1 chili pepper, thinly sliced, or a 1 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes (optional, I left them out)
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 small shallot, cut into thin slices
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
  • 4-5 sprigs of cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

Directions:

  1. Pack the cukes into the clean jar. Stuff the pepper in there too, or sprinkle the pepper flakes in on top.
  2. In a glass bowl, mix the rice vinegar, shallot, garlic, cilantro, salt and lime juice together. Pour the boiling water over it, and stir. Pour into the jar, and using a butter knife, poke the garlic/shallot/cilantro down amongst the cukes as well as you can.
  3. Screw a lid on the jar as tightly as you can, and give it a good shake or two to distribute things. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours to marinate before eating, toss after a month.

It’s a lovely, bright, crisp pickle. Very summery. Like I said, I omitted the pepper, but because it’s a fridge pickle, if you decide it’s too bland for you without the heat- you can always add a sliced up pepper. Then just put it back in the fridge and let it sit another 24 hours. Which is exactly what I did! Haha. Turns out, it needed a bit of a kick. So I had two red jalapeños left over from some other kitchen wizardry, and I took one, seeded it & removed the ribs/inner membrane, sliced it up into very thin slices and tucked them in the jar. If sliced thin enough one jalapeño is enough for three pint jars.



Just be sure to wear gloves when cutting hot peppers. It may sound silly, but bad reactions are common… some people can develop blisters and burns from even the mildest hot pepper, and even if you don’t, in the best case scenario the pepper oil will stay under your fingernails & in your skin for a while, causing issues when you rub your eyes or use the bathroom later on. Red jalapeños are slightly hotter than green ones, but also sweeter, just so you know. I’m aware that the jalapeño is not an Asian pepper, but you use what you’ve got, right? If you can get your hands on a Thai Chili pepper or a Goat Horn, then good for you. Otherwise, use what you have.

If you’ve got a rice vinegar that’s 5% acidity, you can most certainly change these to a be a shelf-stable, waterbath-process friendly pickle. My vinegar was only around 4.3% so I left them as fridge pickles. And did you notice these awesome jars!? I finally found them! The elusive Ball Collection Elite® 16-oz. jars. *siiiiiigh* And of all places, I found them in a Target. GO FIGURE. Not my Target, of course, but a Target like 5 towns away. After a year and a half of searching, they’re finally mine.

Hop pickles!

What with this being Can-It-Forward Day, it’s pretty much mandatory I post something canning-related. I know I mentioned it before, briefly, in a previous post. Can-It-Forward Day is, and I quote:

National Can-It-Forward Day lets everyone share the joy of fresh preserving. If you love garden fresh produce, we would love to show you how easy it is to preserve it to enjoy throughout the year. Whether you’re new to canning or are a Master Canner, we have recipes, tips and tricks to help make fresh preserving easy and fun!

Set aside some time to learn simple ways to preserve the fresh food you love and share your canning knowledge with friends and family. Whether you watch us on-line, host a home canning party or join us in person, we hope you’ll share your stories. Like us on Facebook then post your Can-It-Forward Day stories and photos on our page and in your status updates. And, join the conversation on Twitter with #CanItForward. No matter how you participate, we want you to enjoy fresh preserving and Can-It-Forward Day.

So consider this post my encouragement for you to get canning. As it goes, I’ve had some pint jars laying around just waiting to be filled. I decided to use up two of ‘em to make some pickles, beer pickles, to be precise. And yes you read that correctly: beer pickles. Or Hop-pickles!

If you remember, back in March, I recreated two of Brooklyn Brine Co.‘s most unique & awesome pickles: the Maple Bourbon pickles and the Spicy Maple Bourbon pickles. They were massively popular, both Jay & his dad are big fans. As if those bourbon pickles weren’t cool enough… Brooklyn Brine recently paired up with Dogfish Head Ale to make what they dub “the Hop-Pickle.” It’s essentially pickles made with Dogfish Head’s 60-minute IPA.

I know. More geniusness from Brooklyn Brine! Now, in my research, I saw that the actual Brooklyn Brine version there’s not only IPA, but Cascade “hop oil.” I could’ve done that too. The website sells it, so I could’ve bought my own, yes, but instead I chose not to. I decided to just go with the beer & see if I could achieve a good flavor without the oil. My first idea was to do the same thing that I did with the bourbon- just add it to the jars, then pour in the hot brine. But then I did some more investigative reporting and saw that they add the beer to the brine itself. Hm. Interesting.

So that’s what I did. I created a brine, packed my jars with cucumbers & spices, and then added the beer to the brine once it was boiled. Then I poured the hot beer brine into the jars.

And after that I was pretty much done!

I also didn’t use Dogfish Head IPA, instead I used Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA. Samuel Adams is my favorite beer, actually. The Summer Ale & Noble Pils are to die for in the spring/summer, and I can’t let a winter go by without the Cream Stout, Chocolate Bock or Winter Lager. I never met a bottle of Sam I didn’t like (except that Cranberry Lambic- that wasn’t a hit around here). Besides, I made these on the 4th of July so what better beer to use than a Sam Adams? Anyway, as far as the IPA goes, according to the Samuel Adams website:

Samuel Adams® Latitude 48 IPA is a unique IPA brewed with a select blend of hops from top German, English, and American growing regions all located close to the 48th latitude within the “hop belt” of the Northern Hemisphere. The combination of hops in this beer creates a distinctive but not overpowering hop character. The beer is dry hopped with Ahtanum, Simcoe®*, and East Kent Goldings hops for a powerful citrus and earthy aroma. The hop character is balanced by a slight sweetness and full body from the malt blend.

Sounds pretty good to me. It’s a nice tasting beer (I’m not really an IPA fan for the most part) so I figured, why wouldn’t it make nice tasting beer pickles? It’s a different kind of IPA than Dogfish Head’s, but I didn’t really want to make these too much like Brooklyn Brine’s pickles. They just inspired me, and the Sam Adams one is what I had on hand. If you like a different IPA- try it. Bluepoint, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Smuttynose, Lagunitas, Anchor… whatever. What’s the worst that can happen? They taste horrible? I doubt it. Beer + pickles pretty much = awesome. Just like the bourbon + pickles = awesome.

I made one jar pickle chips, and the other spears. I like to do that when creating a new pickle recipe so I can see which one is a better cut for that flavor. Some pickles scream to be put on sandwiches, others are just for a side dish or snacking.


Basically I used a regular, basic pickle recipe and added a bottle of beer to the brine once it was boiled. If you want to make it more like Brooklyn Brine’s, then add some caramelized onions & a bit of sliced up chili pepper to the cukes when you pack the jars. I didn’t do either of those things, mainly due to availability. I had onions, I just didn’t feel like caramelizing them, and I didn’t have any chili peppers around. I’m adding them into the recipe, you can do as you like.

MARILLA’S HOP-PICKLES MADE WITH IPA

Makes about 4 pints

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 cups white vinegar, 5%
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill, 4 dill heads or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice (divided into fourths)
  • a little sprinkle of mustard seed per jar
  • half of a medium sized white onion, caramelized (done beforehand, allowed to cool & patted “dry”)
  • 1 chili pepper, seeded & sliced
  • a dash of cumin seeds
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, each cut in half
  • 1 bottle Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA (or the IPA of your choice)

Directions:

  1. 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. Place jars in canner to sterilize them and place lids in hot water to soften seal. Keep jars hot.
  2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the bottle of beer (you will end up with leftover brine, it’s almost certain).
  3. Remove hot jars from canner. Divide the fresh dill or 1 tsp dill seeds, 1/4 teaspoon pickling spice, chili peppers, cumin seeds, onions and garlic among the jars (they should be still hot); pack in cucumbers.
  4. Pour the hot beer brine mixture over cucumbers to within ½ 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! If sealed, allow jars to sit for one week before opening for optimal flavor.

Before anyone gets on my ass, no I didn’t process them. I figured the salt & vinegar was enough to ensure safety, not to mention the fact that I had a feeling they’d be opened & eaten fairly quickly. If you want to process them, then go right ahead. An experienced canner should know exactly how long, etc (as a general rule it’s 10 minutes for pint jars, 15 for quart). However there are a lot of pickle recipes (like this one) that don’t require processing, the lids seal as soon as the liquid/jars cool. I’ve never had a problem with doing pickles this way now & then, but obviously you need to make sure all of your produce is 100% clean and that your equipment is 100% sterilized, and that you’re using white vinegar with 5% acidity. Yes, yes, yes, I know the USDA would have my head for that. But whatever. I’m nothing if not a rebel.

And of course… I get a little creative sometimes with the labels. Heh.

Now I’ll sit back, let my dad & Jay (well when he comes back from Ohio/Illinois, anyway) enjoy their new batch of pickles, and wait to see what other genius pickles Brooklyn Brine Co. will come up with. Then I’ll see if I can match their genius (again) myself. In the meantime- go explore canning! It’s easy, fun, useful, constructive and it’s pretty much a cheap thrill. Here are some excellent canning resources:

Latitude 48 IPA Pickles! on Punk Domestics

Red onion revolution.


Happy July! I guess summer is officially in full swing, right? Summer is the time for fresh everything. Fresh veggies, fresh fruit, fresh herbs. And obviously, taking advantage of having those fresh herbs around is a must. So I try and use my fresh dill (see above) for pickles rather than dill seed as much as I can. ‘Cause before you know it, it’ll be fall and then winter again, and this will all be a memory. And because it’s summer, it’s also pickling time. Which means that anything and everything is in danger of being pickled.

So watch your back around me. You might end up in a mason jar, like this red onion.

Yup. Pickled red onions. Another stupid easy refrigerator pickle recipe that takes about 10 minutes to make and that looks absolutely gorgeous. I found the recipe on Punk Domestics, so big thanks to them & Comfy Cuisine for making the burgers & hot dogs at my day-after-father’s-day barbecue extra awesome. Yep- that’s right- these pickled onions are excellent on hot dogs, too. And sandwiches. AND THEY’RE SO EASY TO MAKE.

Fridge pickles were my foray into the world of canning. Just last year around this time, I ordered a canning kit and as it was on it’s way, I made some jars of refrigerator pickles. Just to get a feel for it. It was so fun and easy, I knew I wanted to keep doing it. So I made some rhubarb ‘fridge jam. The cool thing is that you can use any kind of jar for refrigerator pickles (and refrigerator jam). An old spaghetti sauce jar, an old pickle jar, an old glass mayo or peanut butter jar, a decorative jar, basically anything that’s food safe. But it doesn’t have to be a canning jar!

I actually got the jars I used for the onions (and the pickles below) at a local dollar store. The name is ‘Frutta Delprato’; I had never heard of them (a simple Google told me they’re available in NZ and AUS- weird!), they had a gold tone one-piece screw-on lid, and it didn’t seem canning-safe or as reliably made as a Ball jar, so I got a few to just use for quick fridge pickles and fridge jam. And of course for storage. It’s always good to have extra jars lying around, especially for excess pastas, grains, rice, nuts, granola, etc. Just be sure to always sanitize them. I know it sounds really obvious, but it’s a must for any food storage container, especially when making pickles or jams. Thoroughly wash both the jar and the lid in very hot sudsy water and rinse before using. I should really thank the canning boom & this whole Pinterest mason jar craze for making this stuff so freakin’ popular & readily available. I plan on going back to that dollar store and stocking up on some more of these jars.

You can get jars in many shapes and sizes: Leifheit jars, Quattro Stagioni, Le Parfait or these pretty Bormioli Rocco jars are all excellent ideas for storage or refrigerator pickles. Of course you can use your canning jars too, but I find that I’d rather use a separate jar and save the canning safe ones for actual canning. Although apparently Quattro Stagioni can be used for actual canning too, I can’t personally vouch.

PATTI’S PICKLED ONIONS (adapted from Comfy Cuisine to make one half-pint)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced thinly

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add sliced onion and blanch for 1 minute. Drain.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring brine ingredients to a full boil. Add drained onions and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Let cool and pack into pint jar.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.

And that’s it. Seriously. You’re done.

The only thing is… you might have bought an extra red onion or two. Or maybe not all of your red onion would fit in one jar. And maybe you also have some extra brine. That means you’ll want to make something else to use those up. So you might want to make some red onion refrigerator pickles.


Pickles, pickles, everywhere. Wow, look at this: a two for one recipe post today! You guys are so lucky. I hadn’t made pickles with red onions before, just white onions. Now I’m wondering why I never did! It seems kinda obvious now that I think about it. It might be because I have mostly white onions in the house, and when I have a red onion I use it for salad (I adore red onions in a nice crisp salad with blue cheese dressing!).

REFRIGERATOR PICKLES WITH RED WINE VINEGAR & RED ONION

Makes about one pint (16-oz.) jar

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium pickling cucumbers, or one large cucumber (unwaxed), sliced
  • 3-4 sliced red onion “rings”
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher or pickling salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed slightly
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill (or 1/4 teaspoon dill seed)

Directions:

  1. Boil the vinegar, water, pickling spice and salt in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, put your garlic and red onion in the jar, and then pack your veggies in the jars. If you prefer a less raw taste, you can blanch them first or even cook them in the brine. They’ll stay crisper if you don’t, however, and that’s how we like ‘em here: crisp.
  2. Pour your just-boiled brine over the veggies in the jars. Wipe the mouths clean and seal. Don’t seal too tight or the lids will explode when you open it from the building of gases as it ferments.
  3. Let them sit in the fridge for one to three weeks before eating. The longer they sit, the stronger the flavor.

I really like the way the red onion looks in the jars, don’t you? It’s pretty.

So it took me like, I don’t know, a half hour tops to make both of these. Probably less. Don’t tell me you don’t have time for this stuff, ’cause that’s a bunch of crap. Anyone who says they don’t have time to cook, or bake, or make things is a freakin’ lunatic liar. I swear. And you can hate me for saying this but it’s true. Not everything takes a long time- you’re probably just lazy.

But that’s okay. Save the awesomeness for people like me.

And speaking of awesomeness, this year’s Can-It-Forward Day is July 14th. Don’t forget to get involved. Here’s a little info and background from FreshPreserving.com:

National Can-It-Forward Day

Join National Can-It-Forward Day on Saturday, July 14, 2012!

National Can-It-Forward Day lets everyone share the joy of fresh preserving. If you love garden fresh produce, we would love to show you how easy it is to preserve it to enjoy throughout the year. Whether you’re new to canning or are a Master Canner, we have recipes, tips and tricks to help make fresh preserving easy and fun!

This year the National Can It Forward Day will originate from Minnetrista a cultural center in East Central Indiana, and the original home of the Ball Brothers. On Saturday, July 14th, Jarden Home Brands, the makers of Ball® brand fresh preserving products, and the Minnetrista Master Preservers will demonstrate just how easy it is to preserve fresh produce for delicious results. And, chefs from the American Culinary Federation will share their recipes using these preserved products. New and exciting this year is the Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker. Watch as it transforms fresh fruit, sugar and pectin into mouthwatering homemade jam. This small kitchen appliance allows you to enjoy homemade jam or jelly in just 30 minutes. It uses SmartStir™ Technology to automatically and consistently stir your jam or jelly while it cooks. You don’t have any guesswork and you don’t stand over a hot stove – you just set it and go! Who ever dreamed delicious could be this easy?

Set aside some time to learn simple ways to preserve the fresh food you love and share your canning knowledge with friends and family. Whether you watch us on-line, host a home canning party or join us in person, we hope you’ll share your stories. Like us on Facebook then post your Can-It-Forward Day stories and photos on our page and in your status updates. And, join the conversation on Twitter with #CanItForward. No matter how you participate, we want you to enjoy fresh preserving and Can-It-Forward Day.

It’s a great way to start canning, if you’re new to it. There will be video demonstrations and all kinds of fun stuff. Plus, there are downloadable jar labels, and a list of amazing nationwide Farmer’s markets that are participating in the 2012 Discover You Can program℠. So get on it! The Fresh Preserving website has tons of info for you. Canning isn’t something to be scared of, it’s totally fun… so get yourself some jars, some equipment & some fruits & veggies and start preserving. Shit. Making something new is so awesome & empowering, even if it’s just pickles. Stop being afraid of new things. If you take just one thing away from this blog, make it that. Alright… enough preaching for today.

And if you’re not into preserving, but you’re into baking, and you’re also into small kitchen appliances & KitchenAid.. then you’ll like this news. It’s somewhat exciting. I was asked by MarketVine (a Dell company) to create a little mini-store filled with a select amount of my favorite KitchenAid items. It’s right here on the website, and of course, you can always buy other things that aren’t in my store, since all of the items are sold via KitchenAid.com! There are great prices on there, and also some great refurbished items available for a low price. The store can be accessed by all pages on the blog just by clicking the banner up at the top- you see it? The one that says “My Favorite KitchenAid Things”? Yep. That one. Just click it and you’ll be transported to my little store where you can shop till your hearts content. You all know how much I love KitchenAid, and Lola, and so this is very exciting for me. If you’ve always wanted your own Lola… then go get one!

“Bartender, I’ll have a pickleback.”

**ATTENTION! ATTENTION! In April 2013, I did a redo of the maple-bourbon pickles in this post, version 2.0 if you will, made with Cabin Fever maple blended whiskey. This wonderful recipe can be found here: maple-whiskey pickles, version 2.0, so check it out!**

I haven’t made pickles since September. Probably because cucumbers are no longer “in season”; meaning I can still get them, but they’re far from the best quality. They’re somewhat wonky-looking for the most part. But of course, I can pick a pickle pretty good, so I decided instead of waiting for cucumber season I just went for it & picked the best damn cucumbers I could out of the offerings at the store. Why? Because I wanted to make some of these.

Bourbon pickles & 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.

That is not actually Brooklyn, it’s San Antonio. Whatever.

I mean, dude up there just got back from the Netherlands where he performed with Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, Napalm Death & a ton of other famous metal bands. Crazy, right?

So yeah. I had to make him something special, & this is something special. Like I said, its one rock star pickle. Not to mention the fact that it includes whiskey makes it appropriate for St. Patty’s Day too. I mean, pickles are green, whiskey reminds me of being Irish (Irish whiskey, Irish coffee, hello?) and that’s enough for me. 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). 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. See, I’m not a whiskey girl. All I know about it is that if I’m forced to drink it in any capacity & I’m given a choice… I’ll take Jameson over Jack any damn day of the week. But other than that forget it. I’m lost. Whiskey, Rye, Bourbon, it’s all Greek to me. So I asked Jay what to use in these & he gave me a bottle of Blanton’s to use. It’s not a super high-end bourbon, yet it’s not the cheapest, so the flavor is decent. You don’t want to use cheap stuff for this, it might sounds obvious but really… the flavor is going to dictate the pickles so please don’t use gasoline-tasting whiskey just to save money. Use one that actually can be enjoyed on it’s own.

New York & pickles are synonymous it seems, especially to New Yorkers. So therefore Brooklyn has quite a history with pickles. I love Brooklyn. I spend some of my spare time looking at gorgeous pre-war apartments (that I’ll probably never actually move into) with exposed brick in Brooklyn (along with many other places like the Upper & Lower East Side, etc). I think Brooklyn is amazing (for the most part, there are a lot of shitty things about it too). I love the Brooklyn Bowl, I love the Brooklyn Brewery & I love Radegast Hall. I’ve never been to the St. Vitus Bar but from what I heard it’s sweet, I have been to Duff’s though (not impressed- seeing that “metal” chick from Fuse dancing on tables in a corset isn’t my idea of fun). And now there’s Brooklyn Brine Co. And the thing I like about Brooklyn Brine Co. is that they’re making interesting things like this & lavender asparagus, chipotle carrots & fennel beets. Not to mention their maple bourbon bread & butter pickles. Yeah, I know. Needless to say those were on Jay’s list too, so I had to make them as well (keep reading for that). So yes, I dig what they’re doing over there. But I’m confident enough that I can do it too; and not have to buy theirs.

MARILLA’S “PICKLEBACK” WHISKEY-BRINE PICKLES

Makes about 4 pints

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 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!)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 4 heads fresh dill or 4 heaping teaspoons dill seeds
  • 2 teaspoons pickling spice
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • a dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes or one Serrano chili pepper, finely diced
  • dash of chili powder (optional)
  • 4 small cloves garlic

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove hot jars from canner. Pour ⅛ cup whiskey or bourbon in each jar. Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 heaping teaspoon dill seeds, ½ teaspoon pickling spice, the mustard seed, black pepper, hot pepper flakes and 1 smashed clove of garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers tightly.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

The color changes after the processing in the water bath. Ever notice that about pickles? That they’re usually a darker army-green in the jar, whereas Kosher dills stay brighter? That all has to do with fermenting vs. processing, and the vinegar brine vs. a salty water brine. End of today’s lesson.

Because of the apple cider vinegar & whiskey, they should be a bit on the sweeter side, but not too sweet. The white vinegar, garlic, peppers & salt would make up for it. I made this recipe up based on the ingredients the Brooklyn Brine Co. lists as being in their Whiskey Sour pickles, so I am in no way saying it’s the same exact flavor or pickle- especially since I didn’t use the same type of peppers or the same brand of whiskey (they use Finger Lakes Distilling McKenzie Rye Whiskey). This is just my version of it. That said, they do sell a pickling kit, however I do not think it’s for their Whiskey pickles, unless they include a recipe for it in the recipe packet.

As far as the maple bourbon pickles, I just used the same recipe as above, but I added caramelized onions, ⅛ cup good quality maple syrup (added with the whiskey) and omitted the hot pepper. I also cut the cukes into “chips” with a crinkled cutter instead of making spears. I also couldn’t find decent Kirby’s so I used small “snacking” cucumbers, which are longer & thinner than Kirby’s, hence the tiny little chips I got. I also added some caramelized onions to the regular bourbon pickles, because I made more than I needed for just one jar.

As soon as these babies are opened & Jay gives me his expert opinion, I’ll come back & edit this with the reviews & results.

EDIT 3/15/12: Okay the results are in! Consensus is that they’re both “fucking awesome.” Jay favors the maple-bourbon but said they’re both equally amazing. The regular bourbon batch could’ve used a slightly bigger hit of heat, so keep that in mind. I’d go for doubling the amount of pepper flakes in the recipe above; if you’re using actual Serrano you might be fine, especially if you leave in the seeds. In the spirit of knowledge, I tried both & it’s amazing how true it is that the vinegary pickle brine & the bourbon interact in such a way that you end up without the intensity of the alcohol & without the super tang of the brine. Good luck & happy pickling!

Blanton's bourbon & (maple-bourbon) pickles. on Punk Domestics

Got an excess of pickled items? Well then read on…

I’m guessing that around this time of year most people who like to preserve foods or “can” end up with a plethora (or a bunch) of jars of pickled & preserved goodness. Now if your family is anything like mine, you end up with quite a few open jars in your fridge any given time. Everyone wants to taste everything at once!

“Ohh what are those? Pickled carrots?! I need to try them…”
“Mmm those habanero pickles look good, I think I’ll try one!”
“Holy crap- you made dilly beans?! I haven’t had one of those in years… lemme get one…”
“Wow lemon marmalade. Is it good? Can I try some?”

And then all the jars sit in the fridge getting picked at here and there, taking up space. Except for the regular cucumber pickles; the pickles go like hotcakes. I can barely keep a jar for longer than a week or two tops. So after the successful potato salad I made with dilly beans, I brainstormed this macaroni salad to incorporate and use up some of the pickled goodies sitting open in my fridge. I had some pickled carrots, dilly beans, peppers in oil & regular dill pickles, so that’s what I used. Of course, you can definitely substitute plain slivered carrots, chopped fresh Bell peppers and some chopped fresh green beans too… but it’ll be a totally different taste & flavor profile.

Keep in mind also that pretty much anything could be added: pickled zucchini, cauliflower, etc. Whatever you have open & whatever tickles your pickle (pun intended). Just chop it up & toss it on in there. You can adapt it to suit you in any way, including removing the mustard or removing the red wine vinegar & using all white, etc. Also, you can adjust the ratio of vinegar to mayonnaise as you like it.

Everyone loved it. LOVED IT. It was requested for lunch quite a bit that week.

The pickled carrots come from Molly Wizenberg‘s book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. I mentioned that lately I’d been reading through it again a few posts back, well I also saw the pickled carrots while re-reading it & became intrigued. They took no time to make, seeing as how they were really a form of “refigerator pickles” & were a welcome addition to not only this salad, but my refrigerator. I subbed fresh sprigs of rosemary for the thyme because my mother has an allergy to thyme, so I try to avoid using it in anything she’ll be eating. Now I understand that if you already have an excess of pickled vegetables, you might not want to add to it by making pickled carrots. And I really do understand. But in case you’re intrigued like I was, or you’d like to make them for your salad, I’m including Molly’s exact recipe. Mine differs slightly; I used rosemary instead of thyme, omitted the peppercorns & mustard seed but added freshly ground black pepper, and didn’t add the red pepper flakes either. But that’s something you can figure out for yourself. Same goes for the amount, I made one pint jar by adjusting the ingredients to accommodate it, which is certainly something you can do. If you used a variety of different colored heirloom carrots, it’d make an even more beautiful jar. Next time, that’s what I’ll do.

By the way, this is in the gluten-free category for the pickled carrots, not the macaroni salad, although you could definitely use gluten-free pasta. Same goes for whole wheat pasta or any kind you’d prefer. I like the tri-color because it adds to the prettiness, but that’s just a purely aesthetic reason.

They look gorgeous in the jar.

SPICY PICKLED CARROTS WITH GARLIC & THYME (from A Homemade Life)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, plus more off topping jars
  • 2 cups water, plus more for topping jars
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 (5-to 6-inch) sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • Heaping 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • Heaping 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ pounds small (finger sized) carrots, or standard or baby sized carrots cut into sticks about ½” inch wide and 3 inches long

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, thyme, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt & mustard seeds. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer & cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ½ cup vinegar.
  2. Put the carrots in a large, heatproof bowl, and pour the warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature. While they cool, wash 2 quart-sized canning jars and their lids in warm, soapy water.
  3. When the carrots & brine are cooled, distribute the carrots evenly among the jars, arranging them snugly. (Hands & fingers work best for this; tongs make a mess). Using a ladle, ladle the brine evenly among the jars. The carrots should be covered completely. If not, add a mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.
  4. Seal firmly & refrigerate for at least 3 days, or preferably a week. Carrots are dense & take time to absorb the brine. Carrots will last indefinitely (in theory) but try to eat them within a month or two (unless you give them a 10-minute waterbath, then they’ll probably last longer*).
* That’s my 2 cents.

PICKLED & PRESERVED MULTICOLOR MACARONI SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound tri-color pasta, cooked
  • 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • 5 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup slivered pickled carrots (or regular baby carrots)
  • ¼ cup chopped dilly beans
  • 4 or 5 sweet Bell peppers in oil, chopped
  • 1 pickle spear, cut into ¼” pieces
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 3 hardboiled eggs, sliced then quartered
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix shallot and vinegars together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine the mustard, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and paprika thoroughly in another medium bowl. In a third and larger bowl, add the cooked pasta and mayonnaise mixture together. Mix completely.
  3. Add the vinegar mixture and pickled vegetables and again mix thoroughly. Finally, add the eggs and gently toss.
  4. Place in refrigerator until chilled. Add more mayonnaise or vinegar right before serving if too dry.

Yeah. That’s one colorful, bright & happy macaroni salad. How could you not smile while eating that?