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Archive for October, 2011

Pickles!


I have loved pickles my whole life.  I am fairly addicted to salt and pickles are the perfect vehicle for that addiction. But even I am grossed out that as a child I use to drink pickle juice from the jar after the pickles were gone.  I loved that salty vinegar mix.  What I never knew about those store-bought pickles was that they were missing all the other great pickle flavors.  Now I do not mean sweetness-sweet pickles  are complete disgusting, I mean fresh dill and garlic and cloves.  Those flavors are what makes these homemade pickles rock.

Also, these pickles were the perfect thing to make on a Saturday because in short I cut up some cucumbers, salted them, went out to dinner for two hours, came back and put the pickles in jars.  I know you are all jealous that I spend Saturday nights canning with my friends because it’s as cool as being a grandma but you too can spend your weekends canning delicious treats.

First, a special thanks to my husband’s I-phone for taking these pictures so well.  Good job Apple!

We started off with 10 lbs of cucumbers of many sizes.

And we cut them into  spears and these slices which are perfect to go on burgers.

Then we covered them in salt, a whole cup of salt, which was a shocking amount of salt.  We used all of the salt in the house!

Next we covered them with ice.  After that we left for dinner.  Like I said, it was Saturday night and we needed to eat.  You can do whatever you want but the pickles have to sit in the salt ice mixture for two hours.  It helps them keep their crispness.

After we got back from dinner, we mixed up all the ingredients to give these pickles their excellent flavor.  This included dill, mustard seed, allspice, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg, celery seed, cloves, and bay leaves.

We also added crushed anise and a bulb of garlic.

All of those ingredients were boiled with vinegar, water, and sugar to create the brine.

While this was boiling, we packed in the cucumbers into hot sterile jars.  By the way, this method is called cold-packing because the veggies are put into the jars cold.  Some recipes call for hot-packing where you heat the veggies with the brine.

After your cucumbers are all arranged, pour the hot brine into the jars.  Then process them in a water bath for 10 minutes if you are sealing them.  You can also just toss the jars in your fridge.  I left the pickles to sit for about three days to soak up all the flavor before checking them out and they were good.

Enjoy these with your favorite sandwich or burger and try not to eat them all out of the jar right away!

Ingredients: 10 lbs of cucumbers, 1 cup of salt, lots of ice.  For the brine: 4 Tbs dill, 2 Tbs mustard seed, 1 Tbs allspice, 1 Tbs black pepper, 1 tsp coriander, 1/2 a nutmeg, 2 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp whole cloves, 1 tsp crushed bay leaves, 1 bulb of garlic, 8 cups of vinegar, 4 cups of water, 4 tbs of sugar

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It is officially the end of the summer.  And not because I wore a scarf to the coffee shop or because the tree outside my window has a few yellow leaves, it is because I finished canning apple butter this week.

I know it looks like chocolate but that is all apples!

I may not have the blogging posts to prove it yet but this was a very productive summer.  Our urban garden did pretty well for it being our first time and having to withstand snow, hail, and crazy wind and rain storms.  I did not take as many pictures of this as I should have but we had some tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos and more peperocinis than we knew what to do with.   Later tonight I will make fajitas to show off all of our garden’s good work.

My partner in crime and I put away tons of food.  We have done two kinds of strawberry jam, blueberry jam, sweet corn, marinara sauce, whole tomatoes, pizza sauce, hot sauce, giardiniera, pickled peperocinis, pickles, pickled beets, applesauce, apple butter, and loads of bags of frozen fruit.  It has been tons of long hours in the kitchen after work and on the weekend.  When we finished the apple butter, I told her we would just have to hang out for real by which I meant sit on the couch and eat jam by the spoonful.  That is the plan for the long Chicago winter, hibernating and remembering the summer and waiting for it to come again one spoonful at a time.

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