At the farmers' market this guy had some baby cucumbers labeled as "pickles". I was meaning to get cucumbers anyway. You can imagine how that sign just lit the spark on that pickle-making urge that I get sometimes. (what, you don't?)
The first [and only other] time that I tried making refrigerator pickles was a disaster.
I followed a recipe, [Aha! Mistake #1],
not paying attention to the fact that my Mason jars were about an eighth of the size that they needed to be.The recipe had these really tedious instructions--cut the cucumbers a certain way, salt them according to very precise measurements. Drown them in a boiled vinegar solution, refrigerate for exactly 2 weeks; in the meantime, take them out and shake them vigorously for a minute each day.
At the end of the two weeks I took them out to try, and you can imagine my horror that they were too sour, soft, and downright mushy!
Turns out, I had used at least 8 times as much vinegar as I was supposed to, so they basically broke down into a pickle mush.Needless to say, they sat uneaten in the refrigerator for about four months until I had the heart [and stomach] to pour them out.*
*See below post on not being able to throw away food.
What I really wanted the whole time was crisp, barely pickled cucumbers. Like Claussen, or the ones at Ted's Montana Buffalo Burger.
Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
(How do they do it?)
Here is my new attempt at refrigerator pickles. This time is a little different for two reasons:
1. The cucumber.
Last time I used "regular" cucumbers, the big, dark green ones from the grocery store. Apparently, since the sign at the farmers' market advertised these as being specifically for pickles, these will be more appropriate. Not so big and full of water to begin with.
2. The brine.
Since I am only making a tiny batch of pickles in my teeny tiny jars, I am not just going to drowning them in vinegar. Instead, to each jar I added just 1 Tbsp white distilled vinegar to 1 cup cold water. Plenty diluted for a slow, crisp fermentation.
Seasonings (Per 16-ounce jar)
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp dill seeds, whole
5 black peppercorns, whole
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
Some other things you could use, depending on what's on hand:
red pepper flakes, mustard seeds (they look so cute in there!), celery seeds, fresh dill.
This time I didn't have those wonderful little lids with the rubber seals, so I just used a layer of tin foil under the screw top. It's not air-tight, but since these are not brining for the whole 2 weeks, they don't really need to be. In fact, I think I'll try these cuties tomorrow and see what good a little picklin' has done them.