I have only been blogging for a month and I already have my first guest blogger! She is no stranger though, she is my Lil’ Sis (as in we are related, I was never in a sorority). Jacky lives in the Los Angeles area, and although she works in the film industry she loves to cook when she has time. A perk of living and working in LA is that she gets all kinds of funky days off. All the holidays (i’m a chef, so I don’t know what the word “holiday” means), every 2nd Friday in the summer, and apparently Leap Day. What does one do with a random Wednesday off? Make pickles of course! I actually have very little experience with pickling, and would love to try it this year if my garden gives me a good bounty (growing a garden in Nevada is a whole other blog topic). Here is Jacky’s story about her first time pickling.
I love pickles… But I don’t love how expensive they are at the grocery store! My co-worker Katie makes pickles often and I remember my dad making pickles when I was younger. Why have I never tried to do this myself? I had a day off of work and my husband was not home to entertain me. So, what better time to try my hand at pickles?!
I found a “starter” recipe online for spicy dill pickles. The first step was to buy the ingredients. Even though I live in sunny So. Cal, I am a new homeowner and haven’t had the time yet to plant a garden with cucumbers. At the store, the most expensive thing was the jars! Next time I will use old pasta sauce jars! The recipe was pretty simple. Basically throw all the ingredients into a pot and let them sit for 2 hours. Since I bought short, pint-sized jars, I needed to cut my cucumbers into slices rather than pickling them whole (as the recipe called for). This was a perfect job for my mandolin (thanks Ginger for the birthday present). I started to slice the 12 Persian cucumbers into ¼” thick slices. After I finished 7 cucumbers, I realized I could use the “crinkle” blade that makes them pretty! So I switched midway through the slicing. Now I could have pretty pickles!
I threw all the pickles in a large pot and then got to work on the dilll. I am not great at picking the herbs off the stem, so this took a while. I didn’t really measure the dill, I just went with it. I used 1 full pack of dill for chopping! Once the dill was ready, I threw that in the pot. Then I added the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, pickling spices, and dill seed (all measured out properly of course). Oh no, I forgot to buy garlic cloves! I decided to add a spoonful of crushed garlic that I had in my fridge as well as some garlic seasoning and onion seasoning (this was going to be interesting)! I then added the red pepper flakes, sparingly, as my husband doesn’t like too much spice. But how are the top cucumbers going to “pickle” if they aren’t covered in the liquid!? So I tossed in more of everything, including water and vinegar. I didn’t measure anything out this time… I just eyeballed it. I let everything sit for 2 hours before jarring them, which was awesome since I got to sneak a taste! So far they tasted great, nice and dilly! I ended up using only 5 jars. Yes, I packed them tight, but 5 jars doesn’t seem like much! When jarring, I made sure each jar had its own spring of fresh dill to make them extra dilly! Now they are sitting in my refrigerator for the next couple of weeks until they are ready to eat.
I am excited to try another batch soon (when I can find more jars). Hopefully by then I will have a garden planted and I can use my own Persian Cucumbers.
12 – 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers (Persian work well)
2 cups water
1 3/4 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh dill weed
1/2 cup white sugar
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 1/2 teaspoons dill seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 sprigs fresh dill weed
- In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, water, vinegar, chopped dill, sugar, garlic, salt, pickling spice, dill seed, and red pepper flakes. Stir, and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until the sugar and salt dissolve.
- Remove the cucumbers and divide them into three 1 1/2 pint wide mouth jars, placing 4 cucumbers into each jar. Ladle in the liquid from the bowl to cover. Place a sprig of fresh dill into each jar, and seal with lids. Refrigerate for 10 days before eating. Use within 1 month.