August 8th, 2010

cooking

Pickle Surprise!

I added a couple of new skills to my cooking repertoire yesterday; pickling and canning. As I had mentioned in a previous gardening post, the cucumbers have finally taken off and have been producing nicely over the past several days. Kitty made a very tasty Asian cucumber and shitake mushroom salad on Wednesday. I decided that I wanted to try my paw at making bread and butter pickles. Thanks to the Interwebs I found a whole myriad of recipes. Some said to parboil the cukes, others said not to. Some were for pickles that didn't require canning, others required canning. I sorted through dozens of recipes to find common themes and proportions.

Pickles are relatively easy. You need cucumbers and a brine/pickling solution. First I needed a ratio of cukes to brine. Then I needed a ratio of vinegar and sugar for the brine. You could add whatever spices that floated your boat, but celery seed, turmeric, and dill seed seemed to be the most commonly mentioned. A few recipes called for adding a pepper or 2, so I added 3 fresh green chiles. Overall the process is very simple. I boiled the brine, added the cukes, simmered for a little while, transferred the pickles to jars, filled jars with brine, boiled the jars, and let cool. I always thought there was more to it when canning. I always had nightmares of exploding jars or pressure cookers. I suppose the jars could still explode, but I'm hoping they won't. I'm also hoping the seals are nice and tight and I don't end up poisoning myself with tainted food. We shall see in a few weeks if we have something tasty or disgusting.