Wednesday, July 11, 2012



We've been up to a lot around here. 
Tipping canoes

Celebrating birthdays

Getting over a fear of swimming in the lake

Crashing. My first thought was "Camp, it does a body good." 

Making pickles

Cooking pickle brine

Getting four inches of rain in one day and finding a sunflower keeled over

And doing something I've never done before: composting pickles

Our summer's been one interesting day after another. The heat has been part of it, with Atlanta breaking an all time record of 106 degrees. I know in most parts of the country there's been similar stress, and for some friends in the Mid-Atlantic region, a week without power. My hat's off to those folks. I would have lost it.

One of the side effects of the extreme heat with no rain in sight, is that the cucumbers have either died outright or turned bitter. I didn't know that about cukes until a farmer at the market told me he'd be ripping his out this week because the cukes are bitter. Which brings me to pickles. I love, love, love making this particular recipe for pickles. I think I did 50 jars of them last year. This year, bupkus. I realized too late after making six jars last week that the cucumbers were bitter. Worse than the vinegar I was trying to brine them in. Blech. So, this morning, I dumped all of the cucumbers into the compost. Sad times around here.

But, I encourage you to test some cucumbers and make this for yourself. They are a marvelous addition to your dining. They're refrigerator pickles, so you keep them in the fridge. You can put them up, but I find that it makes the cucumbers kind of soft. They make awesome gifts.

Kinda Sorta Sours
Adapted from Alton Brown, Food Network

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: At least one hour
Makes approximately eight quart jars


3 sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 cucumbers per jar, for a total of about a dozen large cucumbers
16 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
6 cups water
6 cups cider vinegar
3 cups white balsamic vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 cup plus 1/3 cup of Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1 Tbsp. celery seeds
1 Tbsp. pickling spice

Prepare jars for canning by thoroughly cleaning with hot soapy water. 

Prep cucumbers and onions and garlic in advance. Start with adding the garlic to each jar, then the onion slices and then the cucumbers. You will need to leave room at the top for the brine once it's ready. Have extra cucumbers ready for topping off the jars once the brine soaks down into the jar.

In a large non-reactive pot, combine the water, vinegars, sugar, salt, and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer four minutes to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat.

Slowly ladle the brine into each jar, allowing it to settle into the jar. You may want to use a chopstick to move the contents so that air escapes the jar. Fill the jar to the top, adding cucumbers as needed. Top with remaining brine to the 1/4 inch fill line on the jar. Wipe rims of jar with a clean, wet rag. Place lids on the jar and screw down. I take this opportunity to flip the jars upside down for a minute to get the brine to the bottom. Allow jars to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.

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