Friday, July 22, 2011

In a pickle

Much as I don't "follow" recipes as such, I must say that after the flavor mishaps with my inaugural attempt at pickled okra last summer I am not keen on the idea of slaving over many jars of preserved produce for mediocre effect. Yet neither do I generally opt to make things out of a package. Hmmm. After reading recipe after online recipe calling for "premade pickling spice," I came across a basic recipe for pickling spices (thank you,

Pickling Spice

-6 TBSP mustard seed
-3 TBSP whole allspice
-6 tsp coriander seed (or, er, however much you have, which in my case was only 3 tsp)
-6 whole cloves
-3 tsp ground ginger
-3 tsp red pepper flakes
-3 bay leaves, crumbled
-3 cinnamon sticks, crushed (I used a hammer... nothing like breaking out the tool box in the kitchen)

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

Seriously, could it be any easier? Now, on to the pickle making....

I needed to use up the cukes I picked last weekend while helping out at Walker Jones Farm. Okay, I may have been suffering from greedy hand syndrome, I admitted while preparing the dozen regular and lemon cucumbers (those would be the round, yellow ones in the photo). I tell you they were just sitting there looking ripe and prickly and waiting to be pickled and I couldn't resist. Though Mike kindly loaned me Moshkov (formerly known as Boris) for my canning projects in coming weeks, it is just too darn hot out -- over 100 degrees! -- to steam up the basement apartment with a pressure cooker. So I started trolling the internet for refrigerator pickle (aka those that won't require boiling and processing) recipes. Here's what I made after cobbling together a few recipes for which I had most of the ingredients:

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Combine in a large glass bowl or jar:
-6-10 cucumbers (depending on the size, you may want to slice or quarter them)
-2 C water
-1 3/4 C white vinegar
-1/2 C sugar
-8 cloves garlic (conveniently, I had some from my visit to cousin Caroline's farm)
-1 1/2 TBSP pickling spice (well, look at you, you've made your own!)
-1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt

Stir, and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until the sugar and salt dissolve.
In clean jars, place:
-a sprig of dill (because these are pickles, after all)
-a grape leaf (whose tannins add crunch)
-a garlic clove
(because, really, 8 cloves wasn't enough)
-a hot pepper (optional, for the tough guys)

-cucumber pieces (as many as will fit)

Ladle the pickling liquid into each jar to cover cukes, topping off with a half-water/half-vinegar mixture if needed. Seal and refrigerate for 10 days before eating. Use within 1 month. (Oooh, these should be ready just in time for mom's retirement party next month. Score.)

BTW, a few folks have commented on how this blog seems a little recipe heavy these days. Well, can I help it if there's a ton of gorgeous produce this time of year waiting to be cooked and blogged about? No, no I can't. (Neither can I help this brutal weather pattern. Ugh. 100 degrees in the shade!) But I swear I've been writing about other stuff, too, just in other places. Places like the artsy, activisty new Bittersweet Zine. Don't worry, I'll get back to ranting about food justice and the lack of respect for bike lanes in DC soon enough....

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