Quick Recipes and Easy

The Special Pickle Jar

I am a firm believer in organic food. Anything that is made or preserved without chemicals tastes much better than something that contains ingredients that a person can not pronounce. If I can not pronounce it I will not eat it.

There are dozens of different pickles in supermarkets today. I reckon I have tried every mass produced brand there is. They all look tasty in the jars. If they tasted half as excellent as they looked it might be okay. Some are too sour while others are nothing but salt. I have even tried those pickle mixes that say the pickles are ready to eat a few days after making. I will never use those mixes again. All I could taste when I tried making pickles with them was formaldehyde. I thought I was back in biology class dissecting frogs again.

Needless to say, I make my own pickles. I like bread and butter pickles, beet pickles, pickled peppers and dill. Pickles are usually processed in a water bath for ten minutes after packing in jars. All that is needed for a excellent tasting pickle are the right ingredients. Firm cucumbers are a must. I always try to get them in jars within one hour of picking. Letting the cucumbers sit for a long time will result in a soft product. Only use kosher canning salt. Iodized salt will not give a excellent result. Excellent quality water is also vital.

My favorite pickle is not processed in a water bath. It is fermented much like sauerkraut. I make them in gallon jars. I prefer 2-3-inch size cucumbers for this pickle. First I scrub them with a vegetable brush, making sure they are free of dirt. Next I place them in a non-metal container and cover them with a brine made of 1-1/2 cups of salt and 4 quarts of water. Let them sit over night in the brine. In the meantime make a brine of 10-quarts water, 1-quart vinegar and 2-cups salt. Boil for 10-minutes. Let this brine stand over night.

The next morning I drain the cucumbers and rinse with clear water. I sterilize my jars. Then I add a few peeled cloves of garlic to the bottom of the jar. Next I add a whole head of dill weed, stalk and all. I start packing the cucumbers tightly, adding more dill between layers of cucumbers. When the gallon jar is filled to about 2-inches from the top I pour the cold brine over the cucumbers, making sure they are completely covered with brine. I place the sterile cover on and tighten well.

These will ferment in the jar for a week or more, depending on the temperature of the room. I let them sit on my counter. When they start fermenting they will get cloudy and look like something to be discarded. Just be patient, do not panic. When the fermentation process is done the pickles will clear up. At that time I go them to a cool place and leave them alone for at least 5-6 weeks. If you open them up too soon they will not be translucent, meaning they have not ripened long enough.

I make these pickles in August and usually open the jar for Thanksgiving day. After opening I keep them in the refrigerator. My family looks forward to that special pickle jar every year. They know that excellent things are worth waiting for. They will not eat store bought pickles.

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