Internetless Bread and Butter Pickles
August 6, 2011 4 Comments
We got a pretty crazy storm last Tuesday night. There were severe thunderstorms and sightings of funnel clouds. Yes, in Connecticut. We had a pretty good scare when a branch came down on our roof. We briefly lost power and after it came back on we thought everything was ok. But no… our internet was out! Tragedy of tragedies. Luckily, a pile of pickling cukes were on the counter calling my name.
Sometimes you don’t realize just how plugged in you are until you disconnect. Focusing on a quiet night in the kitchen instead of a screen is the ultimate head-clearer. Its recentering, for lack of a better word. In the past, I’ve run away to the wilderness of Southeast Alaska or Maine. Unfortunately that’s not in my financial cards this summer. The Kitchn posted an article about electricity-free Fridays. Starting the weekend off right – I find that incredibly appealing. The last few Fridays I’ve headed directly from work to my favorite PYO orchard for a few hours of quiet picking. Its the same idea.
Where was I? Oh right – pickles. I tend to make three types of pickled veg. Fridge pickles (the laboratory), savory pickles (a blend of mustard seeds, coriander, dill, garlic, fenugreek, and salt) or sweet pickles (mustard, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and sugar). Cucumbers that are put up tend to fall into either garlic dill or bread & butter categories. I always save a jar to go straight into the fridge so the temptation to open a jar is quelled. For a little while.
B&B Cucumber Pickles
5ish pounds of pickling cukes
Two white onions
Yellow and black mustard seeds
Whenever I start pickling, I measure. It methodical so as not to produce waste. Cut the blossom and stem ends off of the cukes and slice into coins. I then put the coins into jars. I don’t have a goal to preserve x jars of pickles – I have a goal to preserve the amount of cukes I have… and despite doing this for a while now when I guess I am always off. This acts as a rough measurement (yet more accurate than guessing). I ended up with three quarts and some leftover for the fridge. I took the cukes out and put them in the ice water bath for a few hours.
After dinner, I fired up the canner to sterilize the quart jars. I drained the crisp cukes and tossed them with thinly sliced onions. Each hot jar should be packed full, but leaves 1/2″ of headspace. On top, add a tablespoon each of yellow mustard seeds, black mustard seeds, celery seeds, whole cloves, coriander seeds and black peppercorns. In the past, I’ve also added bay leaf and/or a cinnamon stick. I took an empty quart jar as a measuring cup and added 1.5 quarts of white vinegar and 1.5 quarts of water to a pan on the stove, with an additional 6 tablespoons of salt (1 tablespoon per 2 cups of brine). As this was for a sweet pickle, two cups of sugar also went in. Fill each jar to barely cover the pickles-to-be (leaving 1/2″ headspace). Top with hot, wet lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.
Its a great way to reset on a weeknight. How do you reset?