Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Sweet Cucumber Pickles
All summer long I have been harvesting cucumbers, each day bringing in armfuls and piling them up on the kitchen island. It was largely thanks to the children who sowed the seed rather generously and a very wet summer - they say you reap what you sow and that is exactly what happened. Every salad had cucumber in it, it was minced and added to Greek yogurt along with finely chopped mint and children on occasion, were spotted eating them whole, straight from the vine! Then the neighbour started leaving me lots of his cucumbers, he too was having a bumper harvest. His were a variety called 'white Russian'; we grew 'burpless' and Lebanese cucumbers. I couldn't even give them away at church - it seems everyone was awash with cucumbers or maybe they just didn't like them. There was no way we were going to use up all these cucumbers so they were turned into pickles - so easy to make. Have you ever tried them? My husband and children love them; they go into sandwiches and are the perfect accompaniment to quiches and other savoury dishes. They are sometimes called 'bread and butter' pickles because I guess that's exactly how you eat them - on bread and butter. I do like them topped on a slice of cheese on a wholewheat cracker though! This is how I make mine.
You will need
4 kilos of cucumbers (that's about 8.8lbs) - very approximate. You could make more or less and adjust the amount of brine needed.
3 cloves of garlic tied in muslin
2 red or green capsicums (bell peppers) - I like the red for contrast.
3 tablespoons celtic sea salt (or ordinary table salt but I prefer to use good quality salt)
1 litre of cold water (about 0.264 US gallons) - or more if needed to ensure all vegetables are covered
4 cups raw sugar
5 cups cider vinegar
2 tsps tumeric (don't omit this - it gives your pickles a lovely golden colour)
1. Prepare your cucumbers and other vegetables - Slice the cucumber thinly; this is where a mandolin slicer is invaluable - it gives you uniform, thin slices and saves you so much time. There is no need to peel the cucumbers!
2. Make a brine - pour cold water into a large bowl or pan, dissolve the salt and soak your vegetables for at least 3 hours.
3. Drain your vegetables well and put into a pan suitable for preserving - I use a big stainless steel crock pot. Add the remaining ingredients and bring them to the boil on the stove top.
4. Stir gently ensuring that all the sugar has dissolved.
5. Remove the bag of garlic and pour your pickles into sterilized jars and seal immediately.
I keep my jars of pickles in the fridge and in previous summers they have been used up within a month. It is now into autumn and we still have quite a number of jars left. I have always assumed these are a 'fridge pickle', i.e one that does not keep indefinitely, that needs to be used up within a couple of months but I would like to find out how long other people who are into pickles keep theirs. Any advice would be appreciated - I am still a novice at preserving!
What kind of pickles do you get into?
With Love and Joy,