Monday, August 1, 2011

I finally got around to making those pickles! Saturday morning was a classic NYC summer morning (hot and sunny but not humid at all), so I hauled my not-hungover (for once on a Saturday morning) ass to the greenmarket in my neighborhood and got pickle fixins.

It was nice to visit our weekly green market again, and to see it thriving (though I could have done without the long lines and Cadillac-style baby strollers clogging the street). I admit that I haven't been all summer, choosing instead to stop off at the Union Square market on my way home during the week. Don't judge me - it happens more frequently throughout the week and has more stuff!

Anyway, I got my cukes and jars all scrubbadubbed first.

Oh, don't mind me. I'm just mise-en-placing around.

Did you know that the blossom end of a cucumber may have enzymes in it that keep your pickle from staying crispy? Well, it's true. Cut them things off!

Cucumber Spears (Britney's more attractive cousin):

This is the part of pickling I don't like. Having to run all four burners on the stove and producing tons of steam when it's already 92 degrees outside.  That's why I make pickles in my underwear, folks. I kid, I kid. Or do I??

I filled the sterilized jars with all the stuff I needed - garlic, fresh dill, a coupla hot peppers, and mustard seeds.

Then crammed those spears down in there:

I topped off the jars with the hot brine and processed them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes each. After I pulled them out, I didn't have to wait too long to hear that satisfying *ping!* of the vacuum seal popping the lid down. Every canner I know loves that sound.

This batch made 8 pint jars full, and I had some cucumbers left over to make quick pickles (on the left). I'm already enjoying those, and they're pretty delicious.

If anyone has any interest in canning, I'd highly recommend The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. I have several canning books in my arsenal, but since I don't have a yard and am not producing humongoid crops of produce that I need to preserve, this book is perfect. It gives recipes for canning a few jars of things at a time, which makes the whole process a lot less daunting (especially in a small kitchen).

I'll let y'all know how these come out in SIX-WEEKS. Ugh! A wise man once sang, "The waiting in the hardest part, ever day you see one more card. You take it on faith. You take it to the heart. Yeah, the waiting is the hardest part."

Wise, wise man.


cheapblueguitar said...

Mmm... pickles. Those look great!

scrumrob said...

Your post brought back memories of my childhood.

I was raised by my grandparents on their farm in Georgia. The region where they lived was only connected to the electrical grid less than 15 years before I was born. Every spring, we planted two large vegetable gardens. Grandmother canned all summer long but one of my favourites was sweet cucumber pickles. They were pickled using lime and sugar and are so much better than bread and butter pickles. I love putting them on chicken sandwiches, bologna sandwiches, roast beef. They are the absolute best to use when making deviled eggs.

I was a pain-in-the-ass to raise, and they were almost sixty when I was dumped off by my parents for a two week visit that lasted for 17 years. They taught me more than I think they realised. As much as their son hated my grandmother, I loved her and argued with her every single day. I think those arguments kept her mind engaged.

Grandmother taught me how to make a pie crust and how to love flowers in a garden. Granddaddy taught me how to raise tomatoes, chickens, and calves.

I hated shelling peas and butter beans because it always made my thumb sore under the edge of my thumbnail. We canned tomatoes, corn, beans, beets (which I still hate), and so many different kinds of peas. Grandmother also made her own peach pickles, applesauce, canned peaches, grape jelly, blackberry jam, apple jelly, peach jam, and canned pears. The pressure cooker was in constant use from late June into September.

There were also a lot of frozen vegetables, but I still dislike okra unless it is fried. Granddaddy also made hams from the two or three pigs he always raised but he did not like country ham cured with salt and always used sugar. I remember seeing him and Grandmother making chitlins one time, which is an old Southern favourite, but the smell of cleaning and preparing the pig intestines ensured that I would never touch one in my lifetime because pigs really will eat most anything and create the vilest of smells. They are sort of the sharks of dry land.

Sorry, I am blathering, but it was this time of year that we were preparing for winter and planting fall vegetables such as turnip greens, collards (yuck!!!), and cabbage.