Thursday, June 28, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles

This is my last food preservation post!  Well, the last one for this week, anyway, we'll see what we get out of the garden this weekend!

I've been looking forward to making pickles this year.  I was hoping to start with regular dill pickles, but I prefer them with Pickle Crisp* and I couldn't find any at the local grocery stores on the day I needed it.  So I looked through my handy dandy Ball book* for an alternative and decided to give their Refrigerated Dill Slices recipe a try. 

A few notes before we get started.  First, when you are canning, you need to use canning and pickling salt.  This is salt without any anti-caking agents or iodine in it.  If you try to pickle things with regular salt, you can end up with cloudy liquid and darkened pickles.  So stick with canning salt.  The cheapest I've found is Morton and this is what the box looks like:
Secondly, you will need pickling spice.  You can buy this in the store under various brand names, or you can make your own by mixing: 1 broken up cinnamon stick, 5 crushed bay leaves, 2tbsp mustard seeds, 1tbsp whole allspice, 1tbsp corriander seeds, 1tbsp whole black peppercorns, 1tbsp ground ginger, 1tbsp dill seeds, 2tsp cardamom seeds, 1tsp hot pepper flakes and 1tsp whole cloves.  This mixture can be stored in a small glass jar for up to 1 year.  I made my own pickling spice for this recipe. 

On to the pickles!

Refrigerator Dill Slices
makes about 5 pints
8¼ c sliced pickling cucumbers
2 c white vinegar
2 c water
6 Tbsp canning salt
¼ c sugar
2 Tbsp pickling spice
7½ tsp dill seeds
5 tsp mustard seeds
1¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
5 cloves of garlic, halved

1. Start out by washing the cucumbers and trimming off the blossom end.  There are enzymes in the blossom end that will soften the pickles if you leave it.

2. Slice the cucumbers into about
¼ inch slices.  It's easier to get uniform slices with a mandolin, but a knife works too if that's what you've got.  Put the slices in a glass or stainless steel bowl.
3. In a stainless steel pot, mix the vinegar, water, canning salt, sugar and pickling spice.  Do not throw the extra dill seed in there like I did (oops!  I got out as much as I could, but there is still extra there).
4.  Bring the mix to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.  Reduce heat, cover and boil gently for 10 minutes.

5. Pour the pickling liquid over the cucumber slices, cover and set aside until cooled to room temperature
6. While you wait, be sure you have 5 clean pint jars prepared.  Place 1½ tsp dill seeds, 1tsp mustard seeds, ¼tsp peppercorns and 1 garlic clove in each jar.
It doesn't hurt to take a little baby yoga break either.  I think she's pretty much perfected downward-facing dog.
7. Once everything has cooled down, put the cucumber slices in the jars, leaving at least a ½ inch head space
8. Ladle pickling liquid over the cucumbers, maintaining the ½ inch head space.
9. Apply lids and allow pickles to marinate in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.  Use within 3 months.

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