It’s not even remotely related to BBQ or the Big Green Egg, but I just had to post about something new I learned to make. Pickles! Yes, you heard me right. I made pickles. And to make up for the fact that this post is not Egg-related, I promise to find some way of incorporating these pickles in to a future dish made on the Egg. Maybe pickles on a tasty burger? 🙂
So why pickles? It seems we are overly obsessed with BBQ these days (Fargo EggFest is less than 2 weeks away and we just finalized our menu), but it’s also that time of year when the pickling cucumbers come out in mass quantities at the local markets and that got me thinking… “How come we’ve never made our own pickles?”
It’s not like there is any store bought brand that we are in love with (although Claussen’s is probably my favorite Kosher Dill Pickle from the store) and I was positive I could make a kick-ass pickle if I only bothered to try. So I went to work researching home canning. You can learn to do anything on the internet!
A couple of days before we left for our vacation to Quebec, I stopped at the closest produce market for some cukes, dill, and garlic, and I picked up some 1L mason jars with the snap lids on the way home and went to work. I heard about a woman who washes her cukes in the washing machine but I didn’t think Brian would be to impressed with me if I got mud all inside of ours, so I soaked them in cold water in the sink and scrubbed them the old fashioned way. I mixed up my brine as follows (I found this was enough for 6 or 7 jars depending how tightly the cukes were packed):
- 17 cups filtered water
- 4+1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1 cup Kosher salt
While that came to a boil, I sanitized the mason jars in boiling water and packed each of them with 4 cloves of garlic, 1 head of adult dill weed, 1 handful of baby dill, 1/2 tsp of whole peppercorns, and as many cuckes as would fit. I also threw in a whole dried red chili pepper into some of the jars just because it looked pretty, and the last jar ended up with two whole jalapeno peppers to fill the space since I ran out of cukes. Then I filled the jars with brine leaving 1/2 inch head space and the lids went on. I processed the jars in a water bath at a slow boil for 15 minutes. It took over an hour after removing the jars from the water bath for the lids to “pop” but they all did and were properly sealed.
I deliberately did this just days before we left on vacation so that I wouldn’t be tempted to open a jar prematurely to taste the pickles, since I’d heard they need at least two weeks to ferment. Of course the day we got home, the first thing I did was pop open a jar for a taste. And they were excellent!! So good in fact I was disappointed that I didn’t make more, but I had been afraid to do a big batch and then have them not be any good.
So, I just had to make another bigger batch. But this time, I used only baby dill instead of a mix of adult and baby dill, so we’ll see if that makes any difference. I also sliced the cukes for two of the jars so that we would have sandwich pickles. Hopefully they turn out okay.
Anyway, it was a lot of work, but definitely worth it after tasting my first batch. My buds confirmed they are excellent pickles, so I can see myself doing this again every fall.
Note to self: Must plant pickling cukes next year. Buying them at market wasn’t cheap!