Is it odd that the thing that most excited me about the first batch of pickles in 2012 is that we canned a prime number of cucumbers? (127, if you were curious!). Yeah, I think my mathly-inclined friends are rubbing off a bit…
Anyhow, the farmer’s market had fabulous looking itty bitty cucumbers (like the size of my pinky finger or smaller) for $15 a bucket (about $2.75/pound), so we decided to liberate a bunch and make pickles. Walking past the herbalist’s stall and smelling the fresh dill wafting on the hot breeze might have played an important role, too…I always love the different smells at the market, but sometimes I do get a bit carried away!
So we acquired fresh dill and a short ton of baby cukes, picked up some vinegar and jars on our way home (seriously, where do all the jars go?) and got down to business. I should also say, this was the day we decided to make currant jelly and shrub, so it’s not like our afternoon docket was empty. But there’s always room for pickles, no?
I washed the little cukes and sliced off both ends…I started out doing this with a paring knife, but then I remembered I have a small microplane blade on the side of my box grater that would do them much faster (and at much less peril to my fingertips!). Stroke of genius, that.
Once the cukes were washed, it was time to make the brine and pack the jars. The brine was a simple 1:1 ratio of water and white vinegar with a bit of salt and sugar added. Once that was all in the pan and heating up, I started filling the jars. One head of very fragrant dill apiece, plus a half-teaspoon of pickling spice (Penzey’s blend…it’s quite tasty), plus half a teaspoon of dill seeds (not all the dill heads were seedy yet, and I wanted DILL pickles!). A few jars also got dried peppers added just to see how they’d come out!
Once the spices were in, John & I packed the cukes in as best we could. We had slightly more cukes than the recipe called for (OK, about 2.5 times by weight), so we got 10 pint jars and one half pint once all was said and done. We poured the brine over them (we’d done a triple batch figuring we’d need it, but I bet we could have gotten by with a double batch b/c we ended up throwing quite a bit out that didn’t get used).
Once the jars were packed and brined, we popped them into the water canner to process for 10 minutes and poof! Done! I’m really excited to see how these turn out (I think we’ll crack the half pint in a few weeks just to see, though we do need to finish up a few jars of last year’s pickles before we go crazy and make a bunch more. That, or annex more storage space somehow…)
We missed out on the baby cukes last year, so this was the first time we pickled whole cucumbers…I’m curious to see if anything is different (texture/flavor-wise) compared to slices!)
And, of course Herbie the cat likes to be part of what’s going on. Or oversee his human underlings…we’re never quite sure which it is…