Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer Pickles


I find I'm clinging to these last days of summer. Soon, I know I'll be immersing myself in fall's bounty and loving every bite.  But until I start devouring apples and squash, I still have summer produce on my mind.


Remember those pickling cucumbers I picked up at the Ballard Market earlier this month? I had plans for them when I stashed a couple pounds in my bag.


Over the past year, I’ve caught the fermenting bug and now jars of kombucha sitting on top of my fridge are a normal sight, kimchi and sauerkraut are common topics and I’m finally having some success in making yogurt.


Pickles are another wonderful fermented treat. During the summer months, pickling cucumbers start showing up at the markets. They tend to be smaller and firmer than regular slicing cucumbers and may have a rather spiny skin. After washing and slicing them, they are immersed in salty water to begin fermenting. No vinegar is used. Flavors can be added, and for these pickles I layered in coriander seeds, garlic, fresh dill and a handful of dried red chiles. I began my batch of pickles in Seattle and then brought the jar along with me to the Methow Valley and let them ferment for a few days.


Some fermenting variables are the temperature of your kitchen, the amount of salt used and the size of your cucumbers, as smaller slices will ferment faster. My cabin kitchen is very warm these days, so we began crunching away soon.


These pickles have pizzaz! The fresh dill and coriander seeds lend an herbal note, while the garlic and chiles bring a spicy punch. Perfect to nibble on at a barbecue or for a lazy afternoon snack, they taste of summer and I’m savoring every last bite.

Summer Pickles
Fills ½ gallon jar

2 pounds pickling cucumbers, ideally small to medium in size
6 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups boiling water
10 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
10 small dried red chiles
1 large bunch fresh dill

Wash the cucumbers well and slice them in half lengthwise, or to the size you prefer. In a bowl, stir together the kosher salt and boiling water until the salt dissolves. In a clean, sterile ½ gallon or similar sized crock, layer the sliced cucumbers, garlic cloves, coriander seeds, chiles and sprigs of dill. You may have to push the cucumbers down to make them all fit. Pour the salt water over. Push the cucumbers down so they are completely submerged. I usually move them around until they are a bit wedged down and stay covered by the water.  If using a crock, you can also weigh the cucumbers down with a small plate topped with cans.

Cover the jar with cheesecloth and let it sit at room temperature for 48 hours. If it is quite warm in your kitchen, you can begin tasting after 24 hours to see if they are to your liking. The warmer the temperature, the faster they will ferment so it may take a few days or up to a week. Once you like the flavor and texture of the pickles, begin eating them and store the covered jar in the fridge for up to one month (the cold air slows down the fermentation). 

16 comments:

  1. Awesome Hannah! I am all about fermenting as well - I've got the bug! ;)

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    1. I'm loving all the fermented goodness! :)

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  2. I have some cukes sitting in a pot for a month now. I can't tell if the color they are turning is normal! It's a different process from yours. I'm sure they are done, but I'm afraid to can them because I don't want to can up something that might make us ill. Yours look beautiful. I think I'll try your method next year, this is nuts.

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    1. Hmm, I haven't tried canning these before...we just eat them out of the fridge. Have you nibbled one of yours to see what the flavor/texture is like? If you're pleased, you could just stash them in the fridge and eat them now. Happy pickling!

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  3. I've never pickled but love the idea of trying it. Another item to put on my wish list!

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    1. I think you'd make wonderful pickles, Beth! :)

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  4. Your pickles bring back memories of my uncles pickles...they had the pizazz that you speak of. They look and sound terrific.

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen! I'm glad these pickles evoke some warm memories for you, too.

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  5. Those pickles are gorgeous Hannah!! I like anything I don't have to can or preserve, they are quick and I love that. I thought the brine for pickles always had vinegar in it, or maybe some does, some doesn't I guess. I think without the vinegar the fresh flavor of the vegetables would be more pronounced. Great recipe!! How is life in the cabin? Hope you are enjoying!

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    1. Hi Suzanne! You're right, some pickles have vinegar and some don't. The ones made with vinegar pickle quite quickly, and the others need some time to work their magic.

      Life in the cabin is wonderful - everyone has settled in well and we're happy. I hope all is going well with you! xx

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  6. I am a pickle fiend yet have never tried making my own. This has got to stop.

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    1. Pickle fiend is a good description - I'm with you, Lynda! I'm sure you'd make some divine pickles. I've been eyeing an Indian spice pickled carrot recipe...may have to try that one next.

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  7. I really need to pickle more - particularly when I can add red chile peppers like that! Great pictures, and these look like they have wonderful flavor. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you so much, John! Given your yummy recipes, I can imagine you make some tasty pickles. :)

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  8. These look fantastic Hannah, I do love a good pickle & these like they'd be perfect with some cheese & fresh crusty bread.

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    1. Thank you, Mairi! Love the thought of pairing with a cheese plate, too. I need to do a bit more pickling before the season ends!

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