Friday, April 15, 2011

Furiously Fast Pickles

I've gone public here in proclaiming my dislike of pickles. But for some reason, whether it be the coming warm weather or something else, I've been craving a good, crisp dill pickle. (And no, it's not pregnancy, I promise!)

I still can't bring myself to buying a whole jar of them (what if someone saw me!?) But I found these great little Persian cucumbers this weekend and decided it was time to take the plunge.

The Persians work well because they are seedless. You could probably pull something similar off with a regular cucumber; just remember to wash it (and peel it, if it has a wax coating) and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds after you cut them in half.

My quick pickle brine started with some cider vinegar.

And yes, I'm measuring liquid in a dry measuring cup. I made lots of cupcakes today and most of my measuring things were dirty.

I poured the vinegar into a small pot and added some sugar. I like my pickles a little sweet--I'm not really into pickles that pucker your face.

Mustard seeds give the pickles that "pickle" taste. I don't have many uses for mustard seeds so I was glad to use some up!

A bit of salt was next.

Finally, I gave a clove of garlic a good smashy smash. This made the garlic paper easy to remove, as well as helped the garlic give up more of its flavor.

I turned the heat under the pot to medium. The heat will dissolve the salt and sugar.

While the brine was heating up, I started work on my cucumbers.

I always find food described as "seedless" confusing. But whatever.

I halved the cucumbers, and then quartered them. You could slice them instead, but to me, dill pickles are spears and sweet pickles are slices. I know that's not always the case, but spears are what I think of when I think dill pickle.

I lay the spears in a wide container; I cut up 3 cucumbers' worth. That was enough to cover the bottom of the container.
You've probably been wondering when we were going to bring the dill to the dill pickles. Well, now is the time.

I used dried dill because I had it on hand. I would have loved to use fresh, though--I do love the taste and smell of fresh dill! I guess I'll have to make these again in the summer.

I sprinkled the dill over the cucumber spears. Then I added a bay leaf.

If you like spicy dill pickles, you could add a pinch of crushed red pepper now.
By this time, your brine should be gently bubbling, with the salt and sugar fully dissolved.

Pour the hot brine right over the cucumbers.

Let your pickles rest until they reach an "eating" temperature. I popped mine in the fridge for a few hours because I love a cold, crisp pickle. You can eat them right away or you can let them sit for a few days. The first day, they're like a mildly dill-y cucumber, with a lot of crisp bite. After 3 days (which is how long they lasted in our house!) they're a little floppier, but are still crisp, with a sharper and more pronounced flavor. I think these may be my new favorite way to eat cucumbers!

Recipe: Furiously Fast Pickles

1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tsp. white sugar
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, smashed (and roughly chopped, if desired)
3 Persian cucumbers, quartered
1 tsp. dried dill (or 3-4 tsp. fresh)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

In a small pot, combine cider vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, salt, and garlic. Heat over medium heat until mixture bubbles and sugar and salt are dissolved.

In a shallow dish, combine cucumbers, dill, bay leaf, and red pepper. Pour hot brine over the cucumbers. Allow cucumbers to cool (at room temperature or in the refrigerator.) Serve.

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