Friday, September 10, 2010

ISO The Perfect Pickle Recipe

And by "pickle," I'm referring to cucumber pickles here. I love pickles. Partly because I love all things vinegary, salty and crunchy. Like salt & vinegar chips. (Pickles are healthier, though!) Thus, I am on the quest for the perfect pickle recipe.

Last year I made a recipe from Putting Food By that was good, but wasn't my idea of the "perfect" pickle. Too sweet.

This year I used my Edmonson pickling cukes (they are white variety) and a recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. They are also quite good and are getting closer to what I am after, but not quite. In fact, I'd probably make the recipe again (maybe adding a dried chili to the jar)

Next year I plan to do multiple recipes early in the season and do a taste test to pick my favorite. The Ball recipe below will probably be my basis for this.

Ingredients (Makes about 3 quarts)
3 Tbsp pickling spice
4 c vinegar (I used white, Ball recommends cider. Both are at least 5% acidity)
4 c water
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c pickling or canning salt (I got this at a local hardware store)
3 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
2.5 tsp mustard seeds
~3.5 lbs pickling cucumbers, trimmed and cut into spears (try to make sure all the spears are the same size)
Ball Pickle Crisp, optional

1. Sanitize jars and lids.
2. Put the pickling spice in cheesecloth (or a large tea ball) and place in a sauce pot with the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Boil for about 15 minutes, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar.
3. In each jar, put 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove, and 1 tsp of mustard seed. Pack in cucumber spears, leaving 1/2-in on top of the jar. If using Pickle Crisp, add that according to package instructions.
4. Ladle hot pickling liquid in jars, keeping 1/2-in of headspace in the jar. Remove air bubbles and screw on lids.
5. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Wait to eat for a least a week for flavors to develop.

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