Pickling 101 (Just the basics!)
Some of you may be wondering, what can you do with extra cucumbers?? Wellllll we are here to help with some pickling basics!!
First off, the best cucumbers to pickle are called the National Pickling Cucumber (very original). The best pickling results come from smaller cucumbers (the size that you would expect an average Kosher pickle to be). Do not pickle cucumbers that feel hollow, are rotting or shriveled, are discolored and/or are squishy and are pussing. Try tasting these cukes and see if they taste okay. If they do, consider making relish from them or pickle kraut.
These pickles look like this....
(these are a little too big for the "perfect pickle," but are still very usable for pickling!)
"What You Need"
1 1/2 pounds National Pickling Cucumbers
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoons dill seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt or kosher salt
2 wide-mouth pint jars with lids
Large pot, if canning
Prep the jars. If you are planning to can your pickles for long-term storage, bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize 2 wide-mouth pint jars and their lids. If you are planning to make refrigerator pickles, simply washing the jars and lids is fine.
Prepare the cucumbers. Wash (thoroughly) and dry the cucumbers. Trim away the stems of the cucumber. Leave the cucumbers whole, cut them into spears, or slice them into coins, whatever you like!!
Add the spices to the jars. Divide the garlic, dill seed, and red pepper flakes between the pint jars: 2 smashed cloves, 1 teaspoon dill seed, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if using) per jar.
Pack the cucumbers into the jars. Pack the cucumbers into the jars. Trim the ends if they stand more than 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing the cucumbers.
Boiling the brine. Place the vinegar, water, and salt in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Pour the brine over the pickles, filling each jar to within 1/2-inch of the top. You may have extra brine (more for next time!).
Remove any air bubbles. Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if necessary.
Tighten the lids. Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.
Optional — Process the pickles for longer storage. For longer storage, place the jars in a boiling pot of water to can them. When the water comes back to a boil, set the timer for 5 minutes and remove the jars immediately. Make sure the lids pop down; if they do not, refrigerate those pickles and eat them first.
Cool and refrigerate. Let the jars cool to room temperature. If you processed the jars, they can be stored unopened at room temperature. If unprocessed, refrigerate the pickles. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.
Storing pickles. Canned pickles will keep for at least a year on the shelf and for several weeks in the refrigerator once opened; refrigerator pickles will keep for several weeks."
Believe it or not, pickle juice has become the new recovery drink for many athletes. The sodium in the brine replenishes muscles and allows for a faster recovery time in between workouts. The vinegar in pickles has also been proven to reduce muscle cramping during and after your sweat session!!
Fermented Vegetables by: Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey