How about two cents?
Who doesn’t like pickles? Well…test subject Bill is a self-proclaimed pickle hater. With this in mind…well…I made pickles anyway 🙂
With Alton Brown’s refrigerator pickle recipe recipe in hand, I was determined to produce the best pickles ever. Or, at least something edible. His recipe calls for “pickling spices.” I visited three different stores, including two different Whole Foods, but there were no pickling spices to be found. So I sought out my own pickling spice recipe. A fellow blogger was kind enough to provide her pickling spice recipe so I thought I was good to go:
PICKLING SPICE I
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1 teaspoon crumbled whole mace
1 teaspoon dill seeds
4 dried bay leaves
1 small piece dried ginger
Mix together all the ingredients.
Store in a small, airtight jar up to 2 months.
Makes about 1/4 cup.
Well…a few of those ingredients were hard to come by. I tore Whole Foods and Publix apart but had to substitute ground ginger for the dried ginger and ground mace for the whole mace. I made my pickling spice and hoped for the best.
Using a combination of cucumbers from my CSA box and the Saturday farmer’s market, I got to work slicing and mixing. The recipe is suprisingly easy – I can’t believe I didn’t do this before. I filled up nine small canning jars and one large one with cucumbers and onions, simmered the spices and vinegars and water together and poured them over the top of the veggies.
Alton’s recipe calls for half a cup of sugar. I don’t like using so much (plus I think sweet pickles are gross) so I did one batch with the full amount of sugar, one with half the sugar and one with a quarter of the sugar called for. I guess I just can’t leave things alone – must experiment!
After the jars cooled to room temperature, I lidded and refrigerated them. The great thing about these pickles is that they are ready almost right away. I tried some the very next day and was pleasantly suprised. The sugar wasn’t overpowering and offered a nice balance to the tartness of the vinegars. I didn’t taste too much difference between the full sweet and half sweet ones, so I think I’ll just use half the sugar from now on. The quarter sweet ones I also enjoyed, although they were a bit more sour than the others. The substitutions I made in the pickling spice didn’t seem to have had an adverse impact on the final product. Yay!
Test subject Bill finally taste tested them tonight. “These taste better than pickles,” he announced. (All according to my plan…slowly but surely I will turn him…) I have to agree – they are superior to store bought pickles and not difficult to make. The only problem is that they only last two months.