I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

When Life Hands You Cucumbers, Make Dill Pickles.

Good evening! Mid-August at the beach often heralds the arrival of a brief and  much  enjoyed cool spell. We've had two days of temps in the low 70s, though tomorrow's predicted storms will return us to hot and humid  80s, back to high summer.

It was perfect weather for my pickle making project yesterday.

Truth is, I think I like the idea of making pickles more than I like the pickles themselves.
I love finding wonderful toad-knobby Kirby cukes at the farmers market. I love the array of canning jars, of fresh herbs and buds of garlic.

This year I bought a 6 pack of beautiful Weck pint jars. They are made in Germany, lovely and of course reusable.

Glass lids, optional rubber rings, and fun yet annoyingly elusive metal clamps to hold the lids on. One of 12 in the case has already disappeared.

I have lots of Mason jars both old and new, but my issue with these is twofold. I HATE the two piece Ball lids, the center part constantly falls out during use. And since I use them for many things--Mo treats, sewing stuff, flowers, etc, I am somewhat turned off by the idea of putting food into them and then eating that food. Yes I wash and boil my jars but still.And of course the antique jars [though my mom and dad canned in theirs] are to me a mystery. Who knows what bugs and spiders died in them while stored for 100 years in a barn. I use the Weck jars solely for food, so I know what's what with them. And they have the cool glass lids.

This batch I made using a kit from Walmart.

Hmmm. Pickling requires boiling of vinegar, not a fave fragrance of mine. The kit/ envelope wasn't any better, though perhaps was my fault because I ran out of white pickling vinegar and added a 1/3 Cup of cider vinegar, which has a definitely unappealing scent when boiled.

I make 5 jars,

3 are kosher dills/ garlic dills, packed with fresh dill flowers and garlic buds.

The other two jars are not Kirby cukes but peeled regular cukes, plus radishes. These are seasoned with tarragon and caraway.

My friend cut all the cukes into perfectly thin slices on his mandolin. He cut all these pickles in about 4 minutes. Impressive. He even cut the radishes as his girlfriend and I cringed. [Mandolin slicers are hell on fingertips!]

The cukes are soaked in cold water overnight. Drained.

Herbs placed in jar bottoms and along the sides, then the cut cukes added to the jars. Loosely layered, the brine has to reach all sides and cover the pickles.

Hot brine is ladled on top, lids set on, then clamped when cooler.

These are refrigerator pickles. Edible tonight, good for a few weeks in the fridge. NOT preserved, though I think pickles should keep anyway? My dad made them in old pickle crocks, like sauerkraut, with a weighted wooden lid. Not canned, not refrigerated. We survived.

Since this was a remeasured kit I consider this batch an experiment. Probably will have to redo using my mom's recipe* instead. And no cider vinegar. I'd also love to make my grandma's violently green watermelon rind sweet pickles sometime. Yummy with a ham and cheese  sandwich.

*My mom's recipe--Fanny Farmer Cookbook, is good--but she also saved the brine from store bought pickles, from January to pickle making time, in a big jug in the fridge. [Next to the crock of bacon grease, lol.] Then she'd boil the brine and reuse it. Just for dills, best I recall, she made bread and butter pickle brine from scratch.


Meanwhile just as I was pouring the brine, I got a text from Mo's groomer, she was on her way in the spa van, ETA 12 minutes. Uh oh. I hadn't forgotten Mo's appointment but had somewhat lost track of time, as I enjoyed my new Weck jars.

We hustled over to my friend of the mandolin's house; he has a free parking space for the van  on a weekday.

Mo loves the groomer, who has been away in the Hamptons and Fire Island since May. He got all perky when I told him he was gonna have a bath.

He must weight 5 pounds less! All of his dense and downy cream undercoat was brushed out; he is very sleek now.

See how perfect his markings look? And yes, he is supposed to have neck rolls like that, below.

And he is so velvety, like a stuffed toy. Smells nice too, though pugs in general are clean dogs and rarely smell bad if their faces are kept clean..

The reason he loves the groomer is, she gives him TWO yucky chicken jerky kebabs afterward. And a darling Snoopy scarf.

This is Mo the morning after---he was exhausted and refused to get up. Much coaxing and toe tickling needed to get him going--at 10 AM!

We're off now for a walk then time to taste the pickles. I'll let you know the verdict. They look pretty anyway, right?

Have a good week!



gone to the beach....

 Weck Jars HERE  but I order on Amazon for the free next day shipping.