Sunday, June 13, 2010
This is a pickle like nothing else you've ever tasted. The most heavenly, crisp, sweet and tangy pickle chip you could ask for. Best ice cold. Perfect chopped in tuna or egg salad. Or potato salad. Or remoulade. Or layered in a ham sandwich.
Luvey worked for my Grandmother Mary from the time I can remember. When my grandmother died at 103 or so (can no longer remember exactly as she lied about her age for years,) Luvey was still alive, but failing. She was a tall, charming woman from South Carolina, who went on cruises and saw the world after she semi-retired late in her 70s.
Luvey came to the house three days a week. She cleaned and ironed and polished everything. She ran the vacuum, did the laundry. She loved my Grandmother. She sat down and had lunch with Mary every day she worked. A lunch of hard boiled eggs or sardines, mustard, pickles, thin sliced pumpernickle bread, toasted, and a piece of fruit. Or some leftover roast meal reheated and reimagined as a sandwich, again served with pickles and mustard. And reheated coffee. (ack)
You'll need some equipment to make these pickles.
10 pounds of cucumbers, very fresh
Alum - a natural product that crisps the pickle - in many grocery store spice racks
Pickling Salt or Kosher Salt
Pickling Spices - My recipe follows, and makes about 1/3 cup. I found it at some point somewhere on the interwebs and apologize for not being able to recreate the link and give proper credit.
A large crock or glass jar. I like having a lid, but you can always use plastic wrap and a rubber band. I've made these pickles in large flower vases. Adjust the quantity you make depending on the size of your pantry. I'm giving you the process for 10 lbs. of cucumbers, which produces 6 or 7 pints of pickles. Or 3 to 4 quarts. The jars are not processed, so you can use any old glass jars of any sort, as long as they have a lid and they have been sterilized. I like to use old fashioned glass canning jars for this pickle. Running the jars through a hot dishwasher is suitable sterilizing.
A pot large enough to boil 4-8 quarts of water. The bigger the better.
Slice cucumbers - do not peel - into 1/4" slices. A mandolin is very useful. Place the slices in the crock and cover with 4 quarts of boiling water.
Drain the cucumbers and then cover with a brine of 1-1/2 c salt dissolved in 4 quarts of boiling water.
Drain the cucumbers and then cover with an alum mixture, 3 T Alum dissolved in 4 quarts of boiling water.
Drain the cucumbers and cover with 4 quarts of cider vinegar heated wtih 1/4 c pickling spice.
Day Five, Six and Seven:
Allow the pickles to cure, covered, in a cool spot.
Drain the cucumber slices. They will be surprisingly crisp. But they are not done yet. Put the drained slices in a large (really large) bowl. Dump 4 cups of sugar over the pickle chips and toss well, coating all the slices. The sugar will draw out pickle juice and makes a syrup. Magic.
Divide the chips into your jars and scrape the sugar left over into the jars.
Cover and allow the jars to sit for a couple of days before tasting. Turn the jars over every day.
Chill well before tasting. Cold, they are absolutely amazing.
I know. Delayed gratification. It's going to be a few days. But these are crazy good pickles.
(if you want to make your own)
1 tsp galangal
1 T allspice
2 tsp coriander seed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 T mustard seed
2" cinnamon stick
Combine well. Crush stick and seeds a little. Store in a jar for one pickling season.