I didn’t always love pickles.
I do now. But I didn’t always. And the first pickles I made were horrible. The cucumbers got mushy in the processing. I tried dills, garlic and bread-n-butters, but they all tasted terrible because the consistency was awful. I will never forget opening the first jar of pickles that I made and biting into one. It was the worst thing I ever put in my mouth. And I was a little kid once. A little kid who was a younger sister, who actually took a bite of the mud pies my sister made. Trust me, the mud pie was better than the pickle.
I gave up on pickles for a long time, until I got married, actually, and received the Winch Family Pickle Recipe. It’s a secret, so I can’t share that one. However, I have figured out all kinds of pickles since my first successes with the Family Recipe.
I think the most intimidating thing about making pickles is batch size. We tend to think in larger batches because it is such a pain in the neck to pull out all of the canning equipment. Who wants to do that for two quarts of pickles, right? Well, you don’t need canning equipment for these pickles. And they aren’t those refrigerator dills, either. These are garlic pickles, like from the big barrel in the deli. My husband, a native Minnesotan, was dubious about a pickle that had no dill in the brine. But he is a convert to the strange and mysterious ways of the east: lacto-fermentation (Probiotic Preservation) and a ton of garlic!
- a clean wide mouth canning jar with lid
- enough cucumbers to fill the jar
- horseradish or grape leaf (optional)
- 1 small head of garlic peeled
- 1 t peppercorns
- 2 T salt dissolved in 2 C filtered water (or 1 T salt, 1/4 C whey, and 1 3/4 C filtered water)
- Push the horseradish or grape leaf into the bottom of the jar (this helps the cucumbers retain their crispness, but it is not necessary).
- Pierce the garlic cloves and add them to the jar. Drop in the peppercorns.
- Push the cucumbers into the jar tightly, but try not to bruise them as they go in. If they are too long for the jar, cut them to fit.
- Cover with the salt water (or salt-whey water), leaving about 1 inch of space at the top. Be sure the cucumbers are completely under the solution.
- Put the lid on the jar and let is sit on a counter for 2 or 3 days, until you see bubbles forming. You should also notice that the color of the cucumber skin has changed.
- Move the cukes to cold storage. They are ready to eat at any time, but the longer they sit around, the more garlicky and sour they become. The consistency will change over time. hey may get a little soft. They are still ok to eat.