Pickling, July 2010

Our garden has really begun to provide an abundance of produce and so, to deal with some of the surplus, Eliza and I did some pickling yesterday.  Specifically we pickled a ton of cucumbers, but we also did some green tomatoes and some various hot peppers.  It was a pretty good time.

I, myself, had never pickled before yesterday.  I’ve been witness to it in the past (my parents used to do some), but yesterday was my first occasion to really get in on the action of pickling.

Pickling seems to be a lot of preparation mixed with a lot of waiting.  I don’t say this to dissuade any would-be-picklers, but merely to make the point that it is probably not an activity for somebody with a low patience level. For starters you have to get all the veggies you want to pickle, and then chop them up into jar fittable sizes.  You also have to decide on what seasonings and spices you want to go in each batch of pickles (last night a batch for us was seven jars).  You have to boil both brine and water, and try to keep it consistently hot.  You need to be relatively clean, as pickling, much like beer brewing, has a potential for contamination.

All and all though, pickling seems like my kind of thing and I want to do it more.  Last night we managed to get through five batches of pickled veggies.  I don’t have the exact ingredient lists on me (I’ll try to get them from Eliza), but I can provide a rough idea of what each batch contained.

  1. Garlic and dill cucumber pickles.  Used a simple white vinegar brine and also contained peppercorns, pickling spices, onion, garlic, and mustard seeds (as well as fresh grown dill seeds and stems).  Kind of intended to be your standard, run-of-the-mill, dill pickles. Seven pint jars.
  2. Lemon cucumber pickles.  Also used the simple white vinegar brine.  Garlic, lemon slices and fresh squeezed lemon juice (with lots of pulp) and fresh bay leaves.  Seven pint jars.
  3. Curry cucumber pickles.  Cider vinegar brine.  Curry spices, peppercorns, fenugreek, garlic, onion, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and, in three jars, fresh hot peppers.  These smelled really good as we were filling them.  Eliza says she loves curry pickles and as such we made seven quart jars of these ones.
  4. Pickled green tomatoes.  Simple white vinegar brine.  Mustard seeds, onions, garlic, bay leaves.  Three jars also had crushed red pepper.  Really pretty looking.  The green tomatoes were salvaged from one of our tomato plants that unfortunately seemed to be succumbing to fusarium wilt (to prevent spreading to other plants we had to pull the whole thing out and discard it).  We made seven pint jars.
  5. Pickled hot pepper rings.  Simple vinegar brine.  Pretty much just a variety of hot peppers and garlic.  We made seven half-pint jars of these.

Here are a few pictures from the effort.

Cucumbers!

We used a mixed variety of cucumbers from our garden, which provided us with a lot of different looking slices.

cucumber slices

It was a lot of cucumbers. Our cucumber plants have been producing like crazy and really one can only eat fresh cucumbers so many times in a row before getting kind of worn out. Pickling seemed like a logical alternative.

Green tomatoes

I have never actually ate pickled green tomatoes, so I am particularly excited to see how these ones turn out.

Hot peppers

Two of the hot pepper from our garden. I am not sure of the specific variety of these two, but they are lovely looking peppers. Heat level? Quite intense!

chopped onions

Lots and lots of onions. Definitely made ones eyes water. Onions are delicious added with other vegetables for pickling,

hot peppers rings

Really a whole bunch of different types of hot peppers. Hot banana peppers, jalapenos, pablanos, and probably a few other types.

All the pickling stuff

It gets a little chaotic with all the chopper vegetables and equipment.

Making Brine

Pickling brine is relatively easy. Nearly even amounts water and vinegar (a little more on the water if you are not into very strong acidity) and just a bit of salt. This is a cider vinegar brine being made here.

Packing pickles

There is something really fun about fitting stuff into the mason jars. You kind of try and arrange everything to take up the most space possible. Those are some completed jars in the foreground.

Pouring on brine

After a jar is well packed with vegetables you pour on the brine, leaving just about a 1/4 inch head room.

Completed jars

It is important to minimize movement and contact while the jars are completing sealing (which happens as they cool down).

Pickle jars

A closer look at some completed jars (I think these are the lemon cucumber pickles). I feel like there is a real beauty to homemade pickles. I can't wait to get to try some of these.

Admittedly this first pickling occasion of the summer was quite a lot (we didn’t even get through all the vegetables we have).  We will probably avoid doing such a large number of batches in the future, and in stead aim to just do one or two when we have some produce ready for it.  Specifically on my list of things to pickle are beans, okra, tomatillos, and whatever else looks good.  Furthermore, we intend to do some non-pickling canning of things like tomato sauce, salsa, and just some general vegetables.  Our hope is to keep most of the canned jars until the winter, when we’ll likely be really craving good vegetables.  We’ll see if we can wait that long.

Until next time!

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~ by Nathaniel on July 12, 2010.

2 Responses to “Pickling, July 2010”

  1. This post came out really nice, love the photos… and the 55 jars of pickles in the other room.

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