Homemade pickles is something I've never thought about doing, pickles was always something my mother bought, so after many years of habitually buying pickles it never occurred to me that I could actually pickle my own vegetables and that it would be easy too. Mr. Borscht is always going on and on about how his grandmother used to pickle everything for the winter and how it was so great, this began to make me think about pickling. And so, with my very own pickling cucumbers grown right in my backyard I decided to try it out.
First of all, there are so many different ways of pickling, there are sweet pickles, spicy pickles, regular pickles, even fresh pickles that you can eat the next day, the list goes on. Mr. Borscht is not a fan of the sweet pickles and nor am I so I decide on a regular pickle recipe that has a little added spice to it for something just a tad different.
Unfortunately I yielded only two pickling cucumbers from the garden (they were the only two ripe enough to pick) and the recipe is for a dozen pickling cucumbers so I decide to wing it and add, in lieu of the 10 missing cucumbers, tomatoes in instead and also altered the recipe so that less amounts of the ingredients were added thus making it suitable for pickling about 7 cucumbers instead- the alteration in the recipe was done since I was pickling two cucumbers and 8 tomatoes instead of 12 cucumbers as the recipe was asking for; it was a rough estimate on my part but it turned out pretty well.
INGREDIENTS & AMOUNTS NEEDED:
RECIPE IS FOR 12 SERVINGS (12 CUCUMBERS), ALTER THE AMOUNTS AS NEEDED
1). Twelve 3-4" long pickling cucumbers (I used two cucumber halved & quartered depending on the size and 8 tomatoes on the vine, larger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than regular tomatoes)
2). 2 cups water
3). 1 3/4 cups white vinegar
4). 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh dill weed
5). 1/2 cup white sugar
6). 8 cloves garlic, chopped (I added the garlic using my garlic squisher which comes out minced rather than chopped)
7). 1 1/2 Tbsp coarse salt
8). 1 Tbsp pickling spice
9). 1 1/2 tsp dill seed
10). 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
11). 4 sprigs fresh dill weed
12). Three 1 1/2 pint wide mouth jars & their lids
1). In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers [and the tomatoes], water, vinegar, chopped dill, sugar, garlic, salt, pickling spice, dill seed, and red pepper flakes. Stir, and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until the sugar and salt dissolve.
2). Remove the cucumbers to three 1 1/2 pint wide mouth jars [I stored mine in one big jar], placing 4 cucumbers into each jar. Ladle in the liquid from the bowl to cover. Place a spring of fresh dill into each jar, and seal with lids. Refrigerate for 10 days before eating. Use within 1 month.
I tried one of the pickles on the 10th day after refrigeration and found that the pickles were still a little hard and that the ingredients tasted very separated (the flavor was too salty and too vinegary); which lead me to conclude that the cucumbers and tomatoes were not yet done pickling. I allowed the cucumbers and the tomatoes to sit for another 7-10 days, when I tried them after the extended period of "sitting" time I found the pickles to be absolutely wonderful! The vinegar, salt and other spices had proper time to marry resulting in the pickley taste we all love so much. The tomatoes also came out deliciously! If you've never tried pickling tomatoes I highly suggest trying it out, in Russia pickled tomatoes are very popular, yes, it may sound a bit odd, "pickled tomatoes", but they are very tasty!
Pickling at home whether it is cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots or whatever is so exciting to do and surprisingly easy, I'm not sure how I'll ever go back to buying pickled anything!- I suppose that's a good thing.