Friday, August 10, 2012

Quick Pickles Two Ways: Dill Pickles and Sweet Pickles

Dill spears, dill coins, and sweet pickle coins

I bought a big bag of little pickling cucumbers at the farmer's market.  I didn't weigh it, but it was probably 2 or 3 pounds.  They were selling three bags for $5, so the bag cost me around $1.70, a deal for sure.  I had grand plans of canning pickles.  And then ... the days flew by, and I just didn't have the time to brine, sterilize, process, etc.  I wanted pickles, but not the ordeal of making them.

And then I remembered a recipe I'd seen for quick pickles.  The upside:  it only takes 10 - 30 minutes to make, depending on which recipe you're following, and they're ready to eat in an hour.  The downside: they don't keep indefinitely, like supermarket pickles do, so you only have about two weeks to eat them.  Hah!  I challenge you to make these last that long!

As far as equipment goes, you need largish jars with screw tops on them.  I used canning jars, because I have them handy, but I also put some dill coins in a jar that used to have ghee in it.  Just make sure it's very clean and doesn't have any smell from whatever was in it before.  Now - get pickling!

Dill Quick Pickles

  • 4 Kirby or pickling cucumbers, about 4 inches long
  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar (I used about 3 tablespoons cider, with white vinegar to make up the rest of the cup)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns 
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 3 or 4 sprigs fresh dill, bruised
  1. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, salt, allspice and peppercorns to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your cucumbers.  I cut off the top and bottom ends.  At this point, you can do spears (cut lengthwise, about 1/2" thick), or into coins (about 1/4" thick).  Fill the jar with cucumbers, leaving about 1/2" space between the top of the cucumbers and the top of the jar.
  3. When brine comes to a boil, pour over cucumbers.  Push them down with a spoon to make sure they're submerged, and top off with the dill and the garlic, pushing them down into the cucumbers.  Screw on the lid, put in the fridge, and give them an hour or two to soak up the brine before you taste them.  
Quick Sweet Pickles

  • 4 Kirby cucumbers, each about 4 inches in length
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • small piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  1. Prepare the cucumbers:  Slice them very thinly, using a knife or mandolin.  Place them in a colander and salt heavily.  Let them sit for about 15 - 30 minutes.  (The salt draws extra water out.)  
  2. Prepare the brine: Add vinegar, water and spices in a saucepan and heat to boiling.
  3. When brine boils, remove from heat and let cool a little.  While it's cooling, rinse off the cucumbers and give them a little squeeze to get out the extra water.  Pack into a clean jar, leaving about 1/2" space at the top of the jar.  Pour in the brine, making sure the cucumbers are covered.  (Add extra water here if you have to.)  Screw on lid and refrigerate.
Note:  These are sweet, but not as sweet as the store-bought kind.  If you need enamel-peeling sweetness, add 2 or 3 teaspoons of corn syrup.  (Use the rest for pecan pie!)

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