Wednesday, July 25, 2012

the pickle tree

About ten years ago, one of our friends admitted he had always presumed that pickles grew on trees...and thus begins a lifelong joke. Its just how things like that happen. Ask my sister-in-law about whittling a key sometime, and you will understand. For now, anytime we have new pickles, it must be asked whether they came from the pickle tree.

Alas, there is no tree. Our pickles started as lowly cucumber seeds (Arkansas Little Leaf H-19 Pickling Cucumbers from Southern Exposure), grew happily on the angled trellis made by hubby (which I blogged about ), were harvested last week as this:
 3 1/2 pounds of yummy cucumbers. Having never made pickles before, I decided to start with some refrigerator pickles. There are so many great pickle recipes online! Hubby requested sweet dills, and the little buddy loves his dill spears, the decision was made. So I sliced them up two ways, in spears and round slices, and sent them off to an ice-bath in the fridge for a few hours. I read that keeps them crispier, and it was easy, so why not?
 Then came the pickle making fun. I had enough for three pint jars of each type of pickle. My "recipe" if you call it that was loosely formed by all the various recipes online, for which I am very grateful! Here is what I did:
Dill Spears:  Place one smashed garlic clove and 1 tsp. dill seed in the bottom of each clean pint jar. Then cram as many pickle spears in as you can, and wedge another garlic clove in the top.  For the brine I combined 1 c. apple cider vinegar, 1 c. water, and 1 T pickling salt (found in the "salt" aisle at Walmart). Bring the brine to a boil, then pour over the pickles, leaving 1/4" headspace. Put lids and rings on jars, and cool to room temperature, then put them into the refrigerator. Shake once a day to mix. Start eating on day three!

Sweet dill slices:  Place 1 tsp. dill seed into each pint jar. Slice 1/4 of a large sweet (Vidalia-type) onion, mix together with the cucumber slices and pack tightly into each jar. For the brine, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1/8 cup pickling salt. Bring to a boil, and pour over the pickles, again leaving 1/4" headspace. Put lids and rings on jars, and cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Shake once a day to mix. Start eating on day three!

Here are the kids at our taste test! I have to admit, I'm not usually a pickle-lover, but I do enjoy the sweet dills. And the kids, hubby, and grandpa are all devouring the rest. Glad there are more cucumbers to come!

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