Eric bought a flat of quart-sized canning jars a couple of days ago and a 1.6-quart plastic container with a vacuum-seal lid. He bought whole mustard seed and pickling spices. Last night, we pickled.

I’ve been picking the bush pickle cucumbers (“bush,” ha!) as they matured and putting them in the refrigerator. I started on July 5, and I picked the 11th last night, which I guess means I’m averaging about 1.5 a day from two plants (one of which is doing somewhat poorly–never again will I put a cucumber in a container that’s hard to get to with the hose). The first one was starting to look wilted, so apparently you want to use cucumbers within a week.

We are Alton Brown fans, and have some of his DVDs, including a show on pickling, so we followed his sour-pickle recipe for our first attempt. It calls for thinly sliced cucumbers, onions, garlic, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, sugar, salt, whole mustard, pickling spices, celery seed, turmeric (for color), and water. We hacked the cucumbers into big chunks, skipped the onions, halved the garlic, replaced the champagne vinegar with more cider vinegar, increased the turmeric, and added a few sprigs of dill from the garden. (Okay, we mostly followed his recipe.)

It was pretty simple to execute–boil everything except the vegetables (and the dill sprigs, we decided–later, when they were cooling, Eric told me delightedly that the dill looked like seaweed in a murky pond), pour that over the vegetables, cool, and refrigerate for a day or two.

“I can smell it from over here,” Eric said as the pot of mostly-vinegar was boiling and he was doing something on the other side of the kitchen (it’s a good-sized kitchen). Once we poured the liquids and spices over the cucumbers, garlic, and dill and the whole thing cooled off, it got less…pungent. When they were faintly warm we couldn’t wait anymore and tried one apiece.

They’re good. Faintly sweet, but not enough to bother us (neither of us are fond of sweet pickles), crunchy, and spicy. Next time we’ll try more garlic and dill and maybe a little less mustard, but they were good. We’re going to have them out tomorrow at Eric’s birthday party for people to try. And next year I will grow more pickle cucumbers so that we can make more and can them for winter.

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