Thursday, January 27, 2011

Easy Sour Pickles, Even In Winter!

When making pickles this time of year, it is darn near impossible to find pickling cukes, so I have found the the English cucumbers that come wrapped in plastic make wonderful pickles.  If I can't find them I'll use the waxy skinned ones and just peel them.  They aren't as pretty, and don't stay as crisp as the English ones, though.
Pickles are so easy, and you can pickle lots of different vegetables and fruits besides just cucumbers.  I love the hot pickle mix that has cauliflower and celery and those little onions.  I can easily make a batch of three quarts of those to have without having to drag out my big canner, by just storing them in the refrigerator.  They'll be gone in a couple weeks anyway, so why bother.  Once you master a spice blend you like, and have a basic pickling liquid, you can pickle all year round.
They make a great hostess gift to take when dining at someone's house, and last a long time in the fridge without losing quality.  Plus you have the satisfaction that you've made them yourself!
I discovered Ball's pickle crisp a couple of years ago, and have been very impressed by how crispy my pickles come out.  You can presoak the cukes in a solution of water and pickle crisp, but I just add it to the jar before pouring in the hot pickling liquid. 
I recently had a heart surgery, so I am restricted in the amount of salt I can ingest.  This causes a problem for me in that I am a pickle nut.  I panic if we are running low on pickles, and it is my snack of choice for any time of the day.
Well, I am trying to be good, but still need my pickle fix, so I found a recipe for no salt sour pickles and have adapted it to my taste.  Below is the recipe:

No Salt Sour Pickles

5 or 6 English Cucumbers, sliced thin
6 sprigs of fresh tarragon
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large onion sliced thin
3 heaping T minced garlic
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 quart white vinegar
3 C water
1 T sugar or splenda
12 whole cloves
1 tsp alspice
1 1/2 tsp Ball Pickle Crisp per jar
Place the sliced cukes and onions in 3 sterilized canning jars.  Add the fresh herbs, garlic, and pickle crisp.  In a saucepan, heat the remainder of ingredients until boiling, and pour carefully into the filled jars.  Using a spatula, release any air bubbles.  Seal and let the pickles cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.  Store at least one week before serving.

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