Last week at the Carroll Street Farmers Market I saw some really cute Kirby cucumbers (a.k.a. pickle cucumbers) and I decided to embrace my inner "Little House on the Prairie" and give pickling a shot. It took a trip to the Food Coop to get all the needed spices for the pickling mix, but it was surprisingly easy. Preserving foods sometimes makes me worry a bit that I'll give myself botulism/something equally bad, but as long as you follow the recipe, you should be fine! If you're really worried, get yourself a courageous friend to taste them first.
This recipe is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I don't really have any notes since pickling novices such as myself should not futz with recipes.
Mark says you can also use carrots, radishes, celery, fennel, pearl onions, cauliflower, peppers, turnips, summer squash, eggplant, peaches, or beets.
2 pounds Kirby cucumbers
6 TBS salt
2 cups white or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Pickling spice (see below)
1. Wash the cucumbers well, scrub them if they're spiny, and cut lengthwise into halves or quarters or slice. Put the cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the salt; toss well.
2. Let sit in the sink or a bowl for about 2 hours. Rinse the cukes and pat dry with paper towels; put in a nonmetal bowl.
3. Put the remaining 1/4 cup salt, the vinegar, sugar, and pickling spice, along with 2 cups water, in a pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then let cool for about 5 minutes. Pour the mix over thecukes and let cool to room temperature. (Add more vinegar or water if the cucumbers are not covered.)
4. Transfer the cucumbers and pickling liquid to airtight jars or containers; store in the fridge for at least 3 days or longer for stronger pickles. They will keep in their pickling liquid for up to 3 weeks.
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
10 bay leaves
2 small hot dried red chiles or 1 TBS hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup mustard seeds
2 TBS allspice berries
2 Tsp whole cloves
2 TBS black peppercorns
2 TBS coriander seeds
2 Tsp cardamom seeds
2 TBS dill seeds
1. Break the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and chiles into pieces.
2. Roughly chop (or crush with a heavy skillet) all the other ingredients, leaving most of the seeds whole.
3. Stir to combine the spices and store in a tightly sealed container for several months.