Part of the last year was spent emptying my mother's house - and that included a fruit cellar filled with things in mason jars. Preserving and pickling was a big deal in my mother and grandmother's day. Pickles, cauliflower, peaches, pears and jam made it into jars - as well as tomato preserves for the cabbage rolls.
Truth is, most of those jars were filled over 25 years ago. My mother had not even been down in her basement for the last ten years. I love the jars, and my treasured share is now in my house. I cannot account for why I did not continue their preserving practices. I even stopped making raspberry freezer jam.
I have no idea if anyone tracks(ed) the preserving trend, but it seemed to be on the uptick in the last ten years. Some credit the trend to hipsters in Brooklyn and journalists pondered if pickles were the new cupcakes? Locally, Joel and Dana of Well Preserved became celebrities with their publication - Batch. I heard them present at a conference - they are charm embodied, and folks with a mission. Listen to Joel at TEDxToronto.
Since many young'uns today live in tiny apartments, small batch preserving has also become popular. Though I have the fruit cellar and the jars - small batch is what pushed me to pickling. (And this is really small batch - a 1 pint jar of pickles.) Also appealing in this case is that there is no processing. These are fridge pickles that last up to six weeks - though so far they've been eaten before then.
I have slightly modified a recipe from America's Test Kitchen's new publication called Food Processor Perfection. It may seem odd to have a book on using food processors, but I am a bit of an ATK junkie and found many of the recipes appealing. This recipe makes a 1-pint jar of yummy pickles - in less than 15 minutes! I have now made these several times - not just because I love them, but because I couldn't buy only 8 ounces of pickling cucumbers. I got the smallest basket available at my local farmers' market, but that's still a lot of pickles. The 8-ounce measure turned out to be only 3-4 pickles and so I keep making jars and giving them away to happy friends and family.
8 ounces pickling cucumbers
1 pint jar (see Notes)
Rinse and dry the pickles and trim the ends. Use the food processor's slicing disk to quickly slice the cucumbers. Tip: If you only need 3 pickles to achieve 8 ounces, you may find that the first two fit nicely into the feed tube and you end up with perfect slices. To process that last cucumber - best to cut it in half. If you don't, you might end up with odd looking "side slices" the way I did the first time ;-)
Fill the 1 pint jar with boiling water. A hot jar is less likely to crack when the boiled brine is added. Handle the jar carefully when you pour off the boiled water in preparation for the next step.
3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (see Notes)
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove peeled and halved
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp black pepper corns
1/8 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 sprigs fresh dill
I prefer the Roasted Garlic version of Seasoned Rice Vinegar (see below). Add the rice vinegar, water, garlic, turmeric, and mustard seeds to a small pan. Bring it to boil over medium heat.
As that is coming to a boil, careful empty the jar filled with boiled water, and pack the cucumbers and dill into the jar. I separate the sprig of dill into two and put one part halfway and the other on top.
Carefully pour the just boiled brine into the jar (use a funnel or ladle if you need to).
Let the jar cool to room temp before covering it with the lid and refrigerating it. it may at first look like you don't have enough liquid to cover the cucumbers, but within a half hour the cucumbers soften a bit and you can gently push them down to ensure they are covered with the brine.
I takes 2-3 hours for the full flavour to develop. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. The pickles may get less crunchy near the end of that period. Enjoy!
Notes and Tips...
- Seasoned Rice Vinegar - I buy the Nakano Brand - which comes in natural and original seasoned, BUT for these pickles I used the Roasted Garlic Seasoned Flavour - and I think they nicely add to the yum of the pickles.
- Jars - the first time I made this I use a large mason jar, only half full; second time I used 2 x 250 ml jars - worked fine but then you need to be careful to divided the key elements of the brine evenly. In the end I finally caved in and bough 1 pint jars. :-)
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