Friday, July 10, 2009

In a Pickle

Since I seem to find myself "in a pickle" these days, I thought it was an appropriate time to make pickles. Pickled cucumbers that is.

The idiom "in a pickle" refers to being in a disagreeable situation. It's kind of a mysterious figure of speech because "pickle" usually means something preserved in a brine or vinegar solution. So metaphorically you could conjure up the image of sitting in a sour, vinegar bath. Hmm.....sounds about a pickle.

However, explaining how I got my cucumbers "in a pickle" is a lot more interesting than explaining how I got myself "in a pickle."

This was my first attempt at making pickles. When I brought the pickling cucumber plants home from the Farmer's Market, I think Keith was worried that there wasn't enough space to plant them. But being the nice accommodating husband that he is, he found room for all four plants and this week we harvested the first bunch of cucumbers.

As a child, homemade pickles were one of my fondest memories of my Grandma Smith, who died recently. She canned so many things but the little baby pickles were one of my favorites. Her pickles were in high demand by everyone who tried them. I even remember a time that my parents transported a gallon ice cream tub full of them home on an airplane for one of their friends. Of course that was before the 3 ounce liquid rule. I can still picture the plastic tub sloshing with pickle juice as they carried it through the terminal.

I didn't have my grandmother's recipe so I "loosely" followed one from the Martha Stewart website. Nor did I have all the ingredients that the recipe called for so I just left them out and added a few of my own.

After sterilizing my jars, and preparing the cucs, I filled each 12 ounce jar with a dill flower from our garden. I also added some peppercorns to the jars as well. I think you could add just about anything you wanted to, garlic, spicy peppers, onions, all of which would enhance the flavor. But this was my first try and I wanted to start out simple. The brine that I made consisted of vinegar, water, salt and cumin. Once the cucs were packed in the jars, I poured the brine over them, put on the lids and processed them in a water bath. The hard part is having to wait to eat them. They need a good two weeks before opening so that flavors can mingle. Yum! They might not be as good as my grandma's but I can't wait to try them!


Kelly said...

I agree! This is one of my favorite memories of Grandma, too! I loved it when she'd pour some of the juice in a Dixie cup for me. Gosh, that makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

(and I also remember the pickle juice dripping all over the airport terminal floor!)

Miss you!

Esmerelda said...

Sounds like you need some pastrami on rye with spicy mustard to go with those pickles.


Hootie said...

Can't wait to hear how the pickles turn out! I bet they'll be fantastic! :)

Steph said...

I can only ever think of you as a sweet pickle!