Not only am I getting cucumbers from my CSA share at Pakeen Farm every week, but my in-law’s garden is bursting with them. Our house is full of big salad cucumbers and the small Kirby cucumbers perfect for pickling. Hubby can devour cucumber after cucumber in the same way that I attack a perfect peach. I tolerate cucumbers, but never once have I said to myself “If only I had a cucumber to eat right now.” Yeah, not ever – not even once.
With Hubby’s cucumber appetite sated and more pickle cucumbers showing up almost daily, I’ve started pickling them to keep up with the supply. Even though I’m also not a huge fan of most commercial pickles, I do like good homemade pickles. Both of the recipes given below are examples of why homemade pickles are so much better than store-bought.
Making and canning pickles is a great introduction to someone that wants to learn the art and science involved. Traditionally, half-sour pickles are a fresh pickle served cold from the fridge. However, the bread and butter pickles are a classic canning pickle. I don’t go through enough pickles in a year to justify canning them, but you certainly could. If you want to know more about how to can pickles or for instructions, I would start with the site Food in Jars.
I never had a half-sour pickle until my first visit to Rein’s deli in Vernon, CT. These salty, crunchy pickles were more to my taste since I’m not a huge fan of vinegary pickles. They taste of cucumber, salt, dill and garlic. These are the pickles so popular in delis all over New York city.
My grandmother used to make tiny sweet pickles about the size of gherkins. Every summer when we visited Alabama, I remember eating these pickles right from the jar. When she knew we were coming to visit, she would put a Tupperware jar full of them aside just for my sister and I (less she had to can). An added bonus of the sweet pickles is that they are lower in sodium than standard pickles because the cucumber are salted and then rinsed. While certainly not identical, these bread and butter pickles are reminiscent of her sweet pickles. Instead of the tiny gherkins I use sliced Kirby pickles, but the flavor is full of those sweet summer memories.Enjoy!
Note: Commercial pickles and many home preservers use calcium chloride to make pickles super crisp. If you are looking for a product to insure a crisp final product, then this may be what you are looking for. Before calcium chloride was widely available, people used lime to achieve the same result. Calcium chloride is certainly a far safer product than lime, and about as inert as table salt. However, if you are squeamish about using anything with a chemical sounding name, then just avoid it all together. I don’t use it because I can’t be bothered to buy it, and my pickles are still very tasty.