Super busy of late – I’ve been meaning to write this post for about a week, but somehow am only just now getting around to it. The garden has been really productive recently, so last weekend I gathered up a bunch of cukes, okra, beans, and carrots and made pickles. So, it’s pickle delivery time!
From left to right you can see the pickled carrots, cucumbers, okra, and beans. We had a ton of cucumbers, so I made spears and chips (better for sandwiches, you know) Although we let the cukes get a wee bit too ripe, I think they’ll still be fine. Also, (as if I shouldn’t have suspected this would happen, having been the worst Tetris player in my family as a kid growing up), there’s a fair amount of floating going on, despite the shouldered jars. I think I probably could’ve used one or two more okra pods and about a third more beans, honestly – the cukes and carrots both seemed to stay put much better. I’m also not quite sure if I didn’t fill my okra jar that much or if there was some kind of leakage during the jar processing; there seems to be just a bit too much headspace, in any case.
I kinda free-styled all of these, and it now being a week later (and me not taking particularly great notes), here’s what I think I did:
1) Make Brine
- 9:9:1 Ratio of Water to Distilled White Vinegar to Pickling Salt (I used 6 cups of each of the liquids, since I was making a lot of pickles; ended up with about a cup or two leftover though, at the end)
Bring the brine to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt, then turn the heat down to low to keep it nice and toasty until you’re ready for it.
2) Cut Vegetables
I cut my carrots into sticks, my cukes into both spears and chips, and both the flower and stem end off the beans. Okra stems got trimmed a little too (being careful not to cut into the pod itself).
3) Fill the jars
Add seasonings to the jars. For all of these, there are some dill seeds (1/2 teaspoon per pint), fresh dill weed (four-fingered pinch of diced dill per jar), peppercorns (teaspoon), and a sliced up clove of garlic or so. In addition, the carrots got about 1/3 of an onion, diced, spread between two jars, and the okra also got some red pepper flakes and mustard, about 1 teaspoon of each, I think, per pint. I really should take better notes. Or write these posts sooner.
This is where things get tricky. Ideally, you’d have enough of something that you can jam things into the jar so tightly that you don’t think you could possibly fit anything else in there. I obviously didn’t have quite enough beans or okra to get things that tight though, so things floated. It’s probably fine, just that the bit that’s sticking out above the brine might not be quite as tasty as the bits below. Next year we hope to have a bit more of both of those growing in the garden, so maybe I’ll have more on hand at one time to take care of that. In any case, once you’ve got your jars filled with spices and produce, ladle in some of that brine that’s been hanging out on the stove. About 1/2 headspace would be nice.
4) Process the jars.
You started with clean, sterlized jars, right? Ok, so now that they’re filled with goodness, wipe down your rims, pop on a lid and band, and drop them (carefully – don’t want to break them, after all), into a boiling water bath for 15 minutes per batch.
5) Be patient.
This is the bit that Panda’s been having trouble with. I keep having to remind her that we have to wait a few days for the brine to completely do their thing on the okra. I’ve considered sleeping in front of the basement pantry just to keep things safe until they finish curing in their little jars down there. But soon, there will be pickles. And then there will maybe be a plate of pickles and cheeses and cured meats. And it will be delicious.