Making pickles is a lot of fun and quite easy. The hardest part is waiting just the right amount of time for them to pickle before you eat them. When pickling you need about a teaspoon of different spices for each jar. I like to line up little bowls and place the spices for each jar in the bowls. Then I place the produce (whatever I am pickling) in each jar, then the spices before I finally pour the hot brine in the jar. This kind of cooking organization makes things go fast. Choose good quality ingredients that are uniform in size, fresh and free of blemishes.
“Misfits” can be used for relishes. Fruit may be use for pickling too. Using fruit that is not quite ripe is best.
The ordinary cucumbers at stores are called “slicers” and are for table use, not for pickling. At some places you can find pickling cucumbers. The best ones have small black prickles on them. Chicago Pickling or National Pickling cucumbers are some common names for the type of cucumber that is best for pickling.
Remember to wash all ingredients carefully to remove bacteria which might spoil your product. When washing cucumbers, don’t scrub them so hard that you remove the black prickles. A good way to get the dirt and bacteria off is to place the cucumbers in a clean big bowl with tablespoon of pickling salt and one tablespoon of white vinegar for a few minutes. Then, rinse them well under running water as you gently rub them.
Never use brass, copper or aluminum pots, pans or utensils for pickling. Any of these materials will give your pickles a strange taste and an undesirable color because the metals will react with vinegar and salt solutions. Use enameled, glass or stainless steel cookware. Stir with a wooden spoon and use a stainless steel slotted spoon. Do not use table salt when pickling. The iodine in the table salt will darken the brine and soften the pickles. Use a good pickling salt. The vinegar should be no LESS than 5 % acidity; it will say right on the label. Vinegar of unknown strength should not be used.
When making a simple solution of vinegar, salt and water, do not boil for more than 5 to 6 minutes unless otherwise directed in the recipe. A long boil weakens the strength of the vinegar. Always use fresh spices and herbs. Old ones will discolor the product and produce and also give them musty, strange flavors. Have fun pickling!
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