I have this…thing about groceries. Or rather, it’s really a thing about time management. I am entirely in favor of buying local, though I don’t usually buy organic simply because it’s not in my budget. I need to suppress myself from pointing out to organic food proponents, though, that there’s a reason things like pesticides are in wide circulation.
It’s so those of us who don’t find the time to cook every day don’t get to a bag of small cucumbers four days after purchase and find that all of them have black spots.
Nevertheless, if there was a better reason to make a batch of pickles, I can’t see it. I’m a cucumber fiend, thanks largely to a semester in Russia where they’re one of the only green veggies available all winter, and I will happily make a meal out of slices of ‘aguryets’ with just some salt on them. Having said that, I also think there’s no higher calling for these rather plain vegetables than pickling. From a jar or beside my burger, I’m a dill fan all the way, but bread and butter pickles have a special place on my plate.
Not having my grandmother’s recipe handy, I adapted Deb Perelman’s from the much-beloved Smitten Kitchen. You may notice that a lot of my recipes come from her site. I’m a child of the Internet; I like sources with personable writing, searchable archives, awesome pictures, funny little links to pictures of an adorable two-year-old. Plus, to misquote Jung, there’s a collective unconscious of recipes; no matter what you come up with, someone’s done it before, or something very similar. When I come up with an original recipe worth posting, you’ll be the first to know! (Especially if I manage to recreate that challah sourdough I made one time completely by accident. The boyfriend insists it’s one of the best things I ever cooked. Since one of the steps was “leave dough in the fridge for four days while you go work on papers”, I am dubious.)
I’ve digressed again. Pickles! They’re awesome. Or at least, I assume they are, not having tried them yet…<pause> Yep, they’re definitely getting there, despite having only been in the fridge for an hour. They’ll be much better tomorrow, and as to whether they make it past the weekend…I’m not laying any bets.
Bread and Butter Pickles:
- Rinse out old dill pickle jar from Safeway. Thoroughly. Realize jar is one-and-a-half quarts, and recipe makes one quart; do requisite math.
- Slice giant bag of cucumbers from farmer’s market, about 1/4 inch thick. I, thoughtlessly, did not keep track of the number of kirby cucumbers I used to fill the jar. However, seeing as how I sliced bad spots off of all of them, your mileage would be different anyway. I filled the jar, loosely, to about half an inch from the base of the neck.
- Thinly slice one large onion. The recipe calls for a sweet onion; I used a red one, because that’s what I had on hand and because I thought the colors would be pretty together.
- Pile cucumbers and onion slices into large bowl. Mix in a little less than 1/4 cup of salt if using Morton’s, a little more if using Diamond. (Why? Read this. The things you learn, ladies and gentlemen!) Cover with ice cubes, and let sit for two hours. Go watch live-cast of Washington Nationals game and mostly forget about cooking for a bit.
- Pour 3/4 cup of vinegar and 3/4 cup of sugar into small saucepan. Add small handful of mustard seeds (1 heaping tablespoon would do it, but I just emptied out my jar), 1 teaspoon of coriander, dash of turmeric, and few grindings of Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. (The last was not in the recipe, but my own suggestion.) Bring mixture to a boil. Remember to turn on fan so smell of boiling vinegar does not choke housemates.
- Drain cucumbers and onions and pour into jar. Pour in hot vinegar mixture, close jar, and stick in fridge.
- Leave it be. This Game of Thrones episode isn’t going to watch itself, after all. 🙂