23 September 2009
I know, I know, my post titles are getting increasingly creative. I guess when the posts feel so straightforward, I'm just not sure what else to call them. You know, other than "pickles". And then, of course, there won't be any confusion regarding the topic of my post.
So, yeah, I made some pickles. I have always LOVED pickles. Seriously....loved. When I was in high school, and my friends and I would end up at some all night diner at two in the morning, I would generally order a side of pickles. For real. But I only like the real sour ones. The ones that make you cringe. In fact, at the State Fair last summer, one of the exciting new foods was pickle juice popsicles (I like to refer to them as picklesickles). Sadly, I never found them at the fair, but I'm still thinking about them!
This year, with all my preserving, I really wanted to try making some good kosher dill pickles. The first thing I needed to learn was what the heck the difference between dill and kosher dill was. I learned that kosher dill has garlic, while regular dill, well, doesn't have garlic. The first batch I made was using the recipe from the old Joy of Cooking. I bought a new copy of the Joy a few years ago, thinking that any self-respecting cook/baker absolutely needed a copy. Then, after my grandma passed away and I moved to Minneapolis, I received no less than seven boxes full of kitchen supplies (I could seriously bake 5 angel food cakes, 3 bundt cakes, 3 dozen muffins, and maybe eight other cakes without washing a single pan). And one whole box was full of her old cookbooks, including a 1964 version of the Joy. I soon discovered that the older Joy had way more recipes for things like preserves and skinning squirrels. You know, the important stuff. So anyways, the newer Joy has no pickle recipes, the older one does.
The recipe for kosher dill pickles from the 1964 Joy of Cooking tells you to add to the cucumbers and brine: peeled and sliced garlic cloves (which do not go in the jars, just in the brine) dill seeds and peppercorns. I made two quarts of this type of pickle. Then my boss started talking about spicy polish dill pickles that she used make when she was a kid. This sounded intriguing, so I got to searching for a recipe, and found this one. And then proceeded to make eight pint jars of this type. The only adjustment to the recipe was that in a few jars I used fresh whole hot red peppers (the recipe calls for either dried whole or flakes) and in the rest I used flakes.
This was back in July. I have since tasted both types and the verdict is definitely in favor of the spicy polish dills. The kosher dills were still a bit sweet when we cracked open the jar last week. They might need some more time to get more sour, so I'm not opening the second jar for a few more months. Also, they were totally mushy. Ick! I did read in Putting Food By (after the fact) that putting a whole grape leaf or cherry leaves (which might be easier, since I have access to a cherry tree!) in the jar with the pickles helps to keep them crisper. The spicy polish dills were definitely spicy, but not burn your mouth off spicy. They were not as crisp as I would have liked, but were way crisper than the kosher dills. And, as a plus, you get to chomp on a spicy pickled pepper! The other thing I liked better about the spicy vs. kosher is that you use fresh dill, and leave the garlic cloves in the jars. I might try that next year in the kosher dills, making them essentially the same as the spicy polish minus the hot pepper, for the lighthearted folks out there. We'll see.
I was really hoping to pickle some other veggies, like string beans, after discovering recently that I like other pickled things! I'm hoping to get the book, Wild Fermentation, from the library soon, and try making sauerkraut! (Though actually, the author does have a basic recipe on the website...).
What are your favorite pickles/sauerkraut/other fermented foods to make??