6.29.10 In a Pickle
I'm excited for the 4th of July! Looking forward to our 3rd annual Pulled Pork Fest. We'll be smoking three Boston butts this year (plus a few kosher chickens) and we always have all the requisite fixings on hand. For North Carolina style, that means cheap white buns (I'll pass), cole slaw (two kinds, with and without mayonnaise), and pickles. Bread-&-butter are my favorites, though we'll also have dills since this is a New York crowd. This year, the pickles are homemade, and I've already gotten started because they're best when they can sit around for a few days, acquiring more flavor. I decided to make the bread-&-butters with alternative ingredients, and then I got all insecure and thought they came out too salty, and not sweet enough, and I got another 4 pounds of kirbys to make a new batch. But two independent taste testers convinced me otherwise, even after a side-by-side tasting with a jar of commercial pickles. Too sweet, they said. Not as interesting as yours. So here you go, bread-&-butter pickles made with a relatively small amount of rapadura sugar, raw cider vinegar and some traditional spices. I'm making the dills today, a lacto-fermented version, so I'll let you know how those turn out.
Kirbys are the classic pickling cucumbers. Many recipes call for what seems like a TON of onions; mine uses about half what seems to be traditional. Frankly, it's about the cucumbers for me. I don't really need a big mouthful of onion.
I now have a large collection of mason-type jars in many sizes. They are extremely handy for pickles and all manner of homemade concoctions. I'm even more obsessed with these "hermetic" jars, like the one above, which have the rubber ring and metal clasp. Can't have enough of them.
In the end, I'm rather proud of my pickles. I'm looking forward to eating them with a beautiful plate of pulled pork and cole slaw, but they are also delicious with any grilled meats, and with cheese. A grilled cheese sandwich made with sharp cheddar and a spoonful of these pickles on dark rye would be heaven!BREAD & BUTTER PICKLESmakes about 4 quarts (a gallon!!)3 1/2 pounds cucumbers, sliced ¼” thick (kirbys are best)2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced (walla walla or vidalia)2/3 cup kosher salt1 ¾-2 ¼ cups rapadura sugar (you gauge the sweetness)2 ¼ cups raw cider vinegar1 teaspoon ground turmeric1 teaspoon celery seeds3 tablespoons mustard seeds3 tablespoons coriander seedsIn a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours.In a pot, heat sugar, vinegar and spices until sugar has dissolved. Rinse cucumbers and onions lightly, and drain. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a few hours but will improve greatly in just 24-48.