Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Perfect Pickle

Friends, lovers, Maytag Repairmen, I present to you The Perfect Pickle!

Cue the singing angels now…

Perfect bread and butter picklesIt has taken me 4 years to get to this point. Great pickles, even simply good pickles require a delicate balance of three elements: brine, salt, and crunch. Technically, you could say it’s just two elements because salt is an element of the brine, but I digress.

If any one of those elements are not just right, then it’s all for naught. The frustrating part is you never know if you have a good pickle or a lousy pickle until they age a little bit. By that time, pickling cuke season is over and you have to wait till next year to try again. In the meantime, you’re stuck with a gazillion jars of meh.
These pickles are ready to eat in about a week. Trust me...you won't be able to stop once you start!

Kathy’s Perfect Bread and Butter Pickles
Recipe modified from: The Joy of Pickling
Makes 6 quarts

5-6 pounds pickling cukes
8 cups cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
1 tsp celery seeds
*1/3 to ½ cup pickling salt
10-12 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
¼ cup whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole cloves
7-9 teaspoons calcium chloride (aka Pickle Crisp), optional

*Note: Start with 1/3 cup and add salt to taste. I ended up using ½ cup.

Wash cukes and remove the blossom ends. Cut cukes into large slices/chunks. Set aside.

In a large pot, combine vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and salt to taste. Combine spices and tie up in a cheesecloth sachet or large, metal teaball. Add spice sachet to brine and bring brine to a boil. Lower temperature and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove spice sachet and set aside. Add sliced cucumbers to the brine and slowly bring back to a boil.

Once reaching a boil, remove brine with cucumbers from stove and add calcium chloride; stir well. Using a slotted spoon, pack cucumber into prepared jars, adding 1 allspice berry and 2 cloves to each jar from the spice sachet. Ladle hot brine in jars, leaving ½ inch headspace.

Process jars in a BWB for 10 minutes.

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