I have no idea what possessed me to do this, but I’m trying to replicate the super-sour pickles they sell in the deli at the local PCC (hippy food coop for non-local readers). They’re terrific, but they’re somewhat fickle about supply, and I figured it would be fun learn to make ’em in case they stop stocking ’em. Also, watching too much Alton Brown on Food Network always make me want to try things in the kitchen.
Fortunately, Whole Foods had a few pickling cucumbers in the produce department, but this may be it for the season. I also bought the smallest normal cucumbers I could find, some fresh dill, and a couple of heads of garlic. Oh, and some canning jars. I got some funny looks in the checkout line — I guess not too many people do a lot of canning or pickling these days. At home, I made a solution of vinegar and water, upping the percentage of vinegar in the "normal" recipe, and packed the cleaned cucumbers into sterilized jars. I didn’t have enough whole small pickling cukes, so I mixed sliced normal cukes with pickling cukes in each jar, adding a bit more than a teaspoon of kosher salt for each jar. To all jars, I added dill sprigs, whole black peppercorns, brown mustard seeds, and a sprinkling of dried red pepper flakes. To half of the jars, I added halved garlic cloves to make "kosher" dills. The other half were left without garlic to make standard pickles. Then, fill the jars nearly to the brim (1/2 inch of room) with the vinegar/water solution and seal. Finally, simmer in a water bath for 15 minutes submerged.
They’re done at this point and labeled, and now I just need the jars to cool before I can put ’em in the "root cellar" for awhile. In a couple of weeks, I’ll open a jar and see whether they’re inedible, ho-hum, or an excellent substitute for my PCC pickle obsession!