No, this was not dinner. And I’ll get back to the dinners, I promise, but I’m woefully behind on my photos, and I’m still not feeling up to snuff, and I’m trying to catch up with my husband, and besides, so many of you asked about this pickle photo I figured this would be a good chance to give you the lowdown.
I made my first batch of pickles a few years back, in an attempt to deal with a bumper crop of cucumbers in our Brooklyn garden. They turned out so well, and were such a hit with friends and coworkers, that even though we no longer grow our own, in the years since I have started making batches of pickles as soon as cukes show up at the farmers’ market.
The recipe I started with first appeared in Bon Appétit magazine, though I’ve made a few modifications. For starters, I wasn’t able to find pre-packaged pickling spice way back when I made that first batch, so I mixed up my own, using equal amounts of brown mustard seed, black peppercorns, allspice, juniper berries, coriander and fennel seeds. Next, as a person who likes her pickles really sour, I cut the amount of sugar called for in half. Finally, for a little extra kick, I add extra garlic and place a few dried whole chiles in each jar. The end result are pickles with great crunch, good garlic flavor, and a little bit of heat at the finish.
These pickles are quick to make, they are incredibly easy, and they are, dare I say, addictive. Do try this at home.
Spicy Dills (adapted from Bon Appétit)
12 pickling cucumbers (I like Kirbys)
for the brine:
2 cups tap water
1¾ cups distilled white vinegar
¼ cup sugar, preferably superfine
8-10 fat garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1½ tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1½ teaspoons dill seed
½ – 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
4 pint jars or containers with tight-fitting lids
fresh dill sprigs
12 small whole dried chile peppers
Cut the cucumbers into spears, chunks or rounds and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the brine, stirring well to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the cucumbers to the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
After the cucumbers have soaked for 2 hours, divide them between the four jars. Place a few dill sprigs and three dried whole chiles in each jar, and add brine to cover the pickles. Lid them up and refrigerate for 10 days before eating.
The pickles will stay good in the refrigerator for up to a month.