Thursday, January 19, 2012

Broken Glass, Blood and Pickles

It seems some higher power decided that one day last week was to be broken glass day in our house. My husband came home from a trip to the store to find that the light fixture cover in our bedroom closet had shattered (or fallen and shattered? we're still not sure) into several hundred pieces. It was everywhere. I'm still finding random shards over a week later and I'll need to be very careful the next time I put on my Uggs, just in case I missed any.

When I got home later, Jake was craving the chocolate-covered cherries from Sprouts that my mother had put in his Christmas stocking so off we went to get them...and about $60 worth of random stuff that we apparently just had to have. Isn't that always how it works? One of the impulse purchases was a large jar of Nathan's kosher pickles (I've been thinking about kosher pickles for about a week so perhaps it wasn't that impulsive.) and when I tried to open them, the lid just would not budge, so I did what I always do and reached for a butter knife and proceeded to hit the top of the lid in various places to loosen the seal.

But the lid still wouldn't budge. Even Jake (who has a near perfect track record with husbandly duties like opening stubborn jars and retrieving objects out of my reach) was unsuccessfull in attempting to liberate the pickles. So I picked up the knife and hit it a bit harder.
Oh yes, the jar broke. Glass and pickle juice went all over the counter..and the floor...and me...and my clothes. All I could do was stand there for a minute with this look of utter confusion on my face as the pickle juice ran down the kitchen cabinets and then start to laugh, even as a mixture of blood and pickle juice was dripping from my thumb.

So to indulge my love of pickles with (hopefully) less glass, I decided to make my own. I'd heard that it's not a hard process, and when I looked at the ingredient list and directions online it didn't look all that tough; the only thing that gave me pause was the pickling spices. We're talking 10-12 spices, some of which sounded a bit hard to come by. Lucky for me, Central Market had a pre-made pickling spice mix in their bulk section so I didn't need to make my own, at least this time around.

I used the recipe David Lebovitz adapted from Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking, and here's how it went.

I scrubbed 12 or so pickling cucumbers.

Cut up all the cucumbers. I like pickle chips for veggie burgers and halves for munching.

Brought 1 L and 6 T salt to a boil.
Stirred it until the salt dissolved, then added another 3 L of water.
Packed the pickles into glass jars I'd already sterilized with boiling water.
*I didn't think about the glass being hot until I tried to pick it up. Ouch.*

I distributed the garlic, pickling spices and fresh (washed) dill among the jars.

Poured in the salt water brine to cover the pickles, and stored them in my laundry room for about 3 days.

All in all, it was pretty easy. I did it on a Thursday night after work, before another cooking project and had plenty of time. 

When I checked on them Monday night all three jars had white-ish substance floating on the top. I did some reasearch into this and found different answers. One site said that the white scum should be removed daily (which obviously I didn't do since I didn't know it could happen), another said the pickles are still safe to eat once the white scum is removed at the end, as long as they aren't soft and squishy (which indicates the presence of microorganisms), but I won't be risking it.

For more info about common pickling problems:

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