Summer has arrived in Texas. That not only means I won't see an afternoon in the 70s or 80s until late October, but also that an abundance of summer goodies now fills my Community Support Agriculture box. I am so excited! No longer is the box dominated by greens and cabbage and yucky beets. Instead its filled with familiar favorites like potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, three varieties of summer squash and carrots. All things I know how to cook without consulting various websites and blogs.
The only snafu in all this new CSA glory is the abundance of both slicing and pickling cucumbers that arrive every other week. Now I love a good cucumber. I put them in salad, I love them raw with salt and vinegar, they are great on a sandwich or in a homemade tzatziki sauce, but there are only so many cucumbers a girl can eat. Especially when new ones arrive every two weeks. So I decided to give them some shelf life by making homemade pickles.
I started to consult cookbooks and websites, but decided this was the sort of recipe people may have inherited from their grandma or neighbor and started to asking friends and colleagues instead. One of my gracious co-workers shared just the recipe I was looking for as well as an abundance of jars for pickle storage. Thank you, Thank you.
Pickling may seem a bit intimidating, but much to my surprise it is really pretty easy. The only "specialty" ingredient you really need is pickling salt which is only about $1 a box and is found on the baking aisle of most big box grocery stores. The other tricky part is sterilizing and sealing the jars for food safety purposes. I used a really big stock pot instead of a canner to sterilize and seal my jars. I've also read that you can sterilize jars in the dishwasher by running them on the hot cycle without soap. The rest is really pretty straight forward and fast.
I am really proud of my pickles. They turned out great. They are crispy, spicy, and tangy. Plus they make a really quick and low calorie snack.
Spicy Garlic Pickles
*makes 3 medium sized jars
3 cups of water
3 cups of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
3 tablespoons pickling salt
2-3 cloves of garlic per jar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes per jar
6-8 pickling cucumbers
To sterilize jars first fill a large stock pot 3/4 full with water. Bring the water to a boil. Carefully place each jar and lit separately into the boiling water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars.
Meanwhile in a large sauce pot bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Slice the cucumbers into 1/4 inch rounds. Place 2-3 cloves of garlic (the amount of garlic depends on your like of garlic and the size of the cloves), the cucumber slices and the red pepper flakes in the sterilized jars. Ladle the hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers until they are covered by the liquid and tightly close the lids. Place the tightly sealed jars into the hot stock pot water and allow them to cook for a minimum of 5 minutes, some pickle people are more comfortable with 10 minutes (food safety issue), but 5 minutes should do the job and the pickles stay crispier.