One of the things that I love most about food blogging is the exchange of ideas about food preparation. Of course, I say this because I just have had a message from a fellow New England blogger about a question I asked of her concerning pickling. What a help it is to have friends 'in the know' to turn to for guidance when you're stepping out into new territory - I have made bread and butter pickles in the past, but they have not been the very best! Perhaps this year, I will get it right!
Pickling has always been a skill that I've wanted to hone. Silent Bob always plants cucumbers and beets, you see. When they start coming on from harvest, the counters are full and there is a basket with beets and their greens draping over the edges of the wicker. We eat our share for dinners, but there is always more that could be used! Hence, pickling.
My bread and butter pickle recipe comes from my grandmother via my mother. Mom always made pickles and they were always crispy and tart. I have struggled with processing time, as she always put them in a water bath to seal the jars. Hmmm... is it necessary, I wonder? There is an awful lot of salt in the intial brine that the cucumbers soak up. The sweet and tart spicy brine that goes in with the cucumbers and onions is cooked on the stovetop and then poured over the brined vegetables. I wonder if that's enough heat to get a good seal on the jars.
It's clear that I need to do more research in order to get a good result. My other big question is the variety of cucumbers used for pickles. Our cucumbers are larger, dark-skinned, and relatively smooth. Are they the right cukes for the job? Hmmm ... so many questions!
As for the beets, I had some gorgeous pickled beets at a haying party picnic a few weeks ago ... I'm going to see about getting that particular recipe. Stay tuned on that adventure!
In the meantime, it's been a long day of cleaning and dusting around the corners of the grey cottage and I'm going to watch an old movie ... about pickles ... well, kinda. 'Crossing Delancy' is popped into the DVD player. Popcorn and a movie ... see ya!