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Pickle me this

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Over the past few months, I’ve developed a bit of a taste for dill pickles, and I had this idea way in the back of my ever-so-tiny brain that I might want to make a batch of super-hot, garlic infused dills. Where did I get such an idea? I just don’t know. Yesterday we visited friends in Paris, Ontario and stopped at an excellent market on the way home. When I walked in the first thing I saw were baskets of perfect pickling cucumbers, and before thinking something sensible, like: you don’t know anything about making pickles, fool – I bought a basket. I’ve never made pickles before. Fortunately, there are instructions for doing everything on the interwebs. Unfortunately, there are a lot of conflicting instructions, way too many recipes and there is a good deal of bad advice available. Did I let this dissuade me? No way.

There are two basic streams in dill pickle-making. One way is the old-school deli pickle, often known as kosher pickles, in which a brine is used to ferment the pickles with no vinegar added. The brine keeps the bad bacteria away and encourages the good bacteria, which metabolizes the sugar in the vegetable, producing lactic acid as a byproduct, making the pickles sour. These pickles are not “canned”. Instead they are kept cool after the fermentation process.

Sorry if I upset any traditionalists but I didn’t make my pickles that way. Instead I chose door number two and went with pickles made with vinegar and “canned”.  In this process it is the acetic acid in vinegar that imparts the sour flavour to the pickle. I will take my lumps without attempting to explain why I chose this approach. I don’t even have a good reason for going one way rather than the other. Besides, it would be like explaining to a traditionalist fly fisherman that you just bought a boron composite fly rod instead of bamboo and you planned to fish with streamers instead of dry flies. It can’t end well.

I used a variety of pickling spices, lots of fresh garlic (from the garden), some fresh ginger, fresh dill and dill seeds, plenty of jalapenos, as well as a bunch of Thai chilies. My plan was to make fiery pickles. As well as the cucumbers, I also added chunks of zucchini from the garden, just because I could.

I made 7 jars of pickles. The plan is to wait at least a couple weeks before cracking one open and sampling. Hopefully, they’ll taste pretty good. I don’t plan on making any more pickles this year. Maybe I’ll do it again at some point in the future. If our tomato crop turns out to be as big as it looks like it’s going to be, I may make some tomato sauce or freeze some tomatoes later in the season. One of my neighbours told me about how she makes garlic/pesto ice cubes, and since we have lots of basil this year, I may try that too.

 

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