Friday, October 21, 2016

Sweet & Spicy Pickles

My first batch of pickle relish was a success!  I found the brine to be a little sweet and it definitely could use some kick.  I don't have much spice tolerance myself but Keith and the rest of his family loves spicy food.  I decided to take the same recipe I did before up a notch with some jalepenos and red pepper flakes.

Some of the stem ends of my cucumber are bitter tasting.  Apparently this could be due to the near drout conditions the fruit has seen this summer.  I water my garden every morning, but sometimes by evening the pots have completely dried out.  Cutting a few inches off of the end (and taste testing) removes the bitterness and left me with enough cucumbers to make my pickles.  Only a couple of the pickles were affected this time.

I promise that I won't share every single canning batch I ever attempt with you, but since this blog is my lab notebook of sorts I want to keep track of what I did so I can try to replicate it in the future.

  • ~2 quarts sliced cucumbers 
  • 2 cups sliced yellow onions (about 2 small onions)
  • ~1 cup sliced jalapenos (4 peppers)
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt 
  • 3.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1.5 T celery seed
  • 1.5 T mustard seed
  • 1.5 T red pepper flakes
  • pickle crisps - one pinch per jar (yes I have a measuring spoon for this - it is 1/16 of a tsp)
I am very nervous to slice the jalapenos.  Many years ago, my roommate was slicing jalapenos and then touched her eye.  She was in severe pain for hours and I don't want this to happen to me or my kids.  Therefore, I decided to wear gloves when slicing these peppers.  

I increased the volume of vinegar and decreased the amount of sugar.  I hope to have some left over brine to make some more refrigerator pickles, even if that means that I have to purchase some cucumbers! Other than the proportions, I followed the instructions from the sweet pickle relish recipe I used before.  

I had Keith taste one of the cucumber slices after the 2 hours of soaking and he said that he could already taste some spice!  I hope that I didn't go overboard with the amount of heat... I ate an onion and could handle it.  This may not be the best indication about how spicy these pickles are but at least it might not be totally overpowering.  

I'm a lot less stressed with this batch than I was with the last one.  Of course, I'm worried about giving someone food poisoning.  Or I'm worried about making a jar of mush.  This is why I have a small jar with only a few pickles in it so we can test it in a month or so.  I boiled the jars for 10 minutes in pre-sterilized jars. 

I ended up with 4 pints of pickles plus a few slices in another jar for tasting in a month or so.  All of the jars sealed perfectly.  I also had enough brine left over to make some refrigerator pickles!  I cut a cucumber into spears and then let it soak in the cool brine overnight before tasting them.  Sweet and spicy, but low enough spice that I could handle it.  (When Lucky tasted the pickle he said that it made his mouth hurt - but he didn't cry or seem unhappy.)  They definitely have a kick but something with a low spice tolerance can handle them.  However, Keith said that the cooked pickles were MUCH spicier.  We'll have to see what happens after they've had time to cure.  

Pickles finished 8/25/16