I love pickles and you will too!
I Love Pickles! It never crossed my mind that I could pickle cucumbers and end up with the best spicy pickles I have ever had. I always thought it was way too complicated or that I needed special equipment. Well guess what? Pickling cucumbers can be very easy and quite therapeutic. You will need some mason jars so dig those out or run to Target to get them. I prefer the 16 ounce jars however I sometimes use 32 ounce jars.
Pickling can be easy.
About a year and a half ago my parents brought me some spicy pickles from a local farmers market. They were addictingly good. The only problem I had with the pickles was that they were a little salty. I began to play around with some simple pickling recipes, as a result I think I have come up with the best spicy pickle recipe.
Important steps when pickling
There are few things you need to do when pickling cucumbers. One that is very important is you must trim off the end that the cucumber that was previously attached to the plant. Cut about 1/16 of an inch off, I tend to cut 1/8 of an inch off both ends to be safe. There are enzymes that are in the end where the bloom was that are not good for you, also if not trimmed the pickles could become soft and mushy. You want a nice crisp when you bite into your pickles. Secondly you are going to need to brine your cucumbers to ensure a great crisp pickle.
Let’s prepare the cucumbers
Ok so lets’ getting to pickling. After you rinse your cucumbers, go ahead and slice the ends off. Decide if you want spears or discs. I tend to do both. I generally slice most into four spears. The last cucumber I will cut into discs. I lay them all over a cookie sheet and lightly sprinkle sea salt over them. I flip the dscs over and salt them on the other side. This is a way to do a quick brine and it removes the extra moisture to help create a crisp pickle. This also keeps the pickles from spoiling quickly. Leave the cucumbers all salted on the cookie sheet for thirty minutes to an hour. Next go ahead and rinse all of the salt off.
The science behind pickling
There is a whole science behind pickling. We are going to do a quick jar pickling process. For more in depth information on the science behind pickling see Fine Cooking’s article.
The fun seasonings that will make your pickles spicy
While the cucumbers are doing the “quick brine” you can start on the mixture that is going to turn the cucumbers into the best spicy pickles you have ever had. I have found mixing two vinegars with water is a good base. I use plain white distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar. If you only have one kind just go with it. So equal parts vinegar to tap water unless you live in Midland, Texas. If your tap water is not safe to drink use filtered water. Next add wasabi paste, chopped serranos or thai chili peppers, chopped garlic, mustard seeds, chopped green onions, fresh ginger and soy sauce. See recipe below for exact amounts of each.
Time to put everything into the jar
I use mason jars for my pickles. If you are doing spears fill the jar about 3/4 full of spears and then pour some of the seasoning and pickling mixture about 3/4 to the top of the spears. Go back and put as many spears as you can in the jar. If you are doing sliced discs fill jar about 3/4 way with discs and then pour mixture in to cover the discs then add a few more. If you need to top the jar off with more mixture to be sure they are all covered go ahead. Screw the top tightly on to each jar and give it a good shake to incorporate as much of the seasoning throughout the cucumbers.
Place each jar into the refrigerator. If you are likely to forget, put a note on each with the date so you remember when you started this process. After about 4 days go back and turn each jar upside down and give it a good shake. Place them upright back into the refrigerator for another 3 days. After a week has passed from the day you started your pickles, you can open up the jar and taste your spicy pickles. These should keep for a couple of months but my guess is they will be gone before then.
Pickles go with so many things
Pickles are the perfect match for so many things. A big sandwich on the weekend or a BBQ or pulled pork sliders. They are even good with chili!
- mason jars, 16 ounce or 32 ounce
- 1 pound pickling cucumbers
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup distilled vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, low sodium
- 1 Tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
- 7 cloves garlic minced
- 4 serranos, chopped
- 1/3 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
- salt for brining
- 1/4 inch wasabi paste optional so don't worry if you can't find it
- Clean and slice your pickling cucumbers
- It is important you buy pickling cucumbers! Wash your cucumbers, slice off the ends about 1/16 of an inch. This is important, you must trim the end the cucumber grew from the vine, but just go ahead and cut both ends to be sure. There are enzymes in the stem end that can cause pickles to get soft and be unsafe to eat. You can slice the cucumbers, vertically like spears ( I quarter them lengthwise) or across the width into discs. I do a little of both.
Brine your cucumbers
- Lay all of your slice cucumbers on rimmed cookie sheet. Sprinkle each slice with salt, for the discs flip them over and salt the other side. and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse each slice to remove the salt.
Mix up the rest of the ingredients to pickle the cucumbers
- Pour your vinegars and water into a bowl, add soy sauce, serranos, ginger, garlic, green onions, mustard seeds and wasabi paste (optional). Stir it all together.
Place cucumbers in mason jars
- Place about 3/4 of the cucumbers that will fit in a jar, pour or spoon the vinegar and water mixture into each jar. Fill up jar with as many cucumbers as you can and top each jar with the vinegar and water mixture to the top of the cucumbers. Tightly screw on the top and place each jar in the refrigerator for 7 days. If you think about it about mid way through your 7 days of pickling, turn jar upside down and give it a little shake to move seasonings around your pickles. Place upright in the refrigerator again until your original 7 days are over. After 7 days from beginning open your pickles and enjoy! They should stay good for a couple of months but I doubt you will have them that long, it is hard to not eat them all quickly.