Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where's the Pickles?

There's an ultimate frisbee tournament coming up and I'm fresh out of pickles. If you've ever been to an ultimate frisbee tournament, you've probably seen the guys on the sidelines after a few games chugging pickle juice straight out of the jar. Pickle juice is widely believed by athletes (though not yet scientifically proven) to relieve muscle cramping. I like bringing my homemade pickles to the fields so that after they chug down some neon green Vlasic pickle juice, the guys can enjoy a fresh, tasty, wholesome pickle.

I picked up a few pounds of kirbys today at the Albany Food Co-op, and decided that they deserve not some pre-packaged, stale pickling spice, but a fresh, homemade pickling spice. So I made some. I adapted it from a blog called Girlichef. It's worth making your own pickling spice if only for the smell of the toasted coriander and mustard seeds crushed in a paper bag that will linger in your kitchen.

Juniper Pickling Spice

4 Tbs. whole black peppercorns
4 Tbs. mustard seeds
4 Tbs. coriander seeds
2 Tbs. crushed red chiles
2 Tbs. whole allspice berries
1 tsp turmeric
2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pcs.
24 bay leaves, crumbled
2 Tbs. juniper berries
1 Tbs. ground ginger

Lightly toast the first three ingredients in a small dry pan, slide them into a paper sack (like a brown lunch bag), and then roll over them with a rolling pin a few times. Combine cracked spices with remaining ingredients, mixing well. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container or glass jar. Then, make yourself some healing pickles. Best Dill Pickle Recipe as of May 2012 You'll need 4 or more pounds of kirbys; and at least four, if not six, canning jars. Make sure the jars and lids are squeaky clean. Some folks say you have to sterilize them, others take a short cut and put them in a dishwasher. I just do a very thorough wash with hot soapy water right before I begin the process. Soak whole kirbys in ice water for between 2-8 hours Make brine: 4 cups white vinegar 12 cups water 2/3 pickling salt 2 tbsp pickling spice 1 tsp turmeric 3 tbsp sugar Add to each jar: 2-4 cloves of garlic 2-4 sprigs of dill 1 tbsp of pickling spice 1/2 tsp turmeric While bringing the brine to a boil, cut the kirbys into spears. You don't want to do this beforehand because you want the pickles to stay crisp in the ice water til the very end. Pack the spears into the jars, and fill each jar to the top with the well-combined and boiling brine. Screw on the lids, and set onto tea towels until you hear the lids pop. Once they pop, the jars are sealed and can be stored at room temperature. If they don't pop, you need to refrigerate them and use them within a few weeks. Serve fresh from the fridge, or on ice from the jar on the frisbee field. : )

No comments: