I love summer time veggies, especially when a particular coworker of mine brings in fresh produce from his garden! We’re talking tomatoes, all kinds of different peppers, and of course, cucumbers. And I’m not talking like, regular grocery store sized cucumbers. I’m talking about cucumbers that are as long as the tip of my middle finger to my elbow long, and thick like a can of Pringles. Yeah, they were MASSIVE, and incredibly fresh! As some of you may have seen on Instagram, I was inspired to twist up your typical caprese salad by adding some beautifully crisp and light cucumber slices on top of the tomatoes to add an additional texture and heighten the freshness of the plate! (I also topped it with my secret salt from Israel because I’m obsessed and have been topping everything with it as of late.) It couldn’t have been more perfectly suited for the more sweaty summer nights we’ve had in Chicago!
But in addition to the normal produce he brought in, my coworker also brought in some very large pickling cucumbers, per the request of myself and my other coworker friend. See, he’s been making his own pickles for a couple of years now, and they are ALWAYS so scrumptious and perfectly balanced in brine and that short, sweet kick of heat. So naturally, I asked for the recipe so I could try it out myself, and not a week later, I had the recipe in hand and a couple of pickles to give it a go on my own!
The recipe he had been using is from kitchn (the recipe link will be added below), and it’s a great one because it has a few variations and troubleshooting techniques on getting a better pickle texture for any home cook who also has a fascination with canning/jarring in their own kitchen! Where my coworker got a little creative in the process was in adding additional heat in the form of a jalapeno, cut into fourths long-ways, and then inserting them along side the spears of cucumber he had cut. He also recommended leaving the jalapeno seeds out if you didn’t want them to get too hot.
The recipe is incredibly easy to follow, and incredibly easy to make! I don’t think it took more than 20 minutes to get the cucumbers cut, spices measured and divided, and the brine boiling. I did the refrigerator method because, lets be real, I love pickles too darn much that there’s no need for them to have a super long shelf life, but it didn’t seem too difficult to follow the full canning (boiling the jars after adding everything to them) method either. Perhaps for another day, another vegetable. I will also say, a good thing I thought to include in my preparations was a ruler, just so I could be as accurate and uniform about the size of the pickles. The recipe calls for AT LEAST a half inch of space between the top of the pickling brine & the lid of the jar, so I wanted to make sure my pickles were trimmed as evenly as possible.
Once my pickles were set, in the fridge they went for about 72 hours, though you shouldn’t have to wait that long. About 24 hours should do it, but I happened to be traveling over the weekend, so I just let them sit and pickle away just a little longer. But once we got back, I immediately went to the fridge to pull out a spear from my one spicy jar, and man, this recipe, it’s legit. I’ll even go so far as to say they are better than any pickle I’ve eaten from a jar, and perhaps may never go back to store bought pickles….okay, maybe not never, because now I have the task of finding a store that carries pickling cucumbers (or a farmer’s market where I can stock up for a bit), and if I want to make deep fried pickles, that might require the pre-cut rounds, or whole pickles to cut myself…so maybe not never, but I would rather now pickle myself than buy them if I can. I will say though, since I did test these out on my book group on Monday, if you’re not the biggest fan of garlic, or find garlic to be spicy for your palate, definitely only put one smashed clove per jar. I love garlic, and some of my cloves were kind of small, so I added about 2-3 for each jar.
So if you love your pickles, definitely take a half hour to try this out! I promise, you won’t regret it! —Cooking Maggie