Well it looks like I started something. After my last blog about Pickles I was questioned by friends and family members about the pickle recipes that I listed. They all wanted to know why I did not post this pickle or that pickle. I told them that my blog had been part 1 of multiple pickle blogs. I would try to get their favorite in this blog. Mary Lynn and I along with my cousin Don Johnson were trying to figure out the name of a pickle that was always served at old family dinners, and special occasions. They all seemed to taste pretty much the same. We drove ourselves crazy till one of us remembered the name. I don’t remember who it was but it help get that off our minds. The name was Crisp Pickles.
The recipe for Crisp Pickle is relatively simple. You don’t need to do many elaborate things to make a batch of these pickles. This alone may be the many reason for this pickle showing up on many tables. The first ingredient you need for any type of pickle is good fresh cucumbers. Small cucumbers make small pickles but are not the best for crisp pickles. Crisp pickles are slices of cucumber, not whole, so the best for this recipe is a medium to even large one. You don’t need a mandolin to make pickles, but they do make the best pickles. Mandolins are not expensive for just a basic one, but the better ones have different attachments to do more that just slicing. I have a photo showing mandolins from the very basic then to the one is most expensive and then the best for home use. The basic slices and that pretty much covers it. The next slices and gives you more than one type of cutting as well as the thickness of the cut. Also you see the gripper that holds the item you are slicing. This is important, take it from me, you need something holding the item. If you just use your fingers, you run the risk of slicing your fingers. The voice of experience tells you to use the holder, even if you don’t think you need it. Well that I hope covers the equipment needed.
Now back to making the pickle. Let’s get cooking! The recipe is pretty much the same for every bodies crisp pickle. Some people add a few things and others stick to the basics: Crisp Pickles: Start with 6 cups sliced cucumbers (3 pounds), 3 1/2 cups sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, 3 tablespoons pickling spice (in your grocery store spice sections), 1 quart white vinegar, 3 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds. Combine vinegar, sugar, cinnamon sticks and pickling spice. Bring to boil. Pack 16 ounce canning jars with prepared cucumber slices and 1/4 teaspoon mustardf seed and pour hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch air space on top. Use probe to remove excess bubbles. Place domes and rings on jars after cleaning the rim with damp paper towel. Process in water bath 10 minutes with at least 2 inches water over the top of the jars. Carefully remove and let set overnight. Check to make sure the jars are sealed. Jars that did not, need to have new dome after you reclean the rim. Then reprocess in boiling water bath. I like my pickles cold, so I keep mine in the fridge. Let your jars set for at least a week to have the best taste. The way you serve yours is up to you. You can make these pickles hot by adding thick slices of jalapeño‘ peppers to the bottom of the jars before you add the cucumbers. The amount of heat is up to you, more heat more slices. The jalapeno’ slices also have a great taste when you empty the jar. I have never made this recipe using jalapeno’ peppers, but I am guessing the results would be pretty good. If you do, please let me know how you like them and what your recipe was. I will relay this to my blog readers.
Another old-time favorite in the South is Pickeled Okra. To make this pickle you need small to medium okra pods. The best place to find this is your local farmers market or whole foods store. At the farmers market you will probably buy from the grower, so ask for small pods to pickle. They may even make you a basket of small pods if you promise to bring them back a jar or two. Wash your okra and let them dry before you start. Pickled Okra: 12 pounds okra (about 1/2 bushel), 1 gallon cider vinegar, 1 gallon water, 1 1/2 cups canning salt (sea or kosher works), 24 cloves peeled garlic, 24 fresh sprigs dill, 12 teaspoons dill seeds, 12 teaspoons dill weed if fresh not available, use dried. In each jar put 1 sprig dill, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon dill weed. Manually add the okra. Turn some upside down to get the jar filled. Pack okra into jars careful to stay below 1/2 inch line. Heat the vinegar, water and salt to boil. Keep on low while you fill jars. Remember not to go above the line (1/2 inch below top of jar). Tap out any air bubbles. Add domes and rings like above recipe. Process in water bath for ten minutes. Move the processed jar to cooling racks and then to a cool dry spot to age. Age for 2 weeks. Then serve. The taste is awesome. I noticed when I ate the smaller pods that I ate the whole pod, top and all. Bigger pods tend to have a tough top.
To make Hot Pickled Okra I added some cayenne peppers, I would have used fresh, but I didn’t have any. Dried peppers work in place of fresh but use less because when they are dried the flavor and the heat increase. As you can see in the photo, I put the cayenne peppers in with the okra, They fit nicely between the pods. You can use jalapeno’ peppers or even Habanero peppers that is up to you. Each pepper changes the taste, so try different kinds to find the one you like best.
While I am in the unusual pickles group, let keep going with something that has gained a place in our family hall of fame, Dilly Beans. I have to tell you a short story about how Mary Lynn and I become familiar with Dilly Beans. We were vacationing in New Orléans, staying in the French Quarter. The place rocks at night, but the afternoons are a little more subdued. We use the afternoons for boat rides and buggy rides around town. One afternoon we decided to rest and recover from our walks around Jackson Square. That is the place you see on TV all the time. Big park with a fence around and a big statue of General Jackson on his horse. We picked a little bar/sandwich shop. We sat at the bar/counter and talked with the bartender. He was placing a few items in his Bloody Mary drinks. I asked him just what he was doing, as all I had ever seen in the drink was a celery stalk. He said that he put three or four Dilly Beans in the drinks. He said that customers ate the beans while they drank the bloody mary. He said it accomplished two things. The first was it kept his garbage can from being full of celery sticks and second: the dilly beans made people want more to drink. This was a double positive for him. He told us about making the beans and little hints. When we got home we made our first jars of dillies. We tried them on our guinea pigs: our family. They were a great hit. We knew just how much they liked the beans when we went to a softball game for my oldest niece, Stephenie. She was getting ready to bat in the late innings of the game, the score was tied. We told her that if she hit a home run she would get a whole jar of dillies as a prize. She came thru with a monstrous hit, as she was rounding third base on the way home she jumped in the air and yelled “Dilly Beans” when she hit home plate. Mary Lynn took the jar over to her as she sat in the dugout. Steph opened the jar and all her team mates helped he eat the entire jar. After the game they all came over and wanted more beans. This was the response we wanted. We opened a few more jars and the girls made short work of them. Mary Lynn got busy and made several cases for our next craft show. Dillie Beans became a staple for our increasing business. One more story about Bloody Mary drinks. Saw this on the food channel last night, they said that the “Best”Blody Mary’s they had drunk had a little pickle juice added to the drink. So maybe the juice from a few Dilly Beans made the drink taste better. I guess I will have to be a guinea pig and try this. The things I put my self thru for my blog readers.
If you want a little variety in the looks and taste of your dillies, use different color beans, to get a rainbow effect. You should be able to find white beans as well as the green in your local market. The purple colored beans might be a little harder to find. But just using two colors is very attractive. You can just let your creative genes take over. Well before I get to far along, here is the recipe that we use, you might want to change it, but if you do the flavor is going to change. Try my recipe first then decide what you like best. Dilly Beans: 4 pounds green beans, cut to size of jar minus 1/2 inch, 3 cups white vinegar, 3 cups water, 2 teaspoons cayenne powder (Important, don’t leave out), 1 /4 teaspoon to each jar, 7 peeled garlic cloves (1 for each jar), 7 sprigs dill (fresh is very important) 1 per jar, 4 teaspoons dill seeds 1/2 teaspoon per jar, 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes (again don’t leave out of first batch), 1/4 teaspoon per jar, 6 tablespoons salt kosher or canning. Carefully pack jars . Combine vinegar, water, and salt bring to boil. To each jar add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder, 1 clove garlic, fresh dill, and 1/4 teaspoon dill seed, 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes. Pack prepared jars with beans and pour hot liquid over, be sure to leave 1/2 inch air space on top. Take probe and remove excess air bubbles. Process 20 minutes in water bath. If you want a hotter bean add what ever pepper that you enjoy at the beginning. As the beans pickle they will also become hotter. Something I like to do and you might try this is, when I store my jars I remove the rings. I wash them and let them dry then store in a baggie till I need one for a jar. This keeps the rings looking nice. Jars with vinegar somehow leak the vinegar, this make the rings rust. They look ugly, so I store them then add when necessary.
Just when I was getting in a groove. I have several different types of pickles to write about, Garlic, Watermelon, Squash, Pickle Relish. Guess that means a third blog on pickles. Not next, I will come back another time. I look and my count is getting pretty high. I would like to ask you for ideas; things you want to read about. Things you might have tasted and would like to make yourself. Maybe even something you remember from growing up that still holds a special place in your heart. Let me know what it is, I will try to come up with the best way I can find to help you with your wants or needs. I will try to help you along, just tell me what you need.
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