Sad as it is, summer is slowly coming to an end, and in my head it is time to pickle! Which is not sad at all. The pickling I mean. The urge to preserve and can fruits and vegetables is in my blood ( my momma would say) because this is what we did every single end of summer back in sunny Transylvania. There would be days just collecting all the juicy, tasty, ripened veggies from the garden, washing them clean and then out would come the chopping boards, jars, salt, spices and vinegar and then it would be pickling time for days! Back at home we would make many many types of pickles because there are lots of vegetables to work with and there is a big pantry where to keep the pretty jars and because winter is long and pickles are a great source of vitamins – when there is no fresh stuff around. Here in America I didn’t go all that crazy and just made couple of jars of my favorite pickles. I made three kinds to be precise. Maybe four. They are all cucumber-y and sweet and sour and spicy and oh so very tasty. I know it already without trying them all. How? Because my Mom’s recipes I trust, and because I just know. And so you should trust me 🙂
Pickle #1 QUICK PICKLE
This pickle is called QUICK PICKLE because it is done in three days so you don’t have to wait three-four weeks to eat them. Yay! It is also very simple to make. You will need cucumbers, salt, water, dill and one ( yes one) slice of bread. Oh, and lots of sunshine 🙂 I only made one 5 quarts jar full and I used about 14 cucumbers.
Wash the cucumbers and the dill. Cut both ends of the cucumbers then slice into it lengthwise, but not quite till the end. Now turn the cucumber around and slice into it from the other end too. It should look like this:
Start warming the salty water. For every 5 cups of water you will need 2 tablespoons of salt. Put the dill in the bottom of the jar. Pretty.
Place the cucumbers in the jar. Pour the warm salty water over them.
Now it comes the trick. Get one slice of bread. I used rye bread because that is what i had at home. Toast it slightly. Put it over the cucumbers, into the salty water. Interesting. Put a small plate on top of it and put it out on the sun. If you have no access to direct sunlight, find the warmest spot in your kitchen. Put it there.
Pickles sunbathing! Fun! Now wait for three days. On the second day the water should start to get unclear and cloudy. Something like this. This is a great sign. It means that fermentation begun!
End of second day take the brad off. Let it sit on the sun for 2 more days. I know you really want to try it now, so go ahead. If you like it slightly more pickled leave it for another day. I dug into mine after 3 days and finished half of the jar by the fourth day. Haha. To stop further fermentation I removed them from the jar, rinsed them and put them in the fridge in a glass food container. Enjoy!
MURATURA ( the original name of this deliciousness) is slightly fancier than the first one, it also takes longer time to make and ferment. It is worth it though! For this one too you will need cucumbers, but you will also need other kinds of tasty veggies: cabbage, onions, carrots, hot peppers, cauliflowers, garlic. My mom uses a variety even bigger than that, but I decided to keep it simple. Somewhat simple 🙂 You will also need water, salt, whole pepper corns and yellow mustard seeds.
Put the salty water to boil. Again, the ratio is: 5 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of salt. Warm as much water (or more ) you think you will need to cover the vegetables. When it boils, set it aside. It will need to cool completely. Get your vegetables ready. Wash them thoroughly.
Now chop. Chop chop chop. Make them pretty! For this one I didn’t cut the cucumbers, but I cut the carrots, the cauliflower, the cabbage the onions and the hot peppers too.
Get the jars ready. Line the bottom of them each with about 1 teaspoon of peppercorns and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed.
Now put the veggies in the jars. Make sure that you will have even distribution. Make them pretty! Be creative.
Pour the cold salt water over the vegetables. Have your husband take pictures of this. At last you don’t have to manage EVERYTHING + hold the camera with one hand.
Put the lids on the jars, but don’t tighten them yet! Let is sit in your kitchen for three days before tightening the lids and then wait another 3 weeks before eating them. I know. Three weeks. On the third day though the magic begins. See? They start to get cloudy. Good sign! Now patience dear ones, patience.
Pickle # 3.
SSSS PICKLES ( Sweet, Sour, Salty, Spicy) or 4S PICKLES
I just came up with this name! Realizing that these pickles have no name 🙂 Clever, hm? So this is the last recipe for the day and the reason why I am giving you this one too is because this one is different from the first two. Those only had salt in the pickling water, but this one has salt, vinegar and sugar. They are extra tasty!
For this pickle I used cucumbers, red bell peppers, onions and lots of hot peppers. I like it spicy! Plus water, salt, sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, black pepper corns, bay leaves, dill and some of my secret Transylvanian herb ” csombor” that you can’t get here in the States. But the pickles should turn out delicious never the less! Put the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle them with salt generously. Let is sit overnight. They should soften and lose some moisture. Next day wash and chop the vegetables. You can use your imagination regarding shapes and forms. The point is to have them chopped.
Put peppercorns, mustard seeds, 1 bay leaf, some dill in the bottom of the jar. Put the chopped vegetables into the jar. Arrange them pretty! Mix and match the ingredients. In one of these jars I put sliced cucumbers, onions and jalapenos but in the other ones I only put cucumbers. Up to you 🙂 What do You like?
Make the pickling water. Add 6 cups of water, 2 1/2 cups of vinegar, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of salt. Boil it. If you are making more pickles, double the amount. The above recipe is just to show the ratio of the ingredients. Pour carefully the still very hot water over the vegetables. Seal the jars right away. Wait for 4 painful weeks before opening them. Be patient 🙂
So that is my version of preserving summer in a jar 🙂 Another version is when I make apricot jam. But that will be another post, another day. Bye