Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's a Pickle Party!


PICKLES!  Pickles, pickles, pickles!!!  Oh how I love them.  Just thinking about pickles makes me want to do a happy dance, so just use your imagination to conjure up your best of image of what I do when I actually eat one.  And just look at the word "pickle," doesn't it make you want to giggle?  

Pickles have been a favorite food of mine since childhood when I used to eat them by the jar.  Literally.  (As I mentioned before, I am not sure how my mom let me get away with this, or how my stomach could handle digesting an entire jar of pickles.  Children are tough.)  I would eat all varieties of pickles: Kosher, zesty dill, bread and butter, spears, hamburger slices, and especially those giant deli pickles that they pull out of the huge glass jar at the local sandwich shop.  No dill spear was safe from the voracious appetite of The Little Cilantropist.  Pickles are an old-fashioned food that I associate with home, and comfort, and a casual, fun sort of eating, and it looks like I am not alone


Now that I am all grown up (or at least I am often seen masquerading as an adult), I still eat pickles with gusto, although not by the jarful any longer.  Instead, I get my fix through pedestrian supermarket-variety pickles and dill spears that accompany the occasional sandwich or cheeseburger when I eat out.  Since I think I am a pickle addict at heart, I began to wonder if this was really enough pickle-eating to get by.  You see, I have recently felt like something was missing in my life, and I think that thing is The Pickle.  


Notice that I used a few capital letters there when I referred to The Pickle.  I did that on purpose, to specifically delineate the olive-green, less-than-crunchy, Vlasic-type pickle, from The Bright-Green, Full-of-Flavor, Homemade-Type Pickle.  In fact, these homemade pickles really shouldn't even share the same name as those knock-offs crowding the shelves of giant supermarket chains; but alas, a pickle by any other name might not really be a pickle at all (plus, I don't actually have any power or influence to change the names of foods), so for now these are Pickles with a capital P.
          

And also for now, I am going to do everything with the little power that I do have (which is really just these words on my tiny little webspace) to convince you that if you have even the slightest liking for pickles, you should absolutely give one of these recipes a try.  When I ate one of these I think my world shifted a little bit, to become more pickle-centric.  

Starting out with bright, fresh pickling cucumbers ensures you get a hearty crunch that is often sorely lacking in those mass-produced varieties.  Additionally, all of the fresh herbs and spices mean your pickles truly have a beautiful, appealing flavor instead of just sodium and preservatives.  And making them yourself really couldn't be easier, so you can enjoy a fresh pickle any time.         


So which ones should you make?  When I decided that Pickles were missing from my life and I went in search of recipes, I couldn't decide on just one type; naturally, I embraced that indecisiveness and made two different varieties (actually three if you count the pickled onions).  The first recipe I came across was Nicole Dula's Refrigerator Dill Pickles; looking at her recipe was actually the moment when I realized that I just had to have pickles.  I liked her recipe since it didn't require any cooking of the cucumbers, and it seemed quick and easy.  Browsing through some other sources, I noticed that one or two bloggers also mentioned they enjoyed Deb's Pickled Red Onions; of course I navigated over to her site and was immediately sold by the bright pink color.  And lo and behold, Deb also had some amazing looking Bread and Butter Pickles!  I quickly decided that I would have a little pickle party and just make all three recipes.       



I have to say that I was just tickled (or pickled) pink with all three recipes.  The dill pickles and the onions were sour in a way that was intense but not mouth-puckering, and the bread and butter pickles had the perfect amount of sweetness for my liking. Since I have never made homemade pickles before, I made each of the recipes almost exactly as they were originally written, and I simply included the links along with some notes on any small changes or suggestions below. 

Without a doubt, this first pickle-making party was a smashing success, and it definitely re-awakened my previous obsession.  When the scent of the pickles wafted to my nose, The Little Cilantropist in my head resurfaced and urged me to eat the whole jar (especially those bread and butter ones, they are like crack); unfortunately for me, the pickles were destined to make an appearance at a friend's barbeque, so I had to restrain myself.  Next time, I will make an extra jar that has only my name on it.  I know, "sharing is caring," but The Little Cilantropist hasn't quite learned that yet, and she is in charge when it comes to pickles.





Bread and Butter Pickles
I used the recipe exactly from Smitten Kitchen, and I definitely won't change a thing when I make them the next time; these pickles were perfection!  By Deb's recommendation, I only used 1/2 cup of sugar because I like bread and butter pickles to be sweet, but not too cloying.  I made these in the morning, for a barbeque that was in the evening and they were perfectly pickled.  This pickle recipe needs a little hands-on time, since they are salted and chilled first, and then cooked and cooled; they are not hard work, just different from the "refrigerator" type pickles.   


Refrigerator Dill Pickles
I adapted this recipe from Nicole over at Dula Notes, and they are your traditional dill version.  The dill taste was incredible, although the peppers I used for my recipe were not spicy enough; Nicole used jalapenos, so just adjust which peppers you use to your own tastes.  These pickles require no cooking time-just throw all the stuff in the jar and stick it in the fridge.  I let my pickles sit in the refrigerator for just under 24 hours (this was not what she recommended, just my time issues), and they were still a little over-crunchy for my tastes.  I think the 48-hour mark would be the perfect time to eat these, and Nicole says they keep for 1 month.  Mine didn't last that long so I can't tell you if she is right!  Also, rather than slice mine into spears, I sliced them hamburger style.   


Pickled Red Onions
I adapted this recipe again from Smitten Kitchen, and I ended up using the pickled onions to top hotdogs, burgers, and sandwiches.  They were delicious and unique, and I would definitely make them again since they are silly easy.  I followed the recipe Deb listed, but I used all red wine vinegar (she swapped half of hers for white), and I used a few squirts of Sriracha sauce instead of Tabasco.  Sriracha is potent stuff, so if you don't have it or don't like things spicy, use something else. 


**I didn't preserve any of these pickled treats by canning them, but feel free to do so if you like.         

56 comments:

  1. I have to say I'm not the HUGEST pickle fan... But I do love those huge ones that come in sealed plastic bags at amusement parks. Mmm!

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  2. Thanks for the mention! I'm glad you enjoyed the pickles as much as I did. I love simple recipes and I'm loving not turning on my oven right now. I like that you sliced them into rounds, I should try that next time! Beautiful pics!

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  3. I guessed right!!!! You certainly had fun pickling! The red onions sound wonderful. Personally, I love sriracha... bet it gave it a wonderful kick.

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  4. Yay! Thanks for the recipe. Great Photos.

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  5. I have no less than 12 different kind pickled products in my refrigerator. My favorite is at BJ warehouse (house brand of Berkley & Jensen). It's giardiniera, a blend of pickled carrots, turnips, peppers, cauliflower, and celery. It's not like the Italian blend, but much more flavorful (It has a little Greek flag on the label...and I'm Greek so that may explain it). You should pickle those veggies too! I've always been afraid to make pickles because I don't know how to properly can items for preserving. So nice to know that these can be made with out that process!! Thanks so much!

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  6. How much fun this is...Love pickles:) Great recipes and I love the photos...

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  7. I would totally go to a pickle party.

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  8. Mmmhhh, great pickles! I love pickled veggies. Perfect with some good cheddar and bread.

    cheers,

    Rosa

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  9. I have never eaten a pickle...can we still hang out?? LOL

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  10. Yum!! I want to make these.. <3 pickles... maybe even cauliflower or carrots... OHHH you got me thinking!! Thanks for the post!

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  11. Jenni: How is it that you have never one of the most wonderful foods??? I think it is time to change that! I guess we can still hang out... but only if you try one of my pickles. :)

    Heather: Next time I have a pickle party I will be sure to invite you!

    Rosa: Gosh, cheddar does sound good with pickles... now I have a new craving.

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  12. How fun, wine tasting w the girls! You should try to go on the weekend of Oct 16, it's harvest weekend there. Most of the wineries participate and there are tonssss of different things to do - grape stomping, free tastings, fancy winemakers dinners, appetizers, winery tours, etc... here's the website with info http://www.pasowine.com/events/harvest.php you can click the tab for "winery activities" to see who's doing what. I like to plan my trip around the wineries that will have free food out. ;P But yeah, that would be a great weekend to go, it's tons of fun. Oh and totally let me know when you're ready for some recommendations! I'd be more than happy to give input - but like i mentioned in my entry i am by no means a wine expert... my recommendations are based on the feel of the place rather than the wine itself :)

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  13. Ok, I NEED to make the dill pickles. My four year old is just like you. He is obsessed with pickles! We buy the massive multi pound jugs of vlasics just to keep his habit at bay. I know he would love making his own.

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  14. I'd really like to try the pickled red onions. They've been on my to-do list for so long but I can't get myself to just make them. You made three! Good for you answering the call of your taste buds. :-)

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  15. Loved your blog post! I too adore pickles. Actually anything pickled is wonderful. You have inspired me to make some. It has been on my food bucket list. Thank you for sharing!

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  16. A pickle party is my kind of party! lol I like all of the varieties that you made. Love the pics!

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  17. You will have to tell mom you've learned how to pickle since you were always the pickle girl growing up!

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  18. Love pickled stuff! It's so appetising!

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  19. I'm going to do this immediately! I used to drink the pickle juice when I was a kid - always been a pickle addict. The photos are lovely too...

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  20. Yes, my fridge is filled with briny things as well. There's nothing better than Pickles when your craving salt!

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  21. I just made Refrigerator Dill Pickles last week and posted in my blog about them! I feel like pickling is in the air! It was so easy, but I like the idea of adding the spicy pepper to them, because we tried red pepper flakes and I didn't get much heat from those--I think the pepper flakes were overwhelmed by the vinegar. Speaking of actually "canning" things, I'm going to a a luncheon soon about canning and how to do it, so I'm excited to be able to take fresh produce and preserve it for late. Sorry my comment is so long--I just get really excited about pickles!

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  22. I just love pickling and jamming.... makes me happy :) And these just put a smile on my face.

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  23. I love love love PICKLES! We used to make them in the fall in Romania in large large jars and pickle everything from cucumbers to green tomatoes, fat sweet bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage. Those were the days and man those were some outrageous pickle parties! Thanks for sharing your passion!

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  24. We adore pickles and I am on a wild canning and preserving craze, so I will add these pickles to all the goodness we are bottling in a jar! ;)

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  25. I adore the summer pickles...they are so appetizing and delicious!

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  26. I've always wanted to try making pickles. I don't think I've ever had a truly fresh pickle. I'll definitely try these!

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  27. Our Family Eats: OMG, until you just said that, I had completely forgotten about the fact that I used to drink ALL the pickle juice from every jar I ate!!! How funny the mind works... :)

    Jen: Can't wait to hear about your canning experiences!

    El: if you have never had a fresh pickle, you are missing out in life. ;) Try it!

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  28. Yummy, I made some cucumber pickles last summer. I think it's time to make new ones :)

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  29. It's the new trend! See, I like my pickles crunchy but fully cooked. My mom likes hers undercooked. I should look into this pickle trend as I can eat a jar a week if I wasn't so concerned about sodium intake.

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