I remember going to the deli with my mom and always begging her to let me pick out a gleaming, sour beauty from the pickle barrel. Now my mother is every bit as smart as she is good looking. She knew that her mini-me didn't even really like pickles, so that would be $1 she would never see again. Luckily my tastes have evolved so that I know a good thing when I see it (see Mark!). Incidentally, I have yet to find a good pickle barrel (or a good deli for that matter) in my neighborhood, so when I had a recent hankering for a good pickle, I knew that I needed to take matters into my own hands. The only thing that you need for this recipe that you may not have is a large, glass jar. You can probably pick one up at the dollar store (or steal one from your friend Sarah, like I did). The whole "canning" thing is pretty rigid in the sanitation department because when they canned foods back in the day, they canned in massive quantities to put up for the entire fall and winter. However, that isn't as urgent when you are canning 4 pickles that will probably only last you 2 weeks. A thorough washing of the jar with hot water and soap right before canning is plenty clean enough for this project. There is something satisfying about chomping down on your own version of pickles, or I bet they would make a fabulous gift.
Pickles in a Barrel
4 pickling cucumbers
3 cups water
1 cup vinegar
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 Tbs. pickling spices
1/2 tsp. peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Pickling cucumbers are the shorter, plumper version of their "normal" cucumber sisters (kind of like me and my sister).
1. Take a large glass jar with a lid and wash it thoroughly with hot water. Also, rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and add them to the jar.
2. To make the pickling liquid, bring water, vinegar, salt, sugar, peppercorns, bay leaf and pickling spices to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
3. Add the garlic cloves to the jar. Allow the pickling liquid to cool slightly (about 5 minutes) and add to the jar to cover the cucumbers.
4. Cover tightly and store in the fridge. You'll have tried and true pickles in about 3 days - but we ate this one after only a day and a half and it was crispy deliciousness already.
I like them cut into wedges for the most authentic pickle experience.