Bread & Butter Curry Pickles
There they are, three adorable little pint jars of pickles sitting on the counter, getting tastier and tastier by the minute. I can’t wait to taste them when they are actually pickley, in a week or so. For now, I am just crossing my fingers and hoping that my wanton recipe-hacking hasn’t created a monster. (Well, ok, I did taste-test the brine, and it was pretty damn good, so I’m not too worried. It’s just that I didn’t really follow the recipe…)
I was attempting to make bread and butter pickles. You know, tangy and sweet, delicious. I made them successfully (i.e. tasty and non-mushy) at the farm a few weeks ago, and thought I’d try my hand at home. (Yes, I now own MY OWN case of pint-sized canning jars!) I used a different recipe, just for kicks, and went with Mrs. Yoder’s recipe, estimated down to the right size for a pint jar.
Here is my (modified) recipe:
Bread & Butter Pickles
makes 1 pint
- cucumbers sliced to fill pint jar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
water to fill remainder of jar to 1″ from top
1/2 Tbsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp black pepper (peppercorns are ok)
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 cup onion, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1/3 cup sugar (add more to taste)
Start out by putting the cucumbers in ice water (or in a bowl of water in the fridge) at least a few hours before you are making the pickles. I put mine in the fridge overnight, then added water to the bowl in the morning, and there was actually a little ice in the water when I took them out to cut, since the fridge is crazy cold. This will hopefully prevent you from ending up with the dreaded Mushy Pickle.
Cut up your cucumbers and onion. When cutting up the cucumbers, cut off both ends, at least a little bit (and don’t use them). There is something in the blossom end that can contribute to making mushy pickles. If you’re not sure which end that is just cut off both to be safe. I recommend setting out all your ingredients on the table or counter at this point. Really, it’s so much easier than getting them bit by bit. This way they are all at hand for you to mess with and adjust the recipe with.
Proving that I hadn’t learned from my first pickle-making experiences at the farm, I put the pickle slices in first, making it more difficult to get the sugar and salt in the jar. Don’t do this. Start out by putting the salt, sugar, spices, and the apple cider vinegar and a little water in the jar. Swish it around good until it’s mixed and the sugar and salt appear to be dissolved.
Then – you will want to add the cucumber slices, but wait, just wait. Add the onion first. If you put the onion in after the cucumber, the onion pieces will float up at the top and be poking out of the liquid no matter how many times you open the jar to shove them back down in. Stupid onion. So, onion safely in first, add the cucumber slices and do your best to jam them in there so they don’t float up. If you are using lemon cukes, like me, this will be harder, but spears of pickling cucumbers or whole cukes jam pretty well. Then, add the remaining water to cover all ingredients and be no closer than 1″ from the top of the jar.
Screw the lid on tight and shake the jar. Then open it back up and poke the cukes back down below the liquid level. Taste-test the brine with your finger. It should taste just on the sweet side of salty-sweet, and it obviously should taste yummy. Adjust as needed. I had to add more sugar, since the first estimation of how much sugar to add turned out to be low.
Also, the brine tasted amazingly like curry, since I mixed up the jars of (unlabeled orange/yellow powder) turmeric and curry powder and reversed the amounts (the above recipe reflects that). Rather than spoon the extra curry out I decided to go with it. It’s pretty good. If you feel like experimenting, I suggest you don’t mess with the vinegar, salt, or sugar amounts a whole lot. Everything else is fair game.
Close the jars back up, wipe them down, clean everything up, including the bright yellow stain the turmeric has left on your table (good luck with that) and label the jars. Leave them on the counter at room temperature for a few days*, then put them in the fridge. I have read that you can/should use the brine to make pickled beets, so I shall probably be doing this. Then you can use *that* brine to make pickled eggs. I might try that too. I’m becoming a pickling fool.
*Note: these are not true lacto-fermented pickles, as the sugar is the preserving agent, but there is a little lacto- action going on.