If you've got any 5 gallon or larger crocks sitting around collecting dust, now's the time to clean them up, sanitize them and make some pickles. Pickling cucumbers are readily available at the markets now, as is fresh dill, garlic, onions and hot peppers, which all help make some fantastic dill pickles.
Start by scrubbing the cucumbers with a vegetable brush and removing the end blossom. Then soak the cukes in icewater for 8 hours or overnight.
Here's a great link to ingredients and how-to: http://www.exploratorium.com/cooking/pickles/recipe-garlic_pickles.html
For pickling spice I mix my own with ingredients I pick up at the Willy Street Co-op in the bulk spice area using the following:
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. yellow mustard seed
2 tsp. whole allspice
2 tsp. whole peppercorns
2 tsp. whole cloves
2 tsp. dill seed
2 tsp. coriander seed
2 tsp. ground mace
8 bay leaves, crumbled fine
Store in a tightly closed container for up to 6 months.
The pickles are now resting in a 5-gallon Red Wing crock in the basement. Each day be sure to skim off the scum from the top and make sure the pickles are submerged before recovering with a towel until the next day. In 3 weeks you'll be ready to process them and they'll be ready to eat as soon as two weeks later.
Can't wait that long? Try this recipe for quick pickles from Rachael Ray: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/quick-pickles-recipe/index.html
Prefer them sweet, then try this one from Tyler Florence: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/quick-sweet-pickles-recipe/index.html
You can pickle almost anything: cucumbers, carrots, peppers, beans, beets, even watermelon rind.
More pickling recipes and photos to come. Please share your favorites as well!
all photos by Lisa Lathrop © DoubLeL Photography