pickles, three ways

Over the weekend I finally was able to hunker down and do some preserving. I decided to make regular dill pickles and a batch of bread and butter pickles. Pickling cucumbers are in season right now and I found big bags of great looking ones (i.e. firm, small and with no bruises) at the PAT Korean grocery store for only $4 so I grabbed a couple and got down to business.
I started with the dills. I like mine a bit spicy so I made half with garlic and dill and the other half with chili peppers, garlic and dill. To help the pickles stay crunchy I always add grapes leaves to each jar. I read somewhere years ago that grape leaves contain an enzyme that keeps the pickles crisp.  
For the bread and butter pickles, I used the same cukes, but sliced them into rounds. I also added slices of red pepper and onions.

dill pickles
about 20 pickling cucumbers
5 1/2 C water
2 C cider vinegar + 1 C white vinegar + 1/2 C rice vinegar (you can really use 3 1/2 cups of any vinegar)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
5 tsp dill seeds
fresh dill
10 garlic cloves
2 red chilis, sliced (optional)
5 grape leaves

1. Trim blossom end of cucumbers (I heard that doing this will help prevent the pickles from turning soft...not sure how/why). I kept the regular dill pickles whole and halved the cucumbers for the spicy batch.

2. Place a teaspoon of dill seed in each sterilized jar (I used  6 x 500 ml canning jars), followed by a grape leave, a sprig or two of fresh dill, 2 garlic cloves and a couple pieces of chili (if using).

3. Arrange cucumbers into jars.

4. Combine water, vinegars, sugar and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. While still hot, ladle brine into each jar. Leave about a 1/4-inch of headspace. Screw on lids. 

5. Process jars for 15 minutes.* Let pickles cure for at least 2 months.

not-too-sweet bread and butter pickles
4 lbs pickling cucumbers, sliced into rounds
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
1 medium sweet onion, sliced into strips
2-3 trays of ice cubes (about 30)
1/3 C pickling salt
3 C sugar
2 1/2 C cider vinegar
2 tbsp whole yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp celery seeds
1 tsp tumeric

1. Mix cucumbers, peppers and onions in a large bowl. Add salt and ice cubes and mix again. Let the mixture sit for 2 hours. After 2 hours, rinse and drain, then rinse and drain again.

2. Combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and tumeric in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the drained cucumber mixture and bring back to a boil.

3. Spoon into mason jars (I used 5 x 500 ml canning jars), leaving about 1/4-inch of headspace. Screw on lids and process for 15 minutes.* Let pickles cure for at least 4 weeks.
Next up: pickled carrots, green beans and turnips! Yay, for summer produce...and pickles!

*I process jars by placing them in a pot of boiling water (make sure water reaches about an inch over the jars). Boil for length of time required. 

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