Karen's Cave Kitchen
I LOVE pickles! I have since I can remember. I can remember my parents buying them in huge gallon jars. I'd come home from school and open the pantry for a snack and my mouth would pucker and water when I looked at that jar. I'd wrap a whole one in a paper towel and munch on it until my mouth was sore from too much sour and salt. I still love them and for a food that is simple to make, way too much mystery surrounds pickle-making. Below is the recipe I've perfected over time. There is no canning needed. They are easy and scrumptous combining all my favs in a pickle ... spicy, sour and a little sweet. Cucumbers work great, but any fresh veggie works as well. Carrots might be my all time favorite in this brine. My friend, Heather, set me on a pickle-making path some time ago and so I give her the credit for the idea. These have morphed to a perfect Paleo pickle. Pucker and enjoy!
48 oz Apple Cider Vinegar (I like Bragg's ... it's all natural)
4 cups Distilled Water
1/2 Jar Asian Chili Hot Paste (Sambal Oelek - green top ... half of an 8 oz jar)
1 1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
1 tsp Dill Weed
4 Tblsp Dill Seed (I confine mine in a disposable tea bag because I don't like the seeds floating in my brine ... you could also use a coffee filter secured with a rubber band)
1/3 cup Sea Salt (might seem like a lot but remember this is a brine - you aren't drinking it)
3/4 cup Honey (local, raw and unfiltered)
2 Fresh Oranges (squeeze for juice and pulp)
1 Fresh Grapefruit (squeeze for juice and pulp)
2 Fresh Limes (squeeze for juice and pulp)
Juice from one cut Fresh Pineapple (buy a fresh pineapple and prepare it to eat - whatever juice you have left, add to your brine)
1 tsp Pickle Crisp *** See Note (optional if you disagree with it's Paleo legitimacy, but the pickles will not be as firm without it)
Vegetables to pickle: 2-3 lbs
If you choose cucumbers, they are best cut either into rounds or spears. I don't peel the cucs. The ones pictured above are the baby English that have simply been washed and quartered. Be sure to taste for bitterness in larger cucs ... bitter doesn't make nice pickles. Carrots should be peeled and cut into sticks. Experiment and trust me when I say that all veggies taste great in this brine. I've also tried cabbage and whole fresh green beans.
Combine all ingredients except vegetables in a large stock pot over high heat. Bring to boiling and reduce heat to a bubbling low boil. Allow brine to heat 15-20 minutes. During this time the dill seed will begin to release it's sourness and your flavors will meld.
While your brine is heating, prepare your vegetables and add them to a large container that has a tight-fittling lid. Pour the hot brine (including the pouch of dill seeds) over the vegetables and close the top. Immediately put the container in the freezer. You want to cool it off as quickly as possible. Set a timer for 2-3 hours and check it often. When everything's really cold (however long that takes in your freezer ... be careful not to forget and freeze) remove the container to the refrigerator. Your pickles now need time. I think they are best after about 7 days but I usually start trying them daily after putting them in the refrigerator. After they have reached your desired pickling, you can pour the brine off them and store them in a smaller container in the refrigerator. They will keep for weeks and weeks if you don't eat them all first!
Pickle Crisp is simply calcium chloride (CaCl2), a very absorbant form of salt. It's purpose in pickling is as a firming agent. There are definitely questions out there about it's place in the Paleo lifestyle. I had my own frankly. Most information I've found says it's just fine. Clearly you will be using a very small amount relative to the large amount of brine. Your decision. Your pickles will be crisper with it. It's available in the canning section at Kroger or Walmart. Also online