A few weeks ago I was at the market browsing in the vegetable section and I came across some yummy looking pickling cucumbers. My thoughts went right away to the pickle crock that has gathered dust in our garage for a whole bunch of years, and I knew that it was the right time again to make pickles. So home I came with a whole schwack of tiny cucumbers and pulled the family recipe – “Dianne’s Yummy Icicle Pickles” – that was passed down to me years ago by my mother.
Yum. Let the pickle processing begin!
Now I remember making pickles on my own for the first time in 2002 (yes, I still remember the exact year because I know which apartment I was living in at the time) and part of the pickle process shocked me. A few days into the 11-day pickle-making process, I discovered mould on the cucumbers! At that time my mom told me that it was “normal” and although it was fantastically gross and somehow seemed wrong, I kept on with the processing. And, wouldn’t you know, those 2002 pickles were delicious in the end.
Was it the mould that kept me away from making pickles for nine years? Could be. This is the mould here, on Day 4 after the pickles have sat there for that many days in water, and yes, it still seems wrong! (I’m sure someone will comment here if it is but hey, no one in our family has died yet from pickle mould.) Don’t be confused by the white upside-down plate and bowl holding the pickles down in the water, that’s part of the pickle submerging process.
After Day 4, every day you have to drain the water out of the cucumbers and replace it with boiling water. You do this until Day 7. During this time period it pays to have a strong, dare I say man around (yes, they are still pretty useful aren’t they) or keep the crock in one half of your kitchen sink so you don’t have to lift it up off of the floor all the time to drain it. (Pickle crocks full of cucumbers and water are very heavy!)
On Day 7 you drain the water out and replace it with a hot syrup of pickling vinegar and sugar and spices. For every day after that until Day 11 you drain out that syrup, heat it up and pour it back over the pickles. Oh, and you can add in a little green food colouring if you like. During this time that same strong man is very likely to complain just a wee bit about the tremendously pungent pickle-smell that is permeating the house!
On Day 11 you’re done all the hard work, and instead of whitish cucumbers you have green delicious, sweet and crunchy pickles. Then it’s just time to can them all in the (many) jars you’ve collected and washed and put them away for a rainy pickly sort of day. A day when a tuna sandwich with a side of pickle would go down just right. (I’ve been waiting nine years for that!)