Thursday, September 6, 2007

Picklestorm!!!!!

Brax,
We have a guest blogger today! My buddy Mason is so sadly sadly blogless that he has apparently started blogging in MS Word and e mailing it to people. Anyway, when he sent me this I knew it was prime material for our blog. It's got it all--crafting, drinking, drunk crafting, and garlic. Enjoy....Picklestorm!!!!!!!!!!
Love,
Bruce

p.s. stay tuned for actual knitting and vacation blogs from my end. Things have been nuts around here.
Edited 800 times for formatting. sorry if you just got this post 800 times on bloglines. 900 times. the ol' blogger, she is being stubborn today. Edited again so the pictures would show. Damn.

PICKLESTORM 2007!

By Mason

This Saturday, I got together with my friends, Eric and Stacey, to make dill pickles with a 100 year old recipe (see bottom) that has been passed down dutifully from generation to generation within an Idaho farm family. I have unceremoniously ripped it off from them and am sharing the recipe with shady musician-types.

Let’s get going...

Cucumbers! Smaller is better. You can find pickling cucumbers at produce stands from late July through early September.

About a pound of cukes will make a quart jar of pickles.

Scrub them with a stiff brush in cold water – no soap. Soap is an enemy of crispness.

Scrub them thoroughly, paying special attention to the flowering (non-stem) end which, I have been told, it chock-full of nasty shit. I suspect that is an old wives tale, but why not play it safe?


Garlic: peeled and with the tough bit at the bottom cut off. A small handful per quart is a fair
starting point. Some people like more. I am of the mind that you CAN have too much garlic in your pickles.

Notice the bloody mary on the cutting board: it’s good to reward the person cutting and peeling the garlic with a nice drink, for he is an enemy of the enemies of crispness, and your friend.

Clean your jars! A run through a dish washer (rinse them twice) works. We washed ours in the sink and boiled them for good measure. Say “Hi!” to Stacey, folks.



Ready for Brine Time! Here's a secret tip: use distilled water. Tap water contains chlorine and other additives which, while safe to drink, are also enemies of crispness.


You need apple cider vinegar and pickling salt, as well. Get this stuff boiling in a big pan. Note the grape leaves, more on them later.




Load your jars! Start by setting a clean grape leaf in the jar. The leaves are said to preserve crispness, but I'm pretty sure they’re just for aesthetics, and that’s OK. Aesthetics are important. By this point, we’ve already got the enemies of crispness on the run. Avoid the temptation to use marijuana leaves.

Dill is your main seasoning after the salt and vinegar. You can probably find it growing wild or you can buy it at a posh market. Use at least one flowering sprig as well as a non-flowering one. Again, avoid the temptation to use marijuana leaves. Have fun with the recipe, but don’t go nuts.



Next load your cucumbers, dill, garlic, and peppercorns. You can stuff all your ingredients in willy nilly, but why not take a moment and make a nice presentation?

My dad loads his jars to look like “an undersea landscape.” He’s an interesting guy.


Here’s Eric, also an interesting guy, loading a jar.

Here’s Eric, moments before the previous photo was taken, drinking with both hands. It’s OK, he’s in a band.



Two loaded jars, reporting for duty, SIR!

You want to have you brine mixed, stirred, and boiling by this point. Have a smaller pan that you then fill with the boiling brine and put that on a burner to keep it boiling. Key word: BOILING.

You want to the brine as hot as it can be when you pour it in the jars.

Also on the stove top, have your lids sitting in a bath of super hot water. Boil them first and then keep them hot.

Heat and cleanliness are the keys when it comes to sealing the jars and keeping them sealed.

I have no pictures of this part of the process because Eric kept handing me drinks. Fill the jars to within a ½” or ¼” of the rim of the jar then quickly place a hot lid on top. You can fish the lid out of the hot water with a butter knife. Then screw the neck on top as tight as you can (you may want to hold the now-hot jar in a dish towel) and place the jar upside down on the counter to cool for a few minutes.

If the jars do not seal (if the ‘button’ pops up), open it up, dump the brine back into the pot, reheat it and try again.

Label your sealed jars and let them sit in a cool dry place for about 4 weeks and you’ve got pickles!



This is a great way to spend an afternoon while doing something productive for a change.



L-R, The Enemies of the Enemies of Crispness: Stacey, Eric, Mason.

RECIPE
Brine:
3 qts water
1 qt vinegar
1 cup salt [plain]

Boil water, salt and vinegar together 1 minute

Pack cucumbers in jars with garlic, dill & peppercorns, mustard seed, (this is where you can get experimental) with a grape leaf on top.

Pour water, salt and vinegar over and then seal.

Suggestions: use a scant cup of salt [3/4 cup] boil 1 min.-thoroughly.
Use apple cider vinegar.

Alright, go make some pickles, you crafty jerks! -Bruce


8 comments:

Karen said...

This is the best thing that's ever happened to our blog. Mason! Get a blog.

micah said...

I defnintely see some pickleing in my future. Mybe I can get the cutie from the first floor to halp me with my pickels. Do we have a market that would sell these interesting cucumbers? And can we rent the Enemies of Enemies of Crispyness? like for a few hours? The one is cute!

Libby said...

Eastern market has the little cukes!

Stacey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Picklestorm-Trooper said...

Wow. Internet fame all due to the desire to produce pickled produce. I'm honored. Mason is the grand master of pickle instruction. Hats off to the gent.

Anonymous said...

Mason is an obvious renaissance man of dark good looks and talents, both a writer and a pickler. One would not be surprised to discover he also is a musician of note, perhaps a photographer (some flashes of brilliance in the pickling photo essay), and, surely, a bird watcher.

MML said...

Thank you for the post. Not only is Mason NOT paying child support on three of our children.(He sends at least *some* monney for our first child, named Dill, but he also gave the Clap.
Proper authorities have been notified.

Matthew said...

that first pic is giving me flashbacks to the locker room in high school.