Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Pickle Project: Cutting the Cucumbers

Washing cucumbers before slicing them for 14 Day Pickles, June 27, 2010.
Now that we had the cucumbers and the crock, the hard work of making pickles could begin.  This was our official "Day 0" of pickle making.  The most confusing part of this process is trying to understand the fact that you start on Day 0 and don't get to Day 1 until 24 hours have passed.  This is very unclear in the recipe, which I will post tomorrow.  I don't know why it works this way, but both of my parents seemed baffled by my lack of understanding so I figured I should just go with it.

My mother and I carefully washed all the beautiful cucumbers we'd bought from Mr. Vue and picked off all the bits of stem that clung to the ends.  Once the cucumbers were clean, we cut them into perfect 3/4 inch slices.  
The perfect size for a pickle is 3/4 of an inch.  
My mother told me I should always start cutting the cucumber at the small stem end, not the large bottom side.  That way, if you end up with uneven slices and have to throw away part of the cucumber, you're throwing away the larger, less desirable end of the cucumber.  

After helping my mom slice 19 pounds of cucumbers, I realized two things.  

1.  My mother has an amazing capacity to slice cucumbers into evenly sized pieces, while wasting very little of the cucumber.

2.  It only takes about 10 pounds of cucumbers to make the 2 gallons of sliced cucumbers we needed.  Not the 19 pounds we bought.

So we recalculated the amounts and decided we would make a batch and a half.  We're going to have a lot of pickles this year.

Pouring cucumber pieces into the crock.
Once you put all the cucumber pieces in the crock, you have to cover them with salted water.  I hadn't looked at the recipe up until this point, so I haven't listed it here, but I'll post the complete 14 day pickle recipe tomorrow.  For today, all you need to know is that you have to dissolve 2 cups of non-iodized salt in 1 gallon of water for each gallon of cucumber slices in your crock.

We dutifully boiled 3 cups of non-iodized salt in 1 1/2 gallons of water and poured it over our cucumber slices in the bottom of the crock.  After that, just top the mixture with a plate and put the crock in a cool, out of the way place.  My crock of pickles is under my kitchen table, covered by a large, fluffy bathroom towel to keep the kids and the cat out of it!

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