Becoming a Grandma or How I Learned to Pickle at Home


My Great-Aunt Mae passed away a few years ago but I remember one summer when we visited her in North Carolina that she showed me the art or jarring also known as preserving or pickling. Everyone knows I have Southern roots and that my beloved grandmother Mamie, whom left us last year loved to pickle. So it comes as no surprise that when my uncle dropped off about five pounds of organic cucumbers I decided to recreate the memories of both Mae and Mamie.




How does one pickle you ask? Well, it's actually one of the hardest looking yet easiest things to do. The pickling process is a cooking process but unlike cooking, the chemical reaction of the liquids used also preserve and ferment the food giving it either a sweet or sour taste. Pickling has been around for over four thousand years and in modern times, it is still a highly consumed food. From olives, to lemons to okra, you can pickle almost anything. Let's get to my own recipe and have a little pickle fun.

First thing you need to pickle are jars, so make sure you get a sterile jar similar to Ball  Mason Jars but if you don't have those, I suggest you recycle pasta sauce jars but boil them for about fifteen minutes to remove not only bacteria but previous flavors.

After your jars you will need your food you are going to pickle. As I mentioned, I had a surplus of organic Kirby cucumbers. I suggest you purchase 3 cucumbers organic if you can but if you are unable to find organic, soak the cucumbers in a mixture of 3 parts, vinegar and one part water followed by a brush down to remove the wax and pesticides.

Slice your cucumbers either lengthwise to resemble spears or widthwise resembling coins.

Next you'll need to create a brine. The brine I created was a mixture of equal parts  white vinegar and  water. Followed by equal parts sugar and salt about one and a half   tablespoons each.

In a saucepan bring the brine liquid to a boil.

Place the cucumbers in the jars.

To add additional flavor and depth to your pickled cucumbers, you can use an array of spices and seasonings. The most well known flavoring is Dill which you can use fresh or dry.

I used a combination of mustard powder, black peppercorns, cumin, coriander, fennel, bay leaves and a dried pepper and placed that into the jar with the cucumbers.

Last, I placed the brining liquid over the cucumbers, tap the bubbles followed by  closing the jar and let it sit on the counter top overnight followed by placing the jar in the refrigerator.

This is where things get tricky, you have to be patient, pickling is a process and fermentation takes time, at least 3-4 days. The longer you let them sit, the more depth of flavor. Refrigerated pickles will keep for about three weeks.

I waited 4 days for these and it was well worth it.