I have always grown from my problems and challenges, from the things that don’t work out, that’s when I’ve really learned. – Carol Burnett
When I first started canning, jams and jellies were my only endeavors. I knew there were other options, but I never explored beyond the sugary-sweet concoctions that summer fruits would yield.
Over the past five years, I expanded my canning to include such things as Hungarian peppers, hot banana peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, refried beans, and cauliflower. The one thing I really wanted to can however were pickles.
To be honest, making pickles intimidated me. The homemade pickles I tasted were usually too salty, soft, and had very little flavor. What was more discouraging was my belief that to make pickles I had to have a pickling crock.
After doing more research last summer, I learned not all recipes for pickles had to be made in a crock. Several recipes I found allowed the pickles to ferment in the jars, foregoing the months in the crock. With this new option, I selected several recipes to try and thus my search for a flavorful, crunchy pickle began.
I chose four different recipes and made four pints of each. After three months I began testing them. Two of the four turned out pretty good. Good enough that I would make them again but still not what I would consider “to die for.”
Rethinking what I was really looking for, I realized my favorite pickles were the refrigerated Clausen dill pickles. These were the ones I bought when we had company and most requested by my husband and kids. Just thinking about them made my mouth water. Knowing what I was looking for, it was back to the Internet. I was pleasantly surprised when I found three recipes for “Copycat” Clausen pickles that could be made in the jar.
Yesterday, deciding I couldn’t wait until summer for a fresh pickle crop, I bought 14 medium salad cucumbers to try one of the recipes. This decision was made on the fly and not until I got home did I wonder if I had all the other ingredients. Of course when I looked at the recipes I’d printed off, I was missing at least one ingredient from each of them. Not to be deterred, I decided to make what I could with what I had. Forty minutes later I had two quarts and one pint of fermenting pickles that smelled better than any pickle I’d ever made.
All of the recipes I printed off predicted that the pickles would take 2 to 4 days to ferment. This morning, I couldn’t wait. I had to try them. WOW! They were already tasting better than all the pickles I canned last summer. I can’t wait until day 4 when the garlic and spices have had time to truly infuse. Of course that’s not going to stop me from testing them again later today and tomorrow…
If you’d like to try my recipe, which is a combination of several I found, here it is:
Homemade Claussen Pickles
- 14 medium salad cucumbers quartered
- 2 quarts cold water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/3 cup Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. dill seed
- 1 head fresh garlic peeled
- Combine the water and vinegar in large measuring cup. Add salt, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and dill seed, stirring until salt dissolves. Set aside.
- Wash cucumbers, trim 1/8 inch from each end. Slice each cucumber into quarters.
- Divide the garlic evenly between two clean quart and one pint jar. Pack jars tightly with quartered cucumbers.
- Stir brine. Strain spices from brine and distribute evenly between jars. Add enough strained brine solution to cover cucumbers, leaving a 1/4 – 1/2″ headspace.
- Place a metal lid on top of jars but do not put a band. You do not want to seal them. Leave on counter, out of direct sunlight, for 2-4 days.
- Once they taste like pickles throughout, screw on a band and refrigerate for up to six months.
If I’d never gotten over being intimidated by making pickles or being afraid of failing, I never would have discovered this new recipe. Further, I am so glad I decided to “wing it” when I didn’t have all the right ingredients — what’s the old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And for this, I am — Simply Grateful.