Making Pickles

Cucumbers and Dill

Cucumber Summer

I am up to my elbows in cucumbers. This time of year is called cucumber summer in the Czech Republic. Traditionally, life slows down and women turn their attention to making pickles. Today, many young modern women don’t follow this tradition, preferring to enjoy other summer activities. However, in my village the custom is still popular. The air is filled with the fragrances of dill and vinegar.

Dill Pickles

 30 to 40 small cucumbers (3 to 4 inches long, 8 to 10 cm) about 3 pounds ( 1 ½ kg)

3 cups vinegar

Dill Pickles

3 cups water

6 tablespoons salt

Fresh dill

Garlic cloves

Mustard seeds

Wash cucumbers. Make a brine of vinegar, water and salt. Bring to boil. Put a layer of dill 1 sliced clove of garlic and 1 teaspoon of mustard seed in each clean quart jar. Pack cucumbers tightly in jars. Fill jars within 1/4 inch of top of jars with brine. Tighten caps on jars. Process for 5 minutes in boiling water bath. Check seals of caps before storing.

My mother’s Crisp Bread-and-Butter Pickles

The secret of making bread-and-butter pickles crispy is soaking the cucumbers for several hours in icy cold brine.

 For brine:

½ cup salt (no iodine)

1 quart water

2 quart ice

 Pickles:

5 quarts medium cucumbers

6 medium onions

4 garlic cloves

3 cups sugar

3 cups apple cider vinegar

5 ½ teaspoon pickling spice

 Wash and slice cucumbers leaving the peel on. Slice onions and garlic into paper-thin slices. Soak for 4 hours in a brine made of ½ cup of salt, 1 quart of water 2 quart ice. Remove from brine, rinse and drain. Combine sugar, vinegar and spice in large pot. Heat but don’t boil. Add cucumbers and simmer until cucumbers colour changes from bright green to olive-green. Immediately, pack cucumbers in clean jars. Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil. Fill jars within ½ inch of top of jars. Tighten caps on jars. Check seals of caps before storing.

Dill pickles cooling on racks.

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