What better way to spend an afternoon?
It’s spring at the beach. That means gorgeous 75 degree days 50% of the time and rainy 60 degree days (like today) the other 50%.
That also means fresh everything and farmers’ market season!
There’s this little market I’ve been riding my bike to for our grocery shopping. It’s less than two miles away and all neighborhood roads. So imagine me on my bike with my makeshift coffee cup holder (read: a coozie I’ve zip tied to my handlebars), my basket, and my reusable grocery bag pedaling on over and you’ll have a good idea of how I’ve been spending the sunny days. Now, this market, they sell all local. Produce, proteins, dairy, breads, beer… they make their own pickled everything, jams, soups, sauces, spread… and they’re priced somewhere between Harris Teeter and Trader Joe’s. It’s incredible. I have real milk in my fridge right now!
I learned how to pickle a few years ago when I was working at this great fine dining spot and immediately fell in love. It was a simple pickled red onion on some salad. I don’t remember all of it except the pickled red onions. They were the important part as far as I was concerned anyway. They were the sweetest, juiciest, bursts of flavor with a balanced tang that set the taste buds singing! You didn’t need anything else in the way of dressing as long as there was even one on your fork. With my allergy to raw onions, anything that helps me enjoy a red onion is a friend of mine, so couple this with a delicious bread and butter pickle and I’m in heaven.
For me this recipe is every bit as much about the onions as it is about the cucumbers (maybe more so). I hope y’all enjoy.
Tools you’ll need:
A large bowl
A plate (and something heavy to put on the plate)
(2) 6 qt pots or one large enough to fit your cucs with liquid and another that will fit your jars
Mason jars and their lids (I used 4 for this batch)
A sheet tray
A 6 piece canning set (this is optional, but I think it makes life substantially easier if you plan to store your pickles long term in sanitized jars)
15 C sliced pickling cucumbers
3 red onions, thinly sliced
1/4 C coarse salt
4 C crushed ice
2-1/2 C cider vinegar
3/4 t turmeric
1/2 t celery seed
1 T mustard seed
- Cut your cucumbers into your desired sizes and shapes. I did a combination of pieces and spears since I was planning to give them as a gift to my neighbor. I figured I’d let him pick (he picked one of each 🙂 ) The recipe calls for 15 C of cucumbers to 3 onions, however I knew I only had 4 jars to spare this time, so I measured how much would fill each. 3 cucumbers and 2 onions gave me 3 jars of spears and 1 jar of pieces with at least 1/4 inch of space at the top.
- Combine cucumbers, onions, salt, and ice in a large bowl; mix well.
- Place your weighted plate on top and allow to stand 3 hours. This is a cold brine. It allows you to brine your vegetables without sacrificing crunch. When you use a hot brine it cooks the vegetables a bit and leaves them much softer once the pickling process is complete. When the 3 hours is up, rinse well and drain.
- Combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, and mustard seed in a large pot. Add your drained cucs and onions.
- Place over medium – low heat and bring just shy of boiling. Do not let your mixture boil.
- Remove from heat.
- Seal in sterilized jars for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to come to room temperature overnight. If the button on your lid doesn’t click when you push it, you’ve done it right. Remember it’s all fun and games until someone get botulism.
To sterilize your jars:
- Wash them and their lids in hot soapy water and dry.
- Place in a 225 degree oven for 15 minutes; after 15 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the jars and lids until ready to use.
Let me know how yours come out or what else you pickle!