CHERYL WIXSON PHOTO

Pucker up!



The cucumber season is at full tilt, and friends have “gifted” me more than 60 pounds of pickling cucumbers. Bright green, blocky, crunchy fruit that ranges in size from 4 to 6 inches long. The perfect type for making old-fashioned crock pickles.

Of all the pickles I make, these crock pickles are my favorite because the recipe is so easy. Scrub the cucumbers, pack them in a crock or jars, add seasoning, fresh herbs and garlic, cover with brine and refrigerate. In about a month your family will be rewarded with crisp, tasty, finger-lickin’ good pickles.

Cooking for a large group? These pickles are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. The recipe scales up simply, and the container travels easily. I know because two 5-gallon pails were consumed by happy guests at our daughter’s Ithaca, N.Y., wedding.

The secret to a good pickle is the acidity of the brine. Be sure to use vinegar that is at least 5 percent acidity. White vinegar allows the herbs to be the more prevalent flavor; a combination of cider and white vinegar has a more robust flavor.

Salt is another critical ingredient. Don’t use plain table salt; it has a non-caking agent that makes the brine cloudy. Check the labels carefully. Look for pickling salt, canning salt, kosher salt or sea salt.

Big glass jars of these pickles once were a staple on counters at general stores. Part sour, part dill and pucker-up good.

This recipe was adapted from one that made a barrel of pickles weighing about 450 pounds. As with most old-time methods, there is plenty of room for creativity. Add whatever you have in season: garlic scapes, cilantro tops, basil and dill blossoms, hot peppers; all add different flavor dimensions and levels of heat.

Be sure that the brine completely covers the fruit. If the cucumber mass floats, weight down the top with a heavy plate or rock before securing the lid.

These pickles are best if the cucumbers brine for at least a month, and I have kept them for over a year. If your family doesn’t eat them all, individual jars of old-fashioned crock pickles make thoughtful gifts.

  • Old-Fashioned Crock Pickles
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    Servings
    2 gallons
    Servings
    2 gallons
    Old-Fashioned Crock Pickles
    Votes: 0
    Rating: 0
    You:
    Rate this recipe!
    Print Recipe
    Servings
    2 gallons
    Servings
    2 gallons
    Ingredients
    • 10 lbs. pickling cucumbers
    • 2 qts. vinegar
    • 2 qts. water
    • ½ cup pickling salt or Maine sea salt
    • 4 Tbsps. dill seed
    • 10-12 cloves fresh garlic
    Servings: gallons
    Units:
    Instructions
    1. Scrub the cucumbers and pack into a 2-gallon crock or pail. (May also use 4 half-gallon jars, two 1-gallon jars or a combination of jars that equals 2 gallons)
    2. Divide the dill and basil blossoms, dill seed, fresh garlic, and bay leaves among the crocks or jars.
    3. Using a saucepan on top of the stove, make brine by dissolving the salt in the water and vinegar. Pour the brine over the cucumbers, making sure that they are completely covered. If needed, weight down the top with a heavy rock or plate.
    4. Refrigerate the pickles for about one month and then taste one for flavor. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. These pickles keep extremely well, for a year or longer.
    Recipe Notes

    Nutritional analysis per 80 gram pickle (varies with size): 14 calories, 3 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams protein, 931 mg. sodium, 0 grams fat, 0 grams fiber.

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Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.
Cheryl Wixson

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