A couple years ago I discovered how easy it is to make your own sweet pickles. You don’t have to learn canning, you make what’s called “refrigerator pickles”. You brew up your seasoned vinegar mix, add your cukes, and stick in the fridge for a week or so and you get pickles!
Yea, they don’t keep as long as canned ones, but they’re not gonna last anyways.
So now that I’m post-op, and the local pickling cukes are at about their peak, I hit the farmer’s market and got me a few pounds. I didn’t count how many there were, bout a dozen maybe? Paid $2 for them.
I had my sweet-pickle recipe posted on my old food site, but I wanted to see if this would work with Splenda as a sweetener instead of sugar, and I wanted to cut back a bit cause post-op, I’m just not in to the “sweet” as much as I used to be.
So here’s what I came up with…
I have an old 1-gallon glass pickle jar that I’ve kept around just for this. A similar container, say one you get for making sun-tea would work too, just make sure it’s glass. You can also use multiple smaller jars (which I have on hand for dividing up the batch later). The 2.5 or so pounds of cukes I had filled the jar just over half-full, so if you want it full, figure at least 3# worth of cukes, maybe even 4#. Probably not much more than that, you need room for the other stuff.
And you don’t need to use pickling cukes. You can use regular cukes, but I’d slice them much thinner then. They would be good for on burgers and sandwiches. This batch is done with the idea towards being snackers.
Ok, aside from the cukes, here’s what else you need:
3 cups cider vinegar
3 cups water
2 cups Splenda
2 tablespoon pickling salt
3/4 cup pickling spice
2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
about 3# cucumbers, sliced (thick or thin, you decide)
Put the vinegar and water in a non-reactive (stainless or enamelware) pot and bring to a boil. Just as it hits the boil add the Splenda and salt and stir to disolve. If you don’t have pickling salt, use regular, but you’ll want to add add at least 1 extra tablespoon, cause with the coarser grind it won’t pack like pickling salt does. Try to use sea-salt or other non-iodine salt.
Then add the pickling spice, celery seed, and mustard seed. Lower the temp to low and let it simmer for four minutes, then pull from the heat and add the garlic and onion. I use McCormick Pickling Spice, about $4 or so for a 1.5oz container and just use the whole thing. It’s right around the 3/4 cup worth, give or take a little. I thought about doing a custom mix, but this stuff is so readily available, why mess with a good thing? The extra mustard seed is optional, but try to keep the extra celery seed in there.
As far as the onion, go with what you like. I’ve used mostly white onion, but this time I used a sweet onion that I also got at the farmer’s market, same with the garlic.
Put your glass jar inside a large bowl or pot, fill it no more than 3/4 full with your sliced cukes, and slowly.. carefully pour the vinegar mix in the jar. The “in the bowl” thing is just in case the glass decides to crack up on ya. With the half-dozen times I’ve done this, I haven’t had it happen… but hey, never know.
Then cap the jar, I put a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of mine to make sure it doesn’t leak. Leak you say? Yea, cause now you put the whole thing in the fridge for 7-10 days, and every day at least once (shoot for twice a day) you need to pull that jar out and shake it up a bit to keep the spices mixed up in the jar. I typically give it a bit of a shake, then flip it over and store on the lid, then the next day flip it back up-right again.
These turned out very nice. I’ve never had two batches turn out exactly the same, cause I keep tweeking things… like a couple batches I added some chopped up jalapeno peppers with the onions/garlic to give them a bit of a zing. This was the first batch with extra mustard seed, and that added a nice bite to them as well. The originaly recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar…so if you want them a bit sweeter, go for the extra cup, and if the whole sugar-free thing isn’t for you, use regular sugar instead of Splenda. Basically, play to your own tastes.
Once I hit about 10 days, I pulled the gallon jar out and transferred these to a couple smaller jars. Fits in the fridge better. Get some pint size jars and hand these out for gifts, or bring to the next bbq you go to. I did transfer over most of the onion and garlic, but not too much of the extra spices. They tend to get in the way when you’re trying to get the pickles them selves out of the jar.
I just hope the pickling cukes are still in season at the Farmer’s Market this week, cause I’ll definately be making more of these.