I have recently discovered the joys of pickling my own cucumbers and okra, and the best part is-it is so easy and more affordable than buying brand name pickles at your local supermarket! After making your own pickles where you can adjust the spices to your liking, and have control of the freshness, you just can't go back to the usual Vlasic or Mt. Olive jarred pickles.
My husband, Matt, a loyal Vlasic customer, has always loved the classic dill spears and whole pickles of the Vlasic brand. One day when Matt was a kid, his father conducted an experiment to see if Matt was able to really tell the difference between a Mount Olive dill spear as opposed to a Vlasic dill spear. He secretly mixed in Mount Olive pickles with the Vlasic pickles in the Vlasic jar. One day soon after, Matt happily grabbed his Vlasic jar from the fridge ready to indulge in a delicious dill spear when he bit into an odd tasting pickle. It only took one taste for Matt and his palate to realize that this pickle was certainly an imposter, and could never be a Vlasic. Matt plucked out each and every Mount Olive pickle from the bunch. He even called his dad out on the whole sneaky experiment knowing his dad was up to no good in trying to trick him.
Now, if I can turn this loyal Vlasic pickle man into a man who only requests his wife's homemade pickles then I think anyone can do it! I wanted to try pickling for a long time especially because I have a great produce stand where I can buy pounds of pickling cucumbers or okra at an extremely affordable price. I had the produce available and needed to find the right recipe. I read a number of pickling recipes before deciding to scratch most of what I read and make my own simple quick recipe. Some recipes called for boiling the brine for up to an hour or more, letting it stand for an hour or more or pickling the cucumbers for up to 4 weeks before eating. Well I don't generally have that kind of patience or time, and really wanted a pickle I could make and eat within the week. After much research, this is what I developed.
Lizzy M. Pickles
1 16 oz. Jar (A used, cleaned pickle jar will work fine or a mason jar with a rubber seal)
3 Tbsp pickling salt or Kosher salt
2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
2 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 Tsp crushed red pepper
2-3 garlic cloves minced or grated (substitute 1 Tbsp garlic powder)
1 Tsp dill weed or 2 sprigs of fresh dill
1 dried bay leaf
1 Tbsp Tony's Chachere (cause I like it spicy!)
Dash of Tabasco (cause I like it hot!)
4-5 pickling cucumber cut into spears
Make sure whatever container you choose to pickle in is clean and dry. First slice the pickling cucumbers in half lengthwise and then slice each half in half lengthwise creating a traditional spear shape of a pickle.
Into your jar add the first 9 ingredients which are all of the spices for the pickling process needed however there are other things you can add to your pickles depending upon how you like them. My recipe makes a spicy, garlicky pickle but if you prefer something sweet add a a few pinches of sugar and a few cloves instead of the garlic, Tony's and Tabasco.
Next add your speared pickling cucumbers. Pack as many as you can into the jar.
Fill the jar of pickles and spices half way with white vinegar, and then fill the rest of the jar with water. Close the jar lid tightly and shake up so the spices and vinegar distribute all throughout the jar. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours until tasting. I find that my pickles are
ready to eat after 24 hours but are the best after 3-4 days.
Try out this easy and affordable method and you may never want to buy pre-made pickles again! For the okra lovers out there I also have a pickled okra recipe which is exactly the same as my pickle recipe but without the dill. Keep all of these spices and the vinegar as staples in your kitchen, collect a few pickle jars, and pick up fresh cucumbers once a month to have a constant supply of your very own pickles.